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Norwegian National Opera & Ballet house scoops Europe's most prestigious prize

The European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe announced today that the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo, Norway by Snøhetta is the winner of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2009.

The Jury also awarded the Emerging Architect Special Mention to STUDIO UP/ Lea Pelivan and Toma Plejić; for Gymnasium 46° 09' N / 16° 50' E, Koprivnica, Croatia.

The 60,000€ Prize funded with support by the European Union, is one of the most important and prestigious prizes for international architecture and is awarded biennially to built works completed within the previous two years.

The landmark building by Snøhetta, who also designed the new Library of Alexandria (2002), is the largest cultural centre built in Norway in 700 years. The first element of the regeneration of the bay area of Oslo, its sloping stone roof - made up of 36,000 fitted pieces – rises up from the fjord; allowing members of the public, residents and opera goers alike, to walk over the building, developing a relationship with the public structure. Integral to the 1,000-room interior, which is largely lined with crafted woodwork (using the traditions of Norwegian boat builders), are a number of art commissions interwoven into the structural fabric, including a cloakroom, a collaboration with their 2007 Serpentine Pavilion collaborator Olafur Eliasson.

The Jury, chaired by Francis Rambert includes: Ole Bouman, Irena Fialová, Fulvio Irace, Luis M. Mansilla, Carme Pinós and Vasa J. Perović.
Francis Rambert, Chair of the Jury said: “The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet in Oslo is more than just a building. It is first an urban space, a gift to the city.

The building can be considered a catalyst of all the energies of the city and is emblematic of the regeneration of its urban tissue.”

“Snøhetta consider The Mies van der Rohe Award among the worlds most prestigious architectural acknowledgements," added Tarald Lundevall, partner and project architect for Snøhetta. "We are greatly honoured to receive this prize for The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet.”

The winner of the Prize was selected from a shortlist of five finalists selected from 340 projects proposed by the Architects’ Council of Europe (ACE) member associations, other national architectural associations, the group of Experts and the Advisory Committee. The five finalists were:

Zenith Music Hall, Strasbourg (France) by Studio Fuksas/ Massimiliano & Doriana Fuksas

Luigi Bocconi University, Milan (Italy) by Grafton Architects/ Shelley McNamara, Yvonne Farrell,

Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, Oslo (Norway) by Snøhetta/ Kjetil Trædal Thorsen, Tarald Lundevall, Craig Dykers.

Multimodal Centre – Nice Tramway, Nice (France) by Atelier Marc Barani

Library, Senior Citizens’ Centre and Interior Courtyard, Barcelona (Spain) by RCR Arquitectes

A travelling exhibition and catalogue featuring the works chosen by the Jury – the Prize Winner, Special Mention, the finalists and the shortlisted works - will be presented in September this year.

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