Famous Sydney Opera House

Australia Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House the youngest building on UNESCO’S world heritage list. Sydney opera house is one of the world’s most acclaimed structures and has become a symbol of modern Australia and the vibrancy of its largest city. It is surrounded on three sides by the waters of Sydney harbor.

When the first fleet arrived in Sydney Cove in 1788, the new settlers needed help communicating with the local people. Of the handful of Aborigines kidnapped for this purpose, one man, Bennelong, established cordial relations with the British governor, Arthur Philip. Bennelong learner to speak English and Philip has a hurt built for him on a small tidal island in Sydney’s beautiful natural harbor. Two centuries after his death, his name is globally famous, because in 1955 Bennelong Point was chosen as the location for the city’s new arts center.

Sydney had had an Opera House before, but it was really more of a music hall and it survived for only about 20 years before the building dwindled in the early 20th century, and when the English composer Eugene Gooddens arrived in 1947 as the new conductor of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra the only concert venue was the town hall. Not only did Goossens lobby for a worthy center for live  music, he also saw the potential of Bennelong point. During the 19th century the point had been the site of Fort Macquarie, but this had been demolished in 1901 to make way for a tram depot. In 1955 Goossens got his way.

The Danish architect Jorn Utzon won the international competition to design the building on the basis of a dozen preliminary drawings, Original and imaginative, his unconventional design with its sail-like roofs was immediately recognized as a potentially iconic building. Rising above a massive podium , the roofs were envisaged as a series of thin shells. But Utzon had originally drawn his shells as different parabolas, which would have entailed casting each section individually: a prohibitively expensive venture. It took five years and at least a dozen different approaches to find a workable solution, and the structural analysis by the engineers Ove Arup and Partners involved one of the earliest uses of computer-aided design.

Sydney opera house
Sydney Opera House

In the final design each shell is a section of a sphere of the same 75-m/246-ft radius – an idea said to have been inspired by peeling an orange – which made it feasible to pre-cast the 2,200 concrete ribs, as although their lengths differed they were all of identical shape. The roof panels were also prefabricated on the ground. They are covered in a herringbone pattern of glossy white and matte cream titles, which appear uniformly white from a distance. The arrangement of the shells reflects the interior space – low at the entrances, rising over the seating spaces and the high stage towers. Glass curtain walls light the foyers. The building’s name is misleading, as it is not just an opera house but a multi-venue arts center giving over 1,500 performance a year, with four resident companies: Opera Australia, Australia Ballet, Sydney Theater Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. The Opera Theater occupies the eastern shells and the Concert Hall is to the west. Smaller performance spaces – the Drama Theater, Playhouse and Studio – are under the Concert Hall, within the podium, and the paved forecourt and steps are also used as a performance area.  A third, smaller group of shells houses the restaurant.

Although it ended well, the story of the project wasn’t a happy one. In 1965 Utzon’s repeated requests for the next stage of funding were not met and, following a change of administration in New South Wales, relations became increasingly tense. The new Minister for Public Works demanded that costs by reined in, compromising the deisgn. Utzon eventually resigned and returned to Denmark. When the Opera House was ceremonially opened in 1973, he was not invited, nor was his name mentioned.

Utzon’s innovative plans for the interior spaces were not carried out, but in 1999 he drew up a set of design principles for future development and worked on one area, now know as the Utzon Room, which was completed in 2004. He died aged 90 in 2008, without ever having returned to see his greatest building, whose visionary design helped to turn Sydney into a world city.

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