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Opera roof makeover

Exteriors | June 30, 2014 | By:

The theater’s recently completed rebuilding program replaced a 1960s era roof with a 55,000 sq ft fabric tensile roof.

Sopot Opera LeÅ›na (also known as the Forest Opera) is one of Poland’s most famous outdoor theaters and one of the most beautiful in Europe. Dating from 1909, Opera LeÅ›na is a magical open-air theater nestled in the middle of a hilly forest in the western district of Sopot. For over a century, the theater has seen everything from German opera to Lady Gaga performances. But during the Cold War, it gained fame as the Soviet Bloc’s answer to the Eurovision Song Contest.

Financed in part by the European Union, the theater’s recently completed rebuilding program replaced a 1960s era roof with a 5,100 sq m (54,896 sq ft) fabric tensile roof. The seating has been expanded to accommodate up to 5,000 people with a stage that can hold more than 100 musicians. With state of the art sound and lighting systems, the Opera LeÅ›na now has the flexibility to provide a much wider variety of shows on a larger and more flexible stage.

One highlight is the installation of a system allowing images to be projected onto a special screen included in the new fabric roof and suspended 32 m (105 ft) above the audience. Made with PTFE-coated glass fiber, Saint-Gobain’s Sheerfill I was chosen for the new roof for its even and diffused sunlight effect while, with a 73 percent reflectance level, minimizing heat gain.

Taiyo Europe managed the design, manufacturing and installation of steel, cables and membrane. Maffeis Engineering, a specialist in tension membrane and fabric structures based in northern Italy, led the engineering of the steel structure and fabric membrane.

Frank Edgerton Martin, a regular contributor to Fabric Architecture, writes frequently about landscapes and design for international design journals.

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