Idea to Icon
Resting prominently on Sydney’s historic Bennelong Point, the Sydney Opera House 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 recognized the potential provided by the site against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbor. Denmark’s Jørn Utzon, selected as sole architect in 1956 through an international design competition, gave Australia a challenging, graceful piece of urban sculpture in patterned tiles, glistening in the sunlight and invitingly aglow at night. Today, the halls at the Sydney Opera House attract over 8 million visitors each year.
Design and Construction
Constructed between 1959 and 1973, the Opera House was built in three stages: Stage I (1959-1963) consisted of building the upper podium; Stage II (1963-1967) the construction of the outer shells; Stage III (1967-1973) interior design and construction. Today, the Sydney Opera House stands out with its distinctive roof set in the remarkable waterscape of the Sydney Harbour. Known for his radical approach, Utzon envisioned a design solution of interlocking vaulted “shells,” each of which is composed of pre-cast rib segments rising from a concrete pedestal to the ridge beam. The construction of these shells took eight years to complete and the development of a special ceramic tile for the shells took over three years.
A National Treasure
When the Sydney Opera House was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2007, architect Utzon said, “It is a gift to the city of Sydney,” adding that the listing was also a tribute to all who worked on the building. The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee stated: ”….it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.” Being the youngest site of UNESCO’s list, the Sydney Opera House is also one of only two cultural sites to be inscribed through UNESCO during the lifetime of its architect.
Capturing the Opera House
In April, 2013, the Scottish Ten team scanned the Sydney Opera House using cutting-edge laser-mapping technology. The Scottish Ten is an ambitious five-year collaboration between Historic Scotland, experts in 3D visualization at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and not-for-profit digital heritage organization CyArk, with the ultimate goal of digitally documenting 5 Scottish sites and 5 international sites in 5 years. The Sydney Opera House is the most modern building to be scanned by the Scottish Ten team.