News and Events

Building the Sydney Opera House exhibition

Charlotte S Charlotte Fernández UKIMEA Press Office,Leeds
8 April 2014

Arup’s exhibition celebrating the Sydney Opera House is on show at 8 Fitzroy Street, from 11 April to 25 July 2014. The exhibition is part of a number of global events marking the 40th anniversary of the Opera House, which began in Sydney in October 2013.

The exhibition includes photography, historical drawings and models. It will display detail from the evolution of the Opera House design; a project which took nearly 16 years to complete from Danish architect Jørn Utzon winning the 1957 competition to its opening in 1973.

Utzon’s concept for a concert hall cum opera house, with the world’s most elaborate shell roof complex was extraordinary, radical and regarded by many within the architectural and engineering professions as impossible to build – an engineering challenge to which Ove Arup enthusiastically rose.

The exhibition focuses on two specific phases of the Opera House story: the evolution of the roof structure, known as Stage 2, and the design of the glass walls by architect Peter Hall who joined the project after Utzon’s departure in 1966.

The show, curated by Jennifer Greitschus, Arup, and Anne Watson, editor of 'Building a masterpiece: the Sydney Opera House', includes work by Australian modernist photographer Max Dupain and historical drawings from the Arup archives.

Arup collaborated with the Utzon Archives at Aalborg University, Denmark, which has lent early models of the roof structure, while a model from the Arup collection shows the spherical roof geometry. The original model of the crane, from the Sydney Opera House collection, which was specially designed to lift the roof segments into place, is also on show. Additionally, the exhibition boasts a specially commissioned digitally fabricated model of the incredible roof structure.

Finally, the exhibition launches a new documentary film with interviews from a number of people who worked on the Opera House, including Arup’s project director at the time, Sir Jack Zunz.