Sydney Opera House
The Sydney Opera House is one of the most distinctive and famous 20th century buildings. It is situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour. The building and its surroundings (like the Harbour Bridge) form an iconic Australian image.
In 1955 a competiton for a design of a large, dedicated opera house and concert hall was started. It was won by the Danish architect Jorn Utzon. It was later finished by Arup & Partners and Australian architects Hall, Todd & Littlemore and Ted Fmer.
The Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II, in her capacity as Queen of Australia, on October 20, 1973.
Visit April 2011
After now having visited Sydney Harbour including the Opera House, I find it a pity that the nomination that finally got succesful in 2007 only covers the Sydney Opera House. Sydney's Harbour is its great asset, both as a magnet for immigrants in the past and for its picturesque setting. The Opera House is a single great building of course, but I was more impressed by the Harbour Bridge.
I "did" Sydney on a half-day bike tour. It took us all along the different quays, over various bridges but allways with the fabulous harbour view in sight. The fish market was a worthy stop for a fresh snack.
We cycled around the Opera House too of course. From upclose it is more visible that is actually made of 3 sets of "shells" (it looks one structure from afar). After having read the reviews below, I had decided not to spent another 35 AUS dollar for a tour inside. The complex is very "open" anyway, it is a public building that is used by many.
Few buildings are quite as iconic as the Sydney Opera House. Perched between bustling Sydney Harbor and the botanical gardens, this uniquely-designed edifice is an architectural marvel. Most interestingly, the exterior is entirely covered in what appears to be ceramic tile. While I didn't come for the opera, my camera was singing the entire time I was there.
I am thrilled that the Sydney Opera House has finally been added to the list! I highly recommend taking a guided tour of the building. You may even be lucky to watch a rehearsal taking place during your tour. One piece of trivia about the opera house is that a lottery was done in order to raise money to finish building it.
|Klaus Freisinger (Austria):|
Next to the Ayers Rock, the Sydney Opera is the most identifiable and well-known Australian landmark, and probably the best-known opera house worldwide, at least in terms of its design. It is also a landmark in 20th century architecture, and of course, its location in exceedingly beautiful Sydney harbour is impossible to top. So any visit to Sydney would be incomplete without at least admiring the building from the outside, preferably from a ferry or a cruiseship. Having said that, I would say that this is also enough, and a visit of the interior of the building is not really necessary. It´s not particularly disappointing, there´s just not a whole lot to see. Still, when in Sydney, do as the Sydneysiders do and go to the opera!
|Ian Cade (England):|
I was very happy to see the Opera House added to the World Heritage list, it is an exceptional and highly identifiable building with an outstanding setting, in a great city.
The Opera House has an incredible setting backed by the Harbour Bridge on one side and the parkland containing the Botanic gardens and Mrs Macquarie's Chair on the other. This setting is iconic and, along side Prague Castle, sits as the best relationship between the natural and built environments I have seen.
It is perhaps best to view the building as a sculpture for this is where its true greatness lies. The iconic shapes of it shell provide endless joy to wander around. It is a surprise to see that it is made with small hexagonal tiles instead of large pieces of metal. These tiles reflect light and in fact my first glimpse of the Opera House was when we flew over its glow en-route to the airport.
The interior of the building however is does not live up to its exterior, in fact it is a bit of a mess. There is no real relationship between the outside and inside, and the acoustics are apparently quite poor. This contradiction of design may relate to the fact that the architect Jørn Utzon left the project before the interior was started. This was mostly due to political factors during the incredible 16-year building process. These factors were also part of the reason the site was not added to the World Heritage list earlier. In 1996 Prime Minister John Howard refused to support the nomination. Though at the time of inscription he did welcome its addition. Current plans to redevelop the interior with Utzon’s help may be an awkward situation for UNESCO though.
There are many great places to view the structure from; Mrs Macquarie’s chair is one of the best as it places the Harbour Bridge in the background. I managed to view it from the top of the Bridge, which was a truly memorable way to see it, and also provided a great tour of the Bridge, which is very impressive in its own right.
The building is not a structure that has come to prominence for being representative of a particular Modernist school, neither is it iconic for being the work of a renowned architect. Utzon himself is not going to be listed in the Pantheon of Modernist alongside Le Corbousier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mies Van der Rohe or Oscar Niemeyer. The success of the building is derived from its own shape and location which have made it a truly iconic structure, and this uniqueness is what gives it it’s outstanding universal value and makes inscription on the World Heritage List very justified.
Sydney was the first place I visited independently and I really loved it, whether it would have the same impact now that I have travelled a little more I am not sure. I do however still hold it as one of the finest ‘Modern’ cities I have visited. The Opera House and its setting are the highlight giving the city a well deserved setting on the world stage.
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