The European Union just announced the winner of the biannual Mies van der Rohe architecture prize, and it goes to Snøhetta for its work on the Oslo Opera House. They take home an $80,000 prize–a considerable haul, in the penny-pinching world of architecture competitions. The building pulled Snøhetta, a young firm, from relatively obscurity, thanks to its intricate construction and quirky design. According to the jury chair Francis Rambert, “It is more than just a building. It is first an urban space, a gift to the city.”
A “carpet” composed of tens of thousands of individual bricks forms a ramp that becomes the building’s roof–thus, you can wade out of the fjord in front of the opera house, and walk directly to the building’s roof. As befits a building on the water, the interiors are meant to hark back to traditional Norwegian boat design, with undulating walls made of wood.