The Opera House in Sydney is the most famous building in Australia, erected after a long construction period in 1974. There are still disputes about its architectural style, but the theater has long been a symbol and hallmark of this distant city.
Some people think that the opera in Sydney is a frozen musical composition, others think it is a wind-filled white sails, others are sure that from a distance the building looks like a huge whale, thrown by a storm onto the sea shore.
The architecture of the Sydney Opera House
It is well known that the vast majority of other theaters in the world were built in the strict style of classicism. And the Sydney Opera House is true expressionism in architecture, a fresh take on classical music and opera singing.
It has an unusual roof and stands on stilts in the water, which it is surrounded by. The theater has a huge area – about 22,000 square meters, many large halls, studios, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, souvenir shops and other premises.
The largest theater hall in terms of area is the concert hall, which can accommodate more than 2,600 people. There is a giant organ in this hall, and there are frequent concerts of organ music.
The second largest hall is called the opera house, its capacity is 1.5 thousand people, here are staged operas and ballets. The third hall is called the Drama Theater, it has a seating capacity of 500 spectators and is designed for theatrical productions.
The most unique thing about the theater is its roof, made in the shape of sails or flower petals. It cannot be confused with any other building. The Sydney Opera House is on the famous UNESCO World Heritage List.
The roof of this building is nearly 70 meters high and has a radius of 75 meters. It is made in the form of many petals or sails nested within each other. The total weight of the roof is more than 30,000 kg.
The surface of the segments that cover the roof of the Opera House in Sydney are lined with smooth white tiles. Interestingly, during the day, depending on the light, its color varies from pure white to light beige tone.
Due to the fact that the surface of the roof is not smooth, there were serious acoustic problems inside. So I had to make an additional sound-reflecting ceiling. The reflective function is performed by special gutters on the ceiling.
History of the Sydney Opera House
The idea to build an opera house in Sydney came to the mind of an English conductor, Eugene Goossens, who came to Australia to record radio concerts. Nor was there a single building where the opera could be housed.
At Hussens’ request, the Australian authorities decided to build a theater where not only classical music but also modern music could be heard.
In Sydney, a promontory was chosen on the seashore near the waterfront. There was a streetcar park there at the time, it was moved to another place, and immediately announced a professional competition for the design of the future opera house.
Hussens had enemies and jealousies due to the development of the tumultuous activity of building this theater. Suddenly customs found prohibited items in his luggage, and he was forced to leave Australia.
A qualified commission of Australia’s best architects was established, and it gave the characteristics of the future Sydney Opera House project. More than 200 projects from around the world were submitted for the competition.
Originally, the project was supposed to have two large halls, as well as a room for rehearsals, a room for props, several restaurants, etc. Later, the conditions changed considerably.
The complexity of the project was that the opera house had to be built on the water, the construction area was small, so many of the proposed options looked too massive, heavy. In the end, almost all of them were rejected by the commission.
And it was only because of the unique, sail-like, airy white roof that the committee members paid attention to the project, the author of which was Jorn Watson from Denmark, the owner of many original architectural ideas.
He was famous for his unconventional view of modern architecture, but most of his projects were never implemented, they were considered too pretentious, disconnected from the realities of life.
However, in Sydney, the opera with sails was immediately taken up, valued at seven million Australian dollars, which is quite an adequate price. The first funds were raised through a lottery.
After the project was approved, it turned out that it still had a lot of work to do, a number of key issues have not been resolved, and this has not been done even today. Such a building was being built for the first time, the builders had no relevant experience, they were experimenting.
Many extraordinary decisions were made in the process of construction, we had to remodel what had already been built. Gradually the cost of the project increased significantly: from 7 to 102 million. Australian dollars.
The construction began to drag on, which drew the attention of local parliamentarians, and crowds of opponents of the Sydney Opera House appeared. Then the ruling party lost another election and went into opposition.
The money allocated for construction from the lottery fund was frozen, and later it was squandered on the construction of social facilities. As a result, Chief Architect Watson abandoned the unfinished site and went home to Denmark for good.
A new architect, Hall, was appointed, but many Australians are convinced that he has ruined the opera house. Although he managed to finish it in the early 1970s, it was with unfinished interiors.
Thirty years later he received an offer to return and complete the opera, but he declined. Such a long construction is worse than it sometimes is in our country. But the Sydney Opera House is considered one of the most magnificent buildings of the 20th century.
The interiors of the theater are finished with precious wood and pink granite, sometimes reminiscent in places of unfinished cabins and the deck of an ancient sailing ship, connected with huge sails on the roof.
The Sydney Opera House once participated in an international competition to be recognized as one of the wonders of the world. In the end, it lost to other projects, but was among the winners, a fact of which the Australians are extremely proud.