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Timeless Icons – Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

Few structures are as well-known as Sydney's Opera House in Australia. The opera building, which is perhaps the world's eighth wonder, has a rich history behind its architecture. The story behind this magnificent structure began in 1956 when the New South Wales Government called an open competition for the design of two performance halls, for opera and for symphony concerts, that would put Sydney on the map.


A Sculpture that Would Forever Alter the Direction of Twentieth-Century Architecture

The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon was a relatively unknown 38 year old Dane in January 1957 when his entry was announced winner of the international competition to design a ‘national opera house’ for Sydney’s Bennelong Point. His vision for a sculptural, curved building on the Harbour broke radically with the cube and rectangular shapes of modernist architecture. The structure altered his career and, as a result, the image of a whole nation.


To celebrate the beginning of the Sydney Opera House building project, thousands of people gathered beneath umbrellas on March 2, 1959, in the pouring rain. Just one week before to his arrival in Sydney, Utzon had brought with him a bronze plaque that would be put where the two halls' axes were going to cross. The plaque was bolted into place by NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, and jackhammering commenced immediately. Even now, the plaque may be found on the stairs.


Building the project took place in three parts, including the foundation and construction of the platform facing Sydney Harbor, outer shell construction, and interior construction. Even though work began abruptly, key structural issues remained unsolved, and certain parts of the podium had to be changed and rebuilt after its completion in 1963 in order to sustain the huge concrete buildings it was supporting, according to a fascinating fact. The team spent the duration between 1957-1963 developing a shell system that would make the original spherical scheme structurally possible. After 12 reiterations, as a result of their efforts, they constructed a ribbed system of precast concrete shells created from sections of a sphere.


The Sydney Opera House's sculptural beauty, which combines classical and modernist inspirations, has made it one of the most recognized buildings of the 20th century, synonymous with inspiration and creativity. This lead to Pritzker Prize judge Frank Gehry to state when awarding architecture’s highest award to the Opera House’s architect in 2003: “Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology... a building that changed the image of an entire country.”

Today, there are more than 8.2 million tourists that come here every year, and it's one of the busiest performing arts centers in the world, offering more than 2000 events every year for more than one and half million guests.

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