The Sydney Opera House is one of the most complex and difficult engineering projects ever undertaken, a true masterpiece of late-modern architecture.
In their report, the experts who were asked to evaluate the projects for the realization of the building wrote, «It stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind».
The Sydney Opera House is, indeed, one of the most unique and extraordinary works of architectural engineering. It’s also one of the 20th century’s most distinctive buildings, so much so that it is not only iconic of Sydney but of Australia itself. The theatre is the result of the visionary project of Danish architect Jørn Utzon in cooperation with London-based engineering firm Arup for structural calculations. After almost a decade and 102 million dollars in funding (enormous figure at the time), it was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on October 20th, 1973.
What makes the Sydney Opera House a truly iconic building, so much so that it is considered the eighth wonder of the world, are its “shells”. They are ten “interlocked” sections of a dome that immediately bring to mind the image of white sails being filled by the sea breeze. The roof of the Sydney Opera House is so elaborate that, when finished, it turned out to be the world’s heaviest, weighing 26,800 tons. Despite its unique shape and size, though, the structure failed to satisfy its primary purpose: having good acoustics for opera performances. This led to frequent criticism and dissatisfaction. There have also been recurring remodel requests mostly suggesting moving the opera house to the bigger and more acoustically suitable concert hall, which would consequently entail the relocation of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.
The building is located in Sydney Cove. Nearby there are an amusement park and a big parking lot, which is accessible from Macquarie Street. The Sydney Opera House is well-connected and close to the enormous Sydney Harbor Bridge, and both this building and its surroundings are often a destination for tourists who crowd into its premises simply to visit the place, even if for the most part they’re not interested in opera.The large organ with over 10,500 pipes can be found inside the 2,700-seat concert hall. Installed in 1979, the majestic instrument was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007.
Perhaps not everyone knows that every year, at the end of May, the city celebrates Vivid Sydney, the largest festival of lights and music in Australia. During the event, the iconic buildings of Sydney (the Harbour Bridge, the Town Hall, the Royal Botanical Gardens and the city’s bay) come to life thanks to dazzling light projections, designed to pay homage to the global creative industry.
In these days, the Opera House is no exception and its exciting contribution is one to remember thanks to the beauty and the uniqueness of the building. Musical light shows are displayed on the “sails” while multiple music events, round-table discussions and light art installations take place all over the city.