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The Sydney Opera House in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia is one of the most distinctive and famous 20th-century buildings, and one of the most famous performing arts venues in the world. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, with parkland to its south and close to the enormous Sydney Harbour Bridge, the building and its surroundings form an iconic Australian image. To some the spherical-sectioned shells remind them of the flotilla of sailboats commonly cruising there. Tourists - mostly with little or no interest in opera - throng to the building in their thousands every week purely to see it. As well as many touring theatre, ballet, and musical productions the Opera House is the home of Opera Australia, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. It is administered by the Opera House Trust, under the New South Wales (NSW) Ministry of the Arts.


1 Description 2 History 2.1 Origins 2.2 Utzon and construction of the Opera House 2.3 Construction after Utzon 2.4 Opening 2.5 After the opening 2.6 Separate facts 3 Other images 4 Further reading 5 External links


The Sydney Opera House has about 1000 rooms, including five theatres, five rehearsal studios, two main halls, four restaurants, six bars and numerous souvenir shops. The roofs of the House are constructed of 1,056,000 glazed white granite tiles, imported from Sweden. Despite their self-cleaning nature, they are still subject to periodic maintenance and replacement. The House interior is composed of pink granite mined from Tarana, NSW and wood and brush box plywood supplied from northern NSW. The five consitutent theatres of the Sydney Opera House are the Concert Hall (with a seating capacity of 2679), the Opera Theatre (1547 seats), the Drama Theatre (544 seats), the Playhouse (398 seats) and the Studio Theatre (364 seats). The Concert Hall contains the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world with over 10,000 pipes. The shells of the Opera HouseThe theatres are housed in a series of large shells, conceived by dissecting a hemisphere. The Concert Hall and Opera Theatre are contained in the largest shells, and the other theatres are located on the sides of the shells. Large free public performances have also often been staged in front of the Monumental Steps that lead up to the base of the main sets of shells. A much smaller set of shells set to one side of the Monumental steps houses one of the formal dining restaurants.


The Sydney Opera House can be said to have had its beginnings during the late 1940s in the endeavours of Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music at the time, who lobbied to have a suitable venue for large theatrical productions built. At the time, the normal venue for such productions was the Sydney Town Hall, but this venue was simply not large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joe Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house. It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site for the Opera House. Cahill had wanted it to be on or near the Wynyard Railway Station, located in the north-western Sydney CBD. The competition that Cahill organised received 233 entries. The basic design that was finally accepted in 1955 was submitted by Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. Utzon arrived in Sydney in 1957 to help supervise the project.

Utzon and construction of the Opera House

The Bennelong Point Tram Depot, occupying the site at the time of these plans, was demolished in 1958, and formal construction of the Opera House began in March, 1959. The project was built in three stages. Stage I (1959-1963) consisted of building the upper podium. Stage II (1963-1967) saw the construction of the outer shells. Stage III consisted of the interior design and construction (1967-73). Stage I was called for tender on December 5, 1958, and work commenced on the podium on May 5, 1959 by the firm of Civil & Civic. The government had pushed for work to begin so early because they were afraid funding, or public opinion, might turn against them. However major structural issues still plagued the design (most notably the sails, which were still parabolic at the time). By January 23, 1961, work was running 47 weeks behind, mainly due to unexpected difficulties (wet weather, unexpected difficulty diverting stormwater, construction beginning before proper engineering drawings had been prepared, changes of original contract documents). Work on the podium was finally completed on August 31, 1962. Stage II, the shells were a originally designed as a series of parabolas, however engineers Ove Arup and partners had not been able to find an acceptable solution to constructing them. In mid 1961 Utzon handed the engineers his solution to the problem, the shells all being created as ribs from a sphere of the same radius. This not only satisfied the engineers, and cut down the project time drastically from what it could have been (it also allowed the roof tiles to be prefabricated in sheets on the ground, instead of being stuck on individually in mid-air), but also created the wonderful shapes so instantly recognisable today. Ove Arup and partners supervised the construction of the shells, estimating on April 6, 1962 that it would be completed between August 1964, and March 1965. By the end of 1965, the estimated finish for stage II was July 1967. Stage III, the interiors, started with Utzon moving his entire office to Sydney in February 1963. However, there was a change of government in 1965, and the new Askin government declared that the project was now under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Works. In October 1965, Utzon gave the Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, a schedule setting out the completion dates of parts of his work for stage III. Significantly, Hughes withheld permission for the construction of plywood prototypes for the interiors (Utzon was at this time working closely with Ralph Symonds, an inventive and progressive manufacturer of plywood, based in Sydney). This eventually forced Utzon to leave the project on February 28th, 1966. He said that Hughes'es refusal to pay Utzon any fees and the lack of collaboration caused his resignation, and later famously described the situation as "Malice in Blunderland". In March 1966, Hughes offered him a reduced role as 'design architect', under a panel of executive architects, without any supervisory powers over the House's construction but Utzon rejected this. The cost of the project, even in October of that year, was still only $22.9 million, less than a quarter of the final cost...

