The Spectacular History Of The Sydney Opera House

Video highlights from Engineering Connections

How did Australia’s most recognisable building take shape?

The idea for the Sydney Opera House gained momentum in 1954 when NSW state premier Joe Cahill brought together a committee to begin work on "an edifice that will be a credit to the state not only today but also for hundreds of years."

In December 1955, Mr Cahill announced an international design competition for an opera house, with Sydney's Bennelong Point named as the site for the project.

When the competition closed a year later, 233 entries had been submitted from 28 different countries including Australia, England, Kenya, Germany and Iran.

The winning entry, by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, has been described as “a challenging, graceful piece of urban sculpture in patterned tiles, glistening in the sunlight and invitingly aglow at night.”

Remarkably, Utzon had never visited the site before winning the competition, instead relying on his naval expertise to study charts of the harbour.

The construction process was enormous, requiring 10,000 builders, 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections, 250 kilometres of tensioned steel cable and more than one million roof tiles.

From an original costing of $7 million, the final construction total was $102 million.

In 2007, the Sydney Opera House was formally recognised as one of the most remarkable places on earth with its inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

With its shining white sails contrasting with the bright blue water of Sydney Harbour, the Sydney Opera House attracts more than 8.2 million visitors every year and is one of the world’s most photographed locations.

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