Acoustics case study

Dubai Opera House


Creating a new performance space comes with many issues especially when the client’s brief is to allow for flexibility to allow for maximum utilisation of the venue. The clients brief for the Opera House was that the venue must provide for a very flexible auditorium that would also be capable of operating in a flat floor mode to provide space for banquet hall and exhibition space. Along with a world-class performance venue. Previous thinking would be to design the space for only one purpose but by using modern design and innovative solutions the space can be made to work for a wide selection operational scenarios.


Dubai Opera is part of The Opera District within Downtown Dubai. The 1901-seat performing arts centre was designed by Atkins. The theatre was conceived and briefed by Theatre Projects Consultants, it can be converted into a traditional theatre, concert hall, banquet hall or exhibition space. Using hydraulic lifts and seating wagons to relocate 900 of the 2,000 seats, the floor of the auditorium and stage can be used for other events while the extra seating is stored in garages beneath the theatre. SRL were approached by BK Gulf to help develop a full acoustic design of the extensive mechanical services within the opera building and plaza. These systems had not been acoustically designed before SRL were involved. AGCICC the main contractor also appointed SRL to provide acoustic advice on each of the construction packages for the main building envelope and architecture to help minimise their risk exposure during the construction process.


SRL worked within the project team to provide a full acoustic design strategy for mechanical services within the building to help achieve world-class acoustic environment Our design advice was reviewed and approved by the client’s main consultant, Atkins. We checked manufacturers/suppliers data to develop schemes and source equipment compliant with the project M&E specification. SRL also worked for the main contractor AGCICC to highlight risk areas of the main building design specification. We worked to resolve conflicts within specification documents and provided Dubai Opera House alternative advice where agreed with the main consultant. For any music lover, the true test is in the acoustics – and early feedback has been incredibly positive. Plácido Domingo was highly complimentary, while midway through the first rehearsals, Stefano Pace, chief executive of the visiting Fondazione Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi orchestra, revealed that the sound is beyond anything he expected; “The acoustics are some of the best I’ve heard at any opening,” he says. “I’m very surprised, I didn’t expect that.”