Construction after Utzon The second stage of construction was still in process when Utzon was forced to resign. His position was principally taken over by Peter Hall, who became largely responsible for the interior design. Other persons appointed that same year to replace Utzon were E.H. Farmer as government architect, D.S. Littlemore and Lionel Todd. The four significant changes to the design after Utzon left were: The cladding to the podium and the paving (the podium was originally not to be clad down to the water, but left open. Also the paving chosen was different from what Utzon would have chosen) The construction of the glass walls (Utzon was planning to use a system of prefabricated plywood mullions, and although eventually a quite inventive system was created to deal with the glass, it is different from Utzon's design) Use of the halls (The major hall which was originally to be a multipurpose opera/concert hall, became solely a concert hall. The minor hall, originally for stage productions only, had the added function of opera to deal with. Two more theatres were also added. This completely changed the layout of the interiors, where the stage machinery, already designed and fitted inside the major hall, was pulled out and largely thrown away) The interior designs (Utzon's plywood corridor designs, and his acoustic and seating designs for the interior of both halls, were scrapped completely.More importantly Utzon considered acoustics from the start of design.These designs were subsequently modelled and found to be acoustically perfect.As such the current internal organization is sub-optimal.) The Opera House was formally completed in 1973, at a cost of $102 million. The original cost estimate in 1957 was £3,500,000 ($7 million). The original completion date set by the government was January 26, 1963.


The Opera House was formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II on October 20, 1973. The opening was televised and included fireworks and a performance of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. Prior to the opening, two performances had already taken place there. On September 28, 1973, a performance of Sergei Prokofiev's War and Peace was played at the Opera Theatre. On September 29, the first public concert in the Concert Hall took place. It was performed by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Charles Mackerras and with accompanying singer Birgit Nilsson.

After the opening

By 1975, the substantial construction bill for the Opera House had been finally paid off, largely through a public lottery system. Sails of the Opera House with Harbour Bridge in background and the Monumental Steps in the foregroundThe House has been subject to some additions and improvements since its opening in 1973. The pipe organ in the Concert Hall was not completed until 1979. In 1988, a two-level walkway along the western side of Bennelong Point was added as part of Australia's bicentenary celebrations. In 1999, a fifth theatre, the Playhouse, was added to the Opera House. In 1997, French urban climber, Alain "Spiderman" Robert, using only his bare hands and feet and with no safety devices of any kind, scaled the building's exterior wall all the way to the top. It received attention during Sydney 2000 Olympics. It was included in the Olympic Torch route to the Olympic stadium, and involved Australian swimmer Samantha Riley standing on top of the Opera House waving the Olympic torch. It was the backdrop of some Olympic events, including the triathlon—which began at the Opera House—and the yachting events on Sydney Harbour. Security at the Opera House has increased as the result of the likelihood of it attracting attention of terrorists because the Australian Government's support of the invasion of Iraq. This security did not prevent two climbers painting a "No War" slogan at the top of one sail in March 2003. The repair bill for this was later revealed to be over $100,000. Following an arrangement made in 1999, plans were made to change Hall's internal design of the Opera House to that of Utzon's. The redesign involves the house's reception hall and opera theatre, and will be supervised by Utzon. As Utzon is too old to travel by plane, he undertakes the supervision from his home in Majorca. Allowances will be made for modern day technology and requirements. In September 2004, the redesign of the Reception Hall of the opera house was completed, but is now only rarely available for public inspection.

