Australia’s most photographed and loved icon
The first thing you’ll notice about the Syney Opera House is its size and shape. It sits perfectly in scale with its surroundings and is equally magnificent from all angles. Its beautiful sails fit perfectly with the Sydney Harbour setting.
When formulating his design Jørn Utzon studied the topography and relationship of Bennelong Point (home of the Sydney Opera House) to the harbour and surrounding land marks via naval charts, photographs, a site plan, and watching a short film on Sydney. It was his intention to create a sculptural form that would relate as naturally to the harbour as the sails of its yachts.
The Opera House took 16 years to build and was completed in 1973. During construction of the Opera House complex engineering problems and escalating costs made it a source of great public debate.
The technical challenge of how to construct the roof sails took four years to solve. Utzon spent twelve months developing the tiles with one of the best ceramic factories in the world, Höganäs in Sweden. Inspired by a Chinese tradition in ceramic firing, for a glass-like finish, Utzon worked with Höganäs to develop the tiles which were specifically suited to the building.
The sails of the Sydney Opera House have received the following praise:
The sun did not know how beautiful its light was, until it was reflected off this building. (Louis Kahn in Sydney Opera House, Utzon Design Principles, May 2002)
The Sydney Opera House has now become Australia’s most recognisable building and is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement.
It is visited by thousands everyday, it is almost certainly Australia’s most photographed and loved icon.