Oscar's auditorium opens after ten years

Tuesday 09 Feb 2010

Ribbon cut on Ravello's new €18m performance space designed by Niemeyer

Oscar Niemeyer’s latest work, perched on a cliffside in the culturally rich town of Ravello on the south coast of Italy has completed. Ten years have passed since its conception in 2000, to the inauguration of the Auditorium Oscar Niemeyer on January 29.

The auditorium was not an easy building to design; the site presented an irregular, narrow earth surface with an accentuated diagonal inclination. The structure also opened many debates, not least from environmentalists who contested the project due to its prominent position on the breathtaking Amalfi Coast.

But Niemeyer, and project partners Fondazione Ravello, the Campania Region and the municipality, were undeterred. To cope with the difficult landscape, the auditorium has been realised with a parterre that follows the natural inclination of the ground. Niemeyer’s design displays a deep respect for the landscape, evident in his work’s reflection of the curves of the hills and the small white houses that surround it.

The 1,500 sq m space hosts an auditorium which seats 400, a 167 sq m semicircular stage, a recording studio, a rehearsal room and, outside, 107 parking spaces. Inside the auditorium a mobile of methacrylate corrugated reflectors positioned on the roof act as suspended acoustic panels. Niemeyer also designed the Ravello stalls to minimise the absorption of sound waves. The lowest level of the auditorium houses the audio and video area, translation booths and the directed lights. The large outside terrace offers panoramic views of the coastline. Possibly the most impressive feature is the hydraulic handling system which can lift the stage to the entrance level, turning the foyer into a huge exploitable space which can be used for events such as conventions and exhibitions.

Laura Paton

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