Separate facts The Sydney Opera house:

Was designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon. Was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 20 October 1973. Presented, as its first performance, The Australian Opera's production of War and Peace by Prokofiev. Cost $AU 102,000,000 to build. Conducts 3000 events each year. Provides guided tours to 200,000 people each year. Has an annual audience of 2 million for its performances. Includes 1000 rooms. Is 185 metres long and 120 metres wide. Has 2194 pre-cast concrete sections as its roof. Has roof sections weighing up to 15 tons. Has roof sections held together by 350 km of tensioned steel cable. Has over 1 million tiles on the roof. Uses 6225 square metres of glass and 645 kilometres of electric cable. The SydneyHarbourBridge is one of the major landmarks of Sydney, Australia, connecting the Sydney central business district (CBD) with the North Shore commercial and residential areas, both of which are located on Sydney Harbour. The dramatic water vista of the bridge together with the nearby Sydney Opera House is an iconic image of both Sydney and Australia. It was opened on 19 March 1932. The bridge is affectionately known as "the Coathanger" by many Sydney residents on account of its arch-based design. It was the city's tallest structure until 1967. One source of disappointment for those who had built the bridge was the discovery that the Bayonne Bridge in the United States, opened on 15 November 1931, was 700 mm longer. However, that fact was not generally known, and millions of Australian school children throughout the next 50 years were taught, erroneously, that the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the world's longest single-arch bridge. However, it remains the world's largest (but not the longest) steel arch bridge.


1 Description 2 Access 3 History 3.1 Planning 3.2 Construction 3.3 Opening of the bridge 3.4 Since the opening 4 Sydney Harbour Tunnel 5 External links 6 See also 7 References


The bridge's two ends are located in at Dawes Point (in Sydney's Rocks area) and Milsons Point (in Sydney's lower North Shore area). It carries six lanes of road traffic on its main roadway, two lanes of road traffic (formerly two tram tracks) and a footpath on its eastern side, and two railway tracks and a bicycle path along its western side. The road carried across the bridge is known as the Bradfield Highway and is about 2.4 km long, making it one of the shortest highways in Australia. (The shortest, also called the Bradfield Highway, is found on the Story Bridge in Brisbane). At 48.8 m wide, it is the widest bridge in the world (Guiness World Records, 2004). The bridge deck portion of the highway is 1.149 km long. It is concrete and lies on trimmers (beams that run along the length of the bridge). The trimmers themselves rest on steel beams that run along the width of the bridge. The trimmers and beams are visible to boats that go underneath the bridge. The SydneyHarbourBridge deck, from an RTA camera looking south. Note different road surface on the two easternmost lanes that replaced the eastern tram tracks.The arch is composed of two 28-panel arch trusses. Their heights vary from 18 m (at the center of the arch) to 57 m (beside the pylons). The arch span is 503 m and the weight of the steel arch is 39,000 tons. The arch's summit is 134 m above mean sea level, though it can increase by as much as 180 mm on hot days as the result of steel expanding in heat. Two large metal hinges at the base of the bridge accommodate these expansions and contractions and thereby prevent the arch from being damaged. The two pairs of pylons at each end are about 89 m high and are made of concrete and granite. A museum and tourist centre with a lookout of the harbour is in one of the southern pylons. Abutments, which support the ends of the bridge, are contained at the base of the pylons. They prevent the bridge from stretching or compressing due to temperature variations. The steel used for the bridge was largely imported. About 79% came from Redcar in the North East of Britain, the rest was Australian-made. The granite used was quarried in Moruya, New South Wales, and the concrete used was also Australian made. The total weight of the bridge is 52,800 t, and six million hand-driven rivets hold the bridge together.


The view from a car driving south across the bridge.

SydneyHarbourBridge as seen from the Rocks area. On the upper arch you can see tourists climbing to the top. Climbing the bridge has become a popular tourist attaction.Motor vehicle access to the bridge is normally via York Street or via the Cahill Expressway. A toll is payable at the tollgates on the southern end of the bridge. Drivers on the northern side will find themselves on the Warringah Freeway, though it is easy to turn off the freeway to drive westwards into North Sydney or eastwards to Neutral Bay and beyond upon arrival on the northern side.


To climb the arches go to

Pedestrian access from the northern side involves climbing an easily-spotted flight of stairs at Milsons Point. Pedestrian access on the southern side is more complicated, but signposts in the Rocks area now direct pedestrians to the long and sheltered flight of stairs that leads to the bridge's southern end. These stairs are located near Gloucester Street and Cumberland Street in the Sydney Rocks area. It can also be accessed from the south by getting on Cahill Walk, which runs along the Cahill Expressway. Pedestrians need to access it from Circular Quay from a flight of stairs, or a lift. The bridge lies between Milson's Point and Wynyard railway stations, located on the north and south shores respectively. Both are part of the North Shore line.


