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Sydney Opera House
building complex for performing arts

Sydney's magnificent Opera House building was the centre of conflict from the time Danish architect Joern Utzon won the international design competition for the building in 1957. People still argue about how well Utzon managed the project - the building was completed in 1973 without him.

But the Opera House was also the focus for many architectural innovations. These included the pioneering use of computers to calculate the stresses and loads on the two-way curved roofs, and development of a way to build the roofs in concrete.

The Opera House experience gave its builders and designers pre-eminence in computer aided reinforced concrete design, skills that they've since used on overseas projects.

The pipe organ in the concert hall of the Sydney Opera House was designed and built by self-taught organ builder Ron Sharp between 1967 and 1979. When the organ was finished it was the largest mechanical organ in the world, with innovative features such as electronic stops control and a computerised playback system.

Another innovation that is sometimes overlooked is that the NSW government met the $103 million price tag by appealing to the Australian love of gambling, through the profits from a series of Opera House lotteries.

Who Did It?
Key Organisations
NSW Department of Public Works : design, construction
Key People
Joern Utzon : architect
Peter Rice : design engineer
Ronald Sharp : designer, builder

Further Reading
'Utzon breaks his silence'
Eric Ellis
Good Weekend, 31 October 1992, pp 12-19.

Sydney Opera House organ
Ava Hubble
Sydney Opera House Trust, Sydney, 1980.

Sydney Opera House. Official site includes timeline
Great Buildings Online
Australian Cultural Network
Sydney Morning Herald articles

The Opera House under construction. Courtesy Powerhouse Museum.
The spectacular pipe organ in the Opera House concert hall. Photo courtesy Pieter Stroethoff.
ATSE Powerhouse Museum