Select language:
; ;

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre, Athens, Greece

A world class cultural centre in Athens.

Opened in 2017, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Centre (SNFCC) is a world-class facility and one of the most important cultural projects recently realized in Europe. Housing the Greek National Opera House and the Greek National Library, this impressive development builds on the country’s reputation for and tradition of sharing and accelerating knowledge, culture, and the performing arts. The SNFCC does so all while operating sustainably, as the first building in Greece that achieved a LEED® platinum certification.

The Opera House is the new home for the Greek National Opera and Ballet with a 1,400-seat opera theater, a 480-seat Alternative Stage, and a full suite of opera, chorus, orchestra, musician and dance rehearsal and practice rooms. The entire facility is set within a new 200,000m2 park located on the edge of Athens and bordering the Aegean Sea. Supporting its mission to revitalize the area and serve as a prime destination in the nation’s capital, the project and its facilities support an impressive range of both planned and impromptu programming. Arup provided acoustic and audiovisual (AV) consulting, infrastructure design, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services to this innovative cultural development. 


Project Summary

1st LEED Platinum certified building in Greece

1,400seat opera theatre

200,000m2park and green space

The design team set out at the beginning of the project to offer a wide range of platforms and variable acoustics so that the public could engage with the performing arts in various ways. From opera and music performances in the impressive indoor spaces such as the Opera House to large-scale outdoor concerts in the park and rooftop, the offerings are not only limitless, but all acoustically and technologically seamless.

The Opera House serves as the building’s focus in many ways. The full-height atrium and fully glazed façade certainly make it an architectural centerpiece. However, its acoustical design and development are what truly set it apart as a world class facility. Arup utilized 3D acoustic computer modelling and its famous SoundLab to simulate auralizations with the architects. 

The interior of a large opera house The interior of a large opera house

Our impressive suite of digital capabilities combined with our legacy in opera house design – in the continuation of famous opera houses such as Glyndebourne, Oslo, and Copenhagen -- resulted in the innovative design measures that permeate the SNFCC’s central performance space. Shallow balconies with limited rows allow sound to reflect cleanly on the outer walls of the auditorium, surrounding the audience seated within them. The fronts of the balconies are designed to reflect sound both back toward the audience at the front and up to the ceiling to prevent echoes. Shaped wall surfaces mimic the acoustical effect of ornamented walls in historical opera houses. Variable acoustical panels help to balance and configure the difference in volume between orchestras and human voices, often performing in conjunction with each other.  

In addition to the impressive acoustical designs and considerations, which permeate the entire SNFCC, the AV system network is yet another marvel of engineering and innovation that the centre boasts. The AV system network both supports and enables the SNFCC’s ambitious and wide-reaching programming goals. The network provides a broad system of connectivity, allowing equipment and performers to stay connected in real-time anywhere in the entire facility. For example, singers located in the park can be broadcasted inside of the Opera House, or multiple events can be shown at once on the facility’s TVs.

While simultaneously providing seamless and deliberate services that support this state of the art performance centre, the design also focuses on the reduction of energy and water demands using passive design solutions where possible. A 10,000m2 canopy of photovoltaic (PV) cells will produce a large amount of electrical energy, whilst offering solar shading for the building and reducing its cooling demands. 


The SNFCC continues to be successful in its engagement of the public and delivery of world-famous performances. And as one takes a deeper dive into its carefully thought-out design elements and innovations, it becomes clear what sets it apart as one of the most impressive facilities in the nation and the world.