The Mariinsky Theatre in the heart of St. Petersburg is one of the most famous opera and ballet theatres in the world. Now the historical building from the year 1860 has a new addition – and it is right next door. The curtain went up in May in the new Mariinsky II opera house, which receives its visitors on the other side of the Krukov canal with ample transparency.
Mariinsky II was planned by the Canadian architect’s office Diamond Schmitt and German acoustic specialists Müller-BBM. Covering around 79,000 m2, the new opera house has enough room to take a stroll, relax and above all to enjoy the music, because when it comes to technical stage equipment and acoustics, it is one of the most modern buildings in the world. The large panoramic glazing of the formal, simple structure has an inviting effect. It provides not only a look at the happenings – a foyer stretches out behind it with a sus-pended staircase covering several levels, bathed in warm light from amber-coloured onyx – but it also provides a mag-nificent view of the historical Mariinsky Theatre in its classical style. The new and historical theatres are connected together by a pedestrian bridge over the Krukov canal. The auditorium is the heart of the new opera house: With 2000 seats in a classical horseshoe shape, it provides finely tuned acoustics to the listeners. The three balcony levels are unusual. An opera house of this magnitude usually has 5 balcony levels. The use of three balconies instead of five allows for more height between levels and creates better sound dispersion, especially for the rows located farther back.
The very generous use of glass is responsible in part for the pleasant stay in the foyer area of the new Mariinsky Theatre. It allows a great deal of daylight to enter and gives the opera house an open and spacious atmosphere.
Around 1,300 m2 of GEWE-therm® sun thermal protection glass from SCHOLLGLAS was used in the panoramic fa-çade. The highly selective sun protection coating, which is placed on the outer pane of the gap between the panes, re-flects the incident sunlight.
This prevents excessive heating of the building and ensures a pleasant climate on the inside.
These days, glass is not only a design element, but it also plays a significant role in modern architecture as a load-bearing element. Thanks to great progress in structural glass construction, the material can now take on numerous stabil-ity-relevant tasks. These possibilities expand the spectrum of possible uses of glass considerably. For example, the pano-ramic façade was built with composite safety glass GEWE-safe® in order to ensure it is safe against falling. This combi-nation of sun protection and safety expands the design flexi-bility of architects considerably, and makes it possible to have large-scale glazing of buildings with high utilisation of daylight. Another 314 m2 of high-tech special glass from SCHOLLGLAS was also installed in numerous window ele-ments as well as for overhead glazing.
The striking panoramic façade of the new Mariinsky Theatre prevails not only from a functional perspective, but it also plays an essential role in the design. The glazing facilitates an unrestricted view of the historical theatre on the opposite side, which in addition is reflected by the outside of the fa-çade resulting in an interrelationship between the old and new.
+ Project facts
Mariinsky Theater II, St. Petersburg/RUS
Commissioned by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, Moscow/RUS
Diamond Schmitt Architects, Toronto/CA
with KB ViPS Architects, St. Petersburg/RUS
GEWE-therm® from Schollglas Technik Sachsen GmbH, Nossen, OT Heynitz/Germany
© Pavel Kirillov
+ All images © Pavel Kirillov