The Arches - Royal Opera House, Muscat, Oman - CODAworx

The Arches – Royal Opera House, Muscat, Oman

Submitted by Giles Rayner

Client: Muscat Municipalitiy

Location: Muscat, Oman

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $2,500,000

Project Team


Giles Rayner

Eden Sculpture Ltd

Project Manager

Julian Glyn-Owen



One of the most serious water features worldwide. Drawing inspiration from the architectural arched window lines of the nearby Muscat Opera House, this sculptural installation features two intertwined stainless steel elements resembling tusks. Their sinuous forms maintain a sense of geometric order, echoing the Opera House’s design. Water erupts from their interior surfaces in a patterned display. The Arches reach a height of 40 feet, arching over a 200-foot wide oval pool. Carefully designed water jets, numbering 69 in total, fire water in programmed sequences to create the effects envisioned during the initial site visit to Oman.


From the outset, we envisioned the artwork for the Muscat Opera House as an integral part of the visitor experience, not just a decorative afterthought. This meant going beyond pure aesthetics. For me, the key was creating a harmonious dialogue between the sculpture and the building's architecture. The stainless steel water feature, with its flowing forms and reflective surfaces, is a testament to this philosophy. It's designed to resonate with the Opera House's architecture and stylistic lines, not compete with them. This artistic conversation fosters a unique space for contemplation. Visitors can appreciate the sculpture on its own merits, but it should also seamlessly blend into their appreciation of the building itself. The entire project reflects the power of architecture as a source of inspiration. The Opera House itself becomes a canvas, and the artwork an extension of its artistic expression. This complete integration of artistic vision and architectural design is what makes this project so special.


From the very beginning, the Arches project was a true collaboration. There was a continuous conversation between myself, the commission council, my project manager, engineers, logistics team and the construction crew.
After the initial proposal was accepted, we continued with extensive discussions about the overall vision for the sculpture. The commissioning board and myself talked about the design objectives of the sculpture and how to best uphold these throughout the process.

Technical Refinement: Once the design was finalised, we began our collaboration with the engineers, to refine technical drawings and 3d modelling, to ensure the water feature could function flawlessly. This involved detailed discussions about water flow, pumps, and maintenance access.

Construction and Installation: Finally, came the exciting part – working with the construction crew to bring the vision to life. There were on-site adjustments and problem-solving moments, but seeing the piece come together was incredibly rewarding.Throughout this entire process, quality of communication was essential. Everyone involved was as passionate about creating a cohesive and inspiring space as I was. A true team effort.