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Denis Wilson

Great post.
Great architect, great building, but, as you say, not really an Opera House, in functionality.

As for "no bad angles" - what about the Toast Rack smack in behind it? Admittedly that is a separate building, but it certainly blights the transcendence of the Opera House.

Utzon will be remembered long after the idiots who blocked his vision from being completed.

As for his "lifelong pout", (what I would call a "World-class Dummy Spit") actually only serves to endear the man to me. He did agree to work, with his son, on the plans for the interior renovation, but still refused to come back to see it "in the flesh", as it were.



:-) I've seen the building so often, in views of the city, but I never knew any of its story. Great post.

Philip Gleeson

I remember watching a documentary about the building of the opera house where it was claimed that Utzon's original design was more than just playful sculpture but a daring design where the very form of shells were to create the acoustics of the interior, forming immense parabolic lenses to focus the sound within. I'm no architect, but in that context, the current slapdash interiors are indeed a tragedy. However it's easy to understand how the massive budget blow-out from $A7 million to $A100 million might stretch the patience of any patron.

Jarrett at HumanTransit.org

Thanks for the comments.

Denis -- I agree that there are bad angles on the building's context, though I honestly don't hate the Toast Rack as much as we're all supposed to.

Philip -- Yes, even in the public transport industry, where I work, a truly humiliating, career-destroying cost blowout on a major rail project might be something like +200% -- i.e. a final cost of triple the estimated one. The +1400% blowout on the Opera House remains an important part of the building's legend, and earned it its chapter in Peter Hall's Great Planning Disasters. It was indeed a world-class blowout for a world-class city.

Dan Hill

Nice post Jarrett. I'd also recommend anyone interested in the design process here should check out Peter Jones's biography of Ove Arup. You'll get a richer view of what actually happened there ... Let's just say there appears to be more to the (design process) story than is usually told. As for the cost, I reckon it will have paid for itself *at least* 1400 times over (not just for itself, but for Sydney, for Australia etc.) ... While not excusing poor management, that's one of the other issues this story gives us - how do you actually measure the cost and value of a building?


They are reptilian. The upper hump of that stegesaurus guy whatever its called now. What an interesting post, Jarrett. I always learn reading you.

The building is playful indeed. I wonder if, climbing it, Philippe Petit was impelled to slide down any of the "flaps" or find out what was inside the troughs between.


Paris Hotels

I've seen the building so often, in views of the city, but I never knew any of its story. It was really to nice to read this post. Now i am really very much excited to visit this place. I hope i wll go very soon.

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