Close Up: The Sydney Opera House

Close Up: The Sydney Opera House

Jenny Butler
Dec 2, 2008

What does the Sydney Opera House and Alvar Aalto have in common? See after the jump…

Danish architect Jørn Utzon worked for Alvar Aalto and also designed the Sydney Opera House. Over the weekend we heard the sad news of the passing of Jørn Utzon, so we thought it was appropriate to do a close up on his and Australia's most iconic building.

In 1957 Utzon won a competition for his submission for the Opera House design despite his entry being cast aside in the early stages of the judging. While it took him over 6 years to complete the design of the outer shells, his final design was inspired by peeling an orange. The roof is made up of 1,056,006 Swedish-made self-cleaning tiles.

Unfortunately, not everyone appreciated Utzon as being an architectural genius. In 1965 after a new State government was elected in New South Whales the new Minister for Public Works Davis Hughes, stopped all payments to Utzon and the Opera House project. Utzon was forced to resign as chief architect in 1966.

The Concert Room. This is THE room in the Sydney Opera House. While it does have some acoustical problems Utzons motivation in this design was to make an impression.

The Opera Theater.

The Utzon Room. Along the wall is a 14 meter tapestry designed by Jørn Utzon.

A suite of Jørn Utzon designed furniture that the Sydney Opera House acquired at auction for $12,000 in 2006. Designed in the 1960's while he was living in Australia, this was then manufactured for a few years by Fritz Hanzen in Denmark.

The Sydney Opera House was built from 1956 to1973, the project blew out and ended up costing 1,400% more than was originally planned. In 2007 the Opera House was declared a world heritage site and it sees over 4 million visitors each year. While we've seen pictures of it more times than we could ever count, seeing this building in person is breath-taking. If you're ever in Australia, the Sydney Opera House is the number 1 architectural place you should visit.

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