There had been plans to build a bridge as early as 1815, when Francis Greenway proposed that a bridge be built across the harbour. Nothing came of this. The building of the current bridge can be said to have started in 1890, when a royal commission determined that there was a heavy level of ferry traffic in the Sydney Harbour area, best relieved with the construction of a bridge. Vehicular access to the north shore was undertaken with a series of smaller bridges located further westwards in the harbour, but this was insufficient for the traffic in the Sydney/North Sydney area. Designs and proposals were requested in 1900, but a formal proposal was not accepted until 1911. In 1912, John Bradfield was appointed chief engineer of the bridge project, which also had to include a railway. He completed a formal design - the now familiar single arch shape - in 1916, but plans to implement the design were postponed until 1922, primarily because of World War I. In November 1922 the NSW parliament passed laws that allowed the bridge's construction. Construction tenders for the bridge were requested the same year, and the British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd, Middlesbrough won. To offset concerns about a foreign firm participating in the project, assurances were given by Bradfield that the workforce building the bridge would all be Australians.


The building of the bridge coincided with the construction of a system of underground railways in Sydney's CBD, known today as the City Circle, and the bridge was designed with this in mind. The bridge was designed to carry six lanes of road traffic, flanked by two railway tracks and a footpath on each side. Both sets of rail tracks were linked into the underground Wynyard railway station, on the south side of the bridge, by symmetrical ramps and tunnels. The eastern-side railway tracks were used to carry trams from the north into a terminal within that station.


The building of the bridge was under the management of Bradfield. Three other persons were involved in the bridge's design and construction: Laurence Ennis, the engineer-in-charge at Dorman Long and Co was the main supervisor (Bradfield visited occasionally throughout the project, and in particular at the many key stages of the project, to inspect progress and make managerial decisions); Edward Judge was Chief Technical Engineer of Dorman Long and later became President of the British Iron and Steel Federation; Sir Ralph Freeman was hired by the company to design the accepted model in further detail. Later a bitter disagreement broke out between Bradfield and Freeman as to who actually designed the bridge. Another name connected with the bridge's design is that of Arthur Plunkett. The construction project itself began in 1923, with the demolition of 800 homes. The owners of these homes received compensation, but their occupants did not. The first stage of the bridge project was the building of two worksheds at Milson's Point to assist in building the bridge - the light and heavy workshops. Their purpose was to build the bridge's many parts. The Arch being constructed. Painting by Grace Cossington Smith (1926).The first sod for the bridge was turned that same year. In January 1925, the excavations to build the abutments and approach spans began. In October 1925, the building of the abutments and approach spans themselves began, and these were completed in September 1928. Construction of the bridge itself began in December 1928, with the construction of the bridge parts in the workshops. Construction of the arch of the bridge began in 1929, with two separate teams building the arch on each side using creeper cranes. The first panel was erected on the southern side in March 1929. The southern end of the bridge was worked on a month ahead of the northern end, in order to detect any errors and to ensure that they did not happen on the northern side. The arch was successfully joined on the afternoon of 19 August 1930. Ennis and four associates personally witnessed this whilst standing on top of the bridge. Following a parting that occurred due to the contracting of metal in the evening, the ends were rejoined at 10 pm, and have remained joined since then. The road and the two sets of tram and railway tracks were completed in 1931. Power and telephone lines, and water, gas and drainage pipes were also all added to the bridge in that year. On 19 January 1932, the first test train, a steam locomotive, safely crossed the bridge. About 90 others also crossed the bridge in the months that followed as part of a series of tests to ensure the bridge's safety. The construction worksheds were demolished after the bridge was completed, and the land that they were on is now occupied by Luna Park and the North Sydney swimming pool. The standards of industrial safety during construction were poor by today's standards. Sixteen workers died during construction, mainly from falling off the bridge. Several more were injured from unsafe working practices undertaken whilst heating and constructing its rivets, and deafness experienced by many of the workers in later years was blamed on the project. The total financial cost of the bridge was £10,057,170/7/9. This was not paid off in full until 1988.

