Sydney Opera House

The Sydney Opera House is Australia’s most recognizable building and is an icon of Australia’s creative and technical achievement. Since its completion in 1973 it has attracted worldwide acclaim for its design and construction, enhanced by its location on Bennelong Point within a superb harbour setting.

The design of the building, with its soaring white roof shell shaped sails atop a massive red granite platform, has been internationally acclaimed as an architectural icon of the 20th century. As a dominant sculptural building that can be seen and experienced from all sides, it is the focal point of Sydney Harbour and a reflection of its character.


It took 16 years to build. Constructed between 1957 and 1973, is a masterpiece of modern architectural design, engineering and construction technology in Australia. It exhibits the creative genius of its designer, the Pritzker Prize winner Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the successful engineering by the Danish firm Ove Arup and Partners, and the Australian building contractors M R Hornibrook. The completion of the project was overseen by the architects Hall, Todd and Littlemore, and the story of its construction was one of great controversy.


The technical challenge of how to construct the roof sails took four years to solve. The roof sails were based on the geometry of the sphere and Utzon used this to demonstrate the creative potential and the assembly of prefabricated, repeated components. It was seen as a structure at the leading edge of endeavour.


Today the Sydney Opera House is a national cultural centre that has gained widespread recognition and respect as a performing arts venue, and includes a concert hall, opera and drama theatres, a playhouse and a studio. It is a fitting showcase for many of the world’s leading performers. As Utzon envisioned, the Sydney Opera House reflects its pivotal place in Australia’s creative history ‘an individual face for Australia in the world of art’.


Facts about the Sydney Opera house:

  • was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon
  • opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973
  • presented, as its first performance, the Australian Opera’s production of War and Peace
  • cost $AU 102,000,000 to build
  • conducts 3000 events each year
  • provides guided tours to 200,000 people each year
  • has an annual audience of 2 million for its performances
  • includes 1000 rooms
  • is 185 metres long and 120 metres wide
  • has 2194 pre-cast concrete sections as its roof
  • has roof sections weighing up to 15 tons
  • has roof sections held together by 350 km of tensioned steel cable
  • has over one million tiles on the roof
  • uses 6225 square metres of glass and 645 kilometres of electric cable.



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