Dubai Opera House

  • Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Building future memories…


Dubai is building its opera.

The emblematic city of the explosion of the 21st century must build itself a new planetary icon.


But an opera is an opera:


An allusion to music, to rhythm…a reference to the rhythms of the past…an invitation to discovery…a mystery programmed.


We are here above the water, at the far end of the Creek.  The visitor encounters an « inhabitant » who belongs to the spirit of the time, belongs to the time inscribed in the place.  It acts as a witness, a guardian, a protector and, above all else, a vision across the city and its future.

Its scale is such that we cannot confuse it with a vulgar hotel or an office building: it is proud, sure of its aura across the land.

It cannot be decoded in a simplistic or univocal manner.

Its image changes with angles of view, with the lights, but it also belongs to the atmosphere, to the thickness of the air.  It reveals the light.  It impregnates its shadow in the water.


It evokes.

The rhythms.

The intensities.

The depths.

It evokes.

The music, the ascents and the descents.


It speaks of the symbols of the place: here, we are as likely to encounter the bird (the falcon that is the emblem of the Emirates that flies and migrates, searching for refuge in nature nearby);

as the water (changing reflections linked to the mirrors of the Creek);

as the waves of the sea so close;

as the waterfall, the mist or the cloud.


We also encounter vegetation with its perforated patterns of light, the random succession and superposition of palm trees entangled with other essences as the levels progress;

as the music with its evocations of the curves of instruments, of the lines the score, of the keys of the clarinet or of the tuning note…


The signs superpose, become confused, link together to create other music, other rhythms impossible to imagine outside of these criss-crossed layers… It is a little like the clouds: each person can see what attracts them, what makes them question.  The architect plays only the role of provocateur, claiming innocence.


Then, there is the light.

The lights of the dawn and the dusk. There are views into the light, reflections, the play of materials that capture, that imprints the colours of the sky on the skin of the building.  Within the gleaming echoes or fading away, the hours slip across the green of the trees, the colours often made vivid by the interiors and the lights of the life contained by the opera, multiple and varied lights linked to the ambiance of different places, of different hours – glowing, evidently, as soon as the night arrives.


Here is what guides an architect whose mission it is to provoke the unthinkable.


Here is what will be felt, like a spectacle to be discovered, like sensations to be searched out.


Afterwards, what remains is not the least: the interior.

The interiors.  The successive discoveries.  The impacts of the light and the shadows through the geometry, which is the essence of grand Arab architecture.

There is, seen from the interior, the discovery of the skylines of Dubai, the Dubais.

There is the memory of creations in a place that will welcome prestigious guests who, here, will create works that will make a tour of the earth.

There are encounters with music, with theatre, with the arts and their principal actors…


All this to link the imagination of Dubai to culture and its pleasures.




Jean Nouvel