Opening of the bridge

SydneyHarbourBridge.The bridge was formally opened on 19 March 1932. The opening itself became an event in its own right. Amongst those who attended and gave speeches were the State Governor, Sir Philip Game, the Minister for Public Works, and Ennis. The Premier of NSW, Labor politician Jack Lang, intended to formally open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end. However, just as he was about to do so, instead Captain Francis de Groot moved forward on a horse and slashed the ribbon with a sword, declaring the bridge to be open. He was promptly arrested and later convicted of offensive behaviour. The ribbon itself was hurriedly retied and Lang performed the opening ceremony. After he did so, there was a 21-gun salute and a RAAF fly-past. It was later revealed that de Groot was not a member of the regular Army. He was in fact a member of a 1930s right-wing paramilitary group called the New Guard, opposed to Lang's leftist policies. He had been impersonating a member of the military present that day on the bridge. The incident itself was one of several that Lang had with the New Guard in that year. A similar ribbon-cutting ceremony on the bridge's northern side by North Sydney's mayor, Alderman Primrose, was carried out without incident. It was later discovered that Primrose was also a New Guard member, but his role in and knowledge of the de Groot incident, if any, are unclear. A message from a primary school in Tottenham, 550 km away in rural NSW, arrived at the bridge on the day and was presented at the opening ceremony. It had been carried all the way from Tottenham to the bridge by relays of school children, with the final relay being run by two children from the nearby Fort Street Boys' and Girls' school. Other features of the opening ceremony included a vast display of floats and marching bands - one quite remarkable by Depression standards. The public was allowed to walk on the highway. There had been numerous preparatory arrangements. On 14 March 1932, three postage stamps were issued to commemorate the imminent opening of the bridge. One of these stamps, with a face value of five shillings, is worth several hundred dollars today. Several songs were also composed in advance for the occasion. These have now been largely lost or forgotten. The bridge itself was regarded as a triumph over Depression times.

Since the opening

The bridge, with the ball hung up as part of New Year's Eve celebrations to mark the end of 2004Since the opening, the bridge has been the focal point of much tourism and national pride. It is Sydney's focal point of New Year and Australia Day celebrations, with fireworks being set off from the arch. Tragically, it has also been the scene of about 40 suicides, many of which took place within months of the bridge's opening. In 1958 tram services across the bridge were withdrawn and the tracks they had used were removed and replaced by two extra road lanes; these lanes are now the leftmost southbound lanes on the bridge and are still clearly distinguishable from the original six road lanes. They connect the bridge to the elevated Cahill Expressway that carries traffic to the Eastern Distributor. In 1982, the bridge celebrated the 50th anniversary of its opening. Once again, the bridge was closed to vehicles and pedestrians allowed full access for the day. The clebrations were attended by Edward Judge who had been involved in the construction and represented Dorman Long. Australia's bicentennial celebrations on 26 January 1988 attracted large crowds in the bridge's vicinity.

Sydney Harbour Tunnel

Also in 1988, work began to build a tunnel to complement the bridge. It was determined that the bridge could no longer support the increased traffic flow of the 1980s. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel was completed in August 1992. It is intended only for use by motor vehicles. Before it was officially opened for use, the tunnel was made open for pedestrian access, with persons on that day able to walk down the tunnel's roadway. The Tunnel is tolled at the same rate as the bridge, in the southbound direction only. In May 2000 the bridge was closed to vehicular access for a day to allow a special reconciliation march - the "Walk for Reconciliation" - to take place. This was part of a response to an Aboriginal "Stolen Generation" inquiry, which found widespread suffering had taken place amongst Australian Aboriginal children forcibly placed into the care of white parents in a little-publicised government scheme. A large number of Australians walked the Bradfield Highway in a symbolic gesture of crossing a divide. During the Sydney 2000 Olympics in September and October 2000, the bridge was adorned with the Olympic Rings. It was included in the Olympic torch's route to the Olympic stadium. The men's and women's Olympic marathon events likewise included the bridge as part of their route to the Olympic stadium. A massive fireworks display at the end of the closing ceremony ended at the bridge. Security on the bridge has recently been introduced. It has been deemed likely that the bridge will attract the attention of terrorists because of Australia's support of the War on Terrorism.

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Some information on this page is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It is derived from the Wikipedia article "sydneyoperahouse".