Sydney Opera House model

Made 1961-1965

This display model illustrates the design and construction principle of the Sydney Opera House roof. The model demonstrates the nature of the geometry of the roof shells. The shells were all taken from the same sphere, and the removable shell sections provide an excellent visual representation of the roof geometry.

Ove Arup was one of several prominent architects and engineers to express doubts as to the possibility of building the roof structures depicted in Utzon’s winning design for the Oper...

Summary

2003/34/1-1
Light brown wood model comprising a square board with raised semi-sphere, joined in sections. Lines radiating from top lead to the bottom of the sphere and printed in black half way on sphere 'SPHERE 246FT RADIUS'. Some of the sections are loose.

Rectangular piece of cardboard nailed to base with typed text reading 'MODEL ILLUSTRATING THE ORIGIN OF THE ROOF GEOMETRY OF THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE PRESENTED BY OVE ARUP AND PARTNERS'.

Printed on the base board below card reads 'SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE'.

Dimensions

85 mm
392 mm
391 mm

Production

Arup & Associates is an international engineering firm based in London. Arup has offices in eighty countries and its engineers have been part of several thousand large projects worldwide. Arup was founded by Danish engineer Ove Nyquist Arup (1885-1988) who established his reputation with Highpoint, Berthold Lubetkin's pioneering London apartment tower (1935). Arup's work on the Sydney Opera House project added further lustre and boosted the firm's expansion. Arup's engineers have worked closely with numerous notable architects.


Jorn Oberg Utzon (1918-2008) was born at Alborg, Denmark. His father was a naval architect, however Jorn Utzon's poor showing in class work and formal examinations (particularly in mathematics), excluded him from attending the polytechnic high school where he hoped to study, and follow his father in naval architecture. Instead he studied architecture and urban planning at the Royal Danish Institute of Fine Arts.

Prior to his work on the Sydney Opera House, Jorn Utzon designed several houses and housing estates and was placed highly in many architectural competitions for projects throughout Scandinavia and elsewhere. However he was almost unknown outside of Scandinavia.

The architectural design for the Opera House was settled by international competition. The number of entrants was huge, exceeding all expectations. By March, 1956, 881 competitors had registered. The closing date for reception of schemes was 3 December, 1956, and at this date, 231 entries had been received by the four judges. The competition winner was announced by J.J. Cahill (1891-1959), Premier of New South Wales, at a ceremony in the Art Gallery of New South Wales on 29 January, 1957. The Premier announced that Scheme number 218 had won the competition for the architectural design of the Sydney Opera House. Jorn Utzon of Denmark was entrant number 218.

Utzon left the project, controversially, in February 1966 after several disagreements with the newly-elected NSW government of Robert Askin and its Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes. In Opposition, Askin had promised to control the costs of the Opera House project. At this time the structure and exterior of the Opera House were substantially complete.

There is no doubt that the early budget estimates for the Sydney Opera House were unrealistically low, but Utzon was widely and unfairly blamed for the project's spiralling cost. As a result he struggled to attract new commissions appropriate to his abilities and new-found fame. Among the few highlights of Utzon's post-Opera House career are the National Assembly of Kuwait and the Bagsvaerd Church, Denmark. However the Sydney Opera House holds a secure place as one of the outstanding buildings of the world, while its architect is similarly esteemed.

Desmond Barrett, Curator, Engineering Design and Charles Pickett, Curator, Design and Built environment.
1961-1965

Cite this Object

Sydney Opera House model 2017, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 22 September 2017, <https://ma.as/12037>
{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/12037 |title=Sydney Opera House model |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=22 September 2017 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
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