What is Sydney without the Sydney Opera House. Everyone know what and even where exactly teh Opera House is located it. It is in fact dubbed as one of the 20th century most distinctive building in the world. Located in along the Sydney Harbour, somewhat adjacent to the also iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Sydney Opera House stands out with pride on the edge of Bennelong Point, a picture perfect location when viewed form the Mrs Macquarie’s Point (The Royal Botanic Gardens) with The Opera House on the foreground and the Harbour Bridge as the background. A view almost second to none and one that almost no 20th century man have never seen before.
But ofcourse, with every iconic building ever made, comes a deep history many are unaware of. Sydney Opera House was designed by a Danish Architect, Jørn Utzon (9 April 1918 – 29 November 2008) and was formally open on the 20th October 1973 by Elizabeth ||, Queen of Australia. Amidst the large crowd which attended the event, Utzon was never invited, nor was his name ever mentioned during the ceremony despite it being televised all around the world. Utson was also awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of Architects Australia on that day, and yet he wasn’t present. Unfair you might say, but here is a jist as to why that happened.
Jørn Utzon is in fact one out of the 233 design applicants from 32 countries, many of which are well known and established architects of today, who participated in the ‘International Design Competition for the national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. His application, which until now is remembered as ‘scheme number 218’ was later announced as the winner on 29 January 1957. The design carved out by Utzon was surprising ang considered revolutionary during that time and even though he have never been on the site of Bennelong Point throughout his life, he used maritime background to study naval charts of Sydney Harbour.
Construction of the podium began on 2nd march 1959 with a ground breaking ceremony presided over by the New South Wales (NSW) Premire, The Hon Joseph Cahill. Utzon later made some alterations to his design in order to develop a way to construct the large shells he intend to create to mimic large sails wide open along the harbour. But as time passes and a new Liberal Government was elected in teh State of NSW, the minister began to question Utzon’s design. Following the doubts and often overshadowing Utzon’s design decisions, schedules and cost estimates have eventually stopped payment to Utzon who was forced to withdraw as Chief Architect in February 1966.
Following his resignation and months of protests and marches demanding Utzon to be reinstated as the architect of soon to be the icon of the Sydney, the government of NSW did not offer him the role he ought to deserve. Utzon left the country at the end of April 1966, NEVER to return to see his masterpiece again.
But in 1999, after 33 years he let the country, the NSW Government and Sydney Opera House Trust were able to reunite the man behind the revolutionary concept of his time and his masterpiece. Ofcourse, it was only after a number of approaches, conversation and finally meetings that Utzon finally agreed to be re-engaged to develop a set of Design Principles to as a permanent reference to guide all future changes to the building. Well if you actually realized the the number of years since Utzon was born, he was probably in his 80’s and unable to fly back and forth, thus working most of his designs in Denmark, where he lives.
Fast forward, to the opening of The Utzon Room in 2004, the first authentic Utzon Interior in the Building which then continue and lead to several other modifications to the building. Which includes his collaboration with his architect son, Jan Utzon and Australian Architect, Richard Johnson on the Colonnade, the Accessibility and Western Foyers Project including the concept designs for the Opera Theatre Renewal Project.
The Colonnade (which was amazingly beautiful and breathtaking, I must personally say that it was my favourite walkway ever) was the first exterior change to the building ever since it was opened. Nine, opening along the Harbour Bridge Side of the Sydney Opera House into shared foyers for the Playhouse, The Studio and the Drama Theatre – Six new large Deep Set Windows and Three Glass Doors framed up the Harbour Bridge perfectly. And now the Foyers are no more dark and dingy but are now flooded with natural light and for the first time ever since it opened, patrons in these venues can enjoy the harbour and city views.
On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The first (and only) site in the world to be dubbed the status with a living architect. But the architect behind one of the most prestigious multi-venue Performing Arts Centre in Sydney did not live too long after that. Jørn Utzon was laid to rest peacefully in his sleep in 2008 in Copenhagen and will always be remembered as a Revolutionary Architect which all began with ‘scheme number 218’.
Do visit the Sydney Opera House and I would strongly suggest to go for a Opera House Tour and experience the Theatre and unprecedented access to areas you are only allowed into with a tour guide. As there are some private show practice which went on, photography might not be allowed in some areas during the tour, but I must say, it is one tour you must go for, breathtaking and informative!
Well that is it folks! Do visit their website for more visitor information we will catch up real soon!
Sydney NSW 2000