Our Fair Lady

Kim Roper

Sydney, Australia

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Artist's Description

Sydney City’s Opera House! Every time you see her and take a photograph she looks different!

A little bit of History!
Sydney Opera House (1957 – 1973) is a masterpiece of late modern architecture. It is admired internationally and proudly treasured by the people of Australia. It was created by a young architect who understood and recognised the potential provided by the site against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour. Denmark’s Jørn Utzon gave Australia a challenging, graceful piece of urban sculpture in patterned tiles, glistening in the sunlight and invitingly aglow at night. Jorn Utzon died in Copenhagen in November 2008 aged 90.

In its short lifetime, Sydney Opera House has earned a reputation as a world-class performing arts centre and become a symbol of both Sydney and the Australian nation.

History of the Design
The history surrounding the design and construction of the building became as controversial as its design. In 1956 the NSW Government called an open-ended international design competition and appointed an independent jury. The competition brief provided broad specifications to attract the best design talent in the world; it did not specify design parameters or set a cost limit. The main requirement of the competition brief was a design for two performance halls, one for opera and one for symphony concerts. Reputedly rescued from a pile of discarded submissions, Jørn Utzon’s winning entry created great community interest and the NSW Government’s decision to commission Utzon as the sole architect was unexpected, bold and visionary.

Design/Structure
The distinctive roof comprises sets of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ set upon a vast terraced platform and surrounded by terrace areas that function as pedestrian concourses.

The two main halls are arranged side by side, with their long axes, slightly inclined from each other, generally running north-south. The auditoria face south, away from the harbour with the stages located between the audience and the city. The Forecourt is a vast open space from which people ascend the stairs to the podium. The Monumental Steps, which lead up from the Forecourt to the two main performance venues, are a great ceremonial stairway nearly 100 metres wide.

The vaulted roof shells were designed by Utzon in collaboration with internationally renowned engineers Ove Arup & Partners with the final shape of the shells derived from the surface of a single imagined sphere. Each shell is composed of pre-cast rib segments radiating from a concrete pedestal and rising to a ridge beam. The shells are faced in glazed off-white tiles while the podium is clad in earth-toned, reconstituted granite panels. The glass walls are a special feature of the building, constructed according to the modified design by Utzon’s successor architect, Peter Hall.

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Artwork Comments

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