She’s big, she is beautiful and widely complex in her construction. She is one of the biggest representation of Australian Architecture, heritage listed and she pulls a big crowd.
Last year I was lucky enough to travel over to Sydney for a university trip, and despite my class’s long walking tours, I didn’t get a chance to stand on her steps and take her all in. The Opera House would always be in the background, but the opportunity to have a sneak peek inside, didn’t fit into our schedule.
However last month on a spontaneous trip over, I thought the chance was too good to pass up, so Peter and I ventured in. Following our other budding tourists along the edge of the harbor, we started to realize the enormity of scale of the Sydney Opera House. Not only in the building itself, but the space she occupies.
Running along the harbor and underneath the grounds of the Opera house is array of restaurants and bars, which open into the late evenings. The space is quite low, however there is a opportunity for beautiful views and intimate gatherings.
Climbing the stairs were a joy in themselves, and the attention to detail on the stone steps, really impress the architecture student inside me. Floating steps can be a hard to pull off, however here they seamless and despite their age, some of them has held up quite well. The sails of the building felt like elegant sky scrapers. The form teleport’s you away, and creates an environment where the building and the steps become a foreign land.
Entering the Opera House from above through the main entrance, your immediately pulled into a low bearing space. With amazing concrete strips, where lights are hung within each wave of bearers.
This contrast of the open exterior and intimate interior, shows the number of scales that run through the opera house as you move into each section. The bathrooms were a of beautiful copper design, with raw materials. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get a picture, I was rushing to get in time with our the tour. But if you go, the toilets are worth seeing.
The Sydney Opera House original design was not meant to become enclosed, in fact the sails that you see from the outside, were meant to be open like large shelters. Where the public can come and congregate to watch the harbor from a platform, and witness outdoor performances.
During the worldwide competition in 1956, the design by Jorn Utzon was chosen, and then redesign again to create an enclosed opera house within the sails. Once we started to make our way through the Opera House, we were able to see where the sails meet the platform, and the great complexity in its construction. The sails were made of precast concrete sections (like slices, if you will), which then was shipped from France and put together piece by piece, this helped maintain the opera houses curves.
Then as we moved further through each space, we could see the differences between the heavy concrete sails, and the steel and glass workings of the opera house, where one meets the other.
Despite the somewhat mash up between the sails and the opera house, everything seems to work together, and fit in. The red interior, for the harbor view, is like nothing I’ve seen before. The forms of the red steel blanketing over within the space, provides a more sharper visual window towards the harbor, and an interesting interior feature.
The 1,000,000 tiles outside on the sails, are of a particular colour, to limit glare from the sun, as well as being seen clearly from a distance.
During our time there, Sydney was in the mist of there Vivid festival and many of the performances, within the Opera House were under construction and going through rehearsals. Because of this the group were not allowed to take any photos, which was a shame, because the concert halls are beautiful. Within their main hall, they have world’s largest mechanical tracker-action pipe organ. With their pipes ranging from the size of an average human hand to 15 meters high.
One of the concert halls we were able to take photos in was the Utzon Room. It is a small intimate performance space, which would usually have a piano and a few chairs. Despite its size, it was a lovely space to be in. Originally the room was boarded up, and the interior was of white walls and the timber floor was covered. This did not sit too well with Utzon, and he requested it to be stripped back to its original concrete ceilings, timber floor boards and timber paneling walls. The tapestry was created by him, and hung proudly. The room wasn’t original named after him, however it is the only original Utzon design in the opera house, and in 2004 it was named in his honour.
The tour was over before we knew it, as a former architecture student, I was hoping for some basement tours, alas it was not meant to be.
If you are ever in Sydney, do get down to the Opera House, even if its only up to its stairs, because its worth seeing up close.
The tours run daily and go for around one hour. There are two tours, there is the main one, which Peter and I went on, and there is the backstage tour. Bookings can be done online, or you can always book them once your inside.
Prices range from $37 for Adults, $20 for Children and $95 for families. But Check out their main website for more information and history behind this historical building.
Thanks for stopping by.