Friday, December 13, 2013

Its a best place to Watch sunrise/sunset other than Performance.

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Situated on Bennelong Point in Sydney Harbour, close to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the facility is adjacent to the Sydney central business district and the Royal Botanic Gardens, between Sydney and Farm Coves. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, the facility formally opened on 20 October 1973 after a gestation beginning with Utzon's 1957 selection as winner of an international design competition.

The NSW Government, led by Premier Joseph Cahill authorised work to begin in 1958, with Utzon directing construction. The government's decision to build Utzon's design is often overshadowed by circumstances that followed, including cost and scheduling overruns as well as the architect's ultimate resignation.

Rev: "What a breathtaking experience. We learned all about it's construction and it's problems. Saw videos and photos. The tour guide knew a lot and answered all our questions. Lovely photgraph package as a souvenir. Would recommend."
Though its name suggests a single venue, the project comprises multiple performance venues which together are among the busiest performing arts centres in the world  hosting over 1,500 performances each year attended by some 1.2 million people. The venues produce and present a wide range of in-house productions and accommodate numerous performing arts companies, including four key resident companies: Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet, the Sydney Theatre Company and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

As one of the most popular visitor attractions in Australia, more than seven million people visit the site each year, with 300,000 people participating annually in a guided tour of the facility. Identified as one of the 20th century's most distinctive buildings and one of the most famous performing arts centres in the world, the facility is managed by the Sydney Opera House Trust, under the auspices of the New South Wales Ministry of the Arts.

Rev: "It's a must see for every visitor to Sydney, take a trip around the operas house it's worth the money just to see the superb architecture."
The Sydney Opera House became a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007. The facility features a modern expressionist design, with a series of large precast concrete "shells", each composed of sections of a sphere of 75.2 metres radius, forming the roofs of the structure, set on a monumental podium. The building covers 1.8 hectares of land and is 183 m long and 120 m wide at its widest point. It is supported on 588 concrete piers sunk as much as 25 m below sea level.

Although the roof structures are commonly referred to as "shells" (as in this article), they are precast concrete panels supported by precast concrete ribs, not shells in a strictly structural sense.

Rev: "We were lucky enough to see the ballet dancers practice and a visiting conductor warm up the orchestra. Beautiful buildings with an interesting history. An hour well spent."
Though the shells appear uniformly white from a distance, they actually feature a subtle chevron pattern composed of 1,056,006 tiles in two colours: glossy white as well as matte cream. The tiles were manufactured by the Swedish company, Höganäs AB, which generally produced stoneware tiles for the paper-mill industry. Apart from the tile of the shells and the glass curtain walls of the foyer spaces, the building's exterior is largely clad with aggregate panels composed of pink granite quarried at Tarana.

Rev: "We took the one hour tour and learned a great deal about the beginning, the unique design, the difficulty devising a way to do the construction, delays and cost over runs - and the politics (ever changing with a long project). It makes one wonder how the idea occurred! The materials used, inside and out, are special and well thought out. You may even have an opportunity to see a rehearsal as we did of the ballet."
Significant interior surface treatments also include off-form concrete, Australian white birch plywood supplied from Wauchope in northern New South Wales, and brush box glulam. Of the two larger spaces, the Concert Hall is in the western group of shells, the Joan Sutherland Theatre in the eastern group.

The scale of the shells was chosen to reflect the internal height requirements, with low entrance spaces, rising over the seating areas up to the high stage towers.

Rev: "I visited the Sydney Opera House in 2002 with my best friend. We did a tour and then went to see and hear a piano concerto in this amazing building. The architecture alone is outstanding and the design history and concept both fascinating and scientific. The most treasured gifts from my parents were my piano lessons from the age of eight, and my appreciation for the experience of being in the same building as the Sydney Orchestra cannot be put into words. I love pianos, travel and the man I went with. The experience was fantastic."
The smaller venues (the Drama Theatre, the Playhouse, and The Studio) are within the podium, beneath the Concert Hall. A smaller group of shells set to the western side of the Monumental Steps houses the Bennelong Restaurant. The podium is surrounded by substantial open public spaces, and the large stone-paved forecourt area with the adjacent monumental steps is regularly used as a performance space.

The building also houses a recording studio, cafes, restaurants and bars and retail outlets. Guided tours are available, including a frequent tour of the front-of-house spaces, and a daily backstage tour that takes visitors backstage to see areas normally reserved for performers and crew members.

Rev: "A guided tour in the operahouse, add a dimension to this fantastic building, that I wouldn't have been without."
It houses the following performance venues:

  1. The Concert Hall, with 2,679 seats, the home of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.
  2. The Joan Sutherland Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 1,507 seats, the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet. Until 16 October 2012 it was known as the Opera Theatre.
  3. The Drama Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 544 seats, used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.
  4. The Playhouse, an end-stage theatre with 398 seats.
  5. The Studio, a flexible space with a maximum capacity of 400, depending on configuration.
  6. The Utzon Room, a small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210.
  7. The Forecourt, a flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including the possibility of utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events and major outdoor performances. The Forecourt will be closed to visitors and performances in 2011–2014 to construct a new entrance tunnel to a rebuilt loading dock for the Joan Sutherland Theatre.

Planning began in the late 1940s, when Eugene Goossens, the Director of the NSW State Conservatorium of Music, lobbied for a suitable venue for large theatrical productions. The normal venue for such productions, the Sydney Town Hall, was not considered large enough. By 1954, Goossens succeeded in gaining the support of NSW Premier Joseph Cahill, who called for designs for a dedicated opera house.

It was also Goossens who insisted that Bennelong Point be the site: Cahill had wanted it to be on or near Wynyard Railway Station in the northwest of the CBD. A design competition was launched by Cahill on 13 September 1955 and received 233 entries, representing architects from 32 countries.

Rev: "As visitors to Sydney it was a fabulous experience to do a one hour tour with a great guide and to see the main theatres of the opera house. Good deals for Seniors and for booking over the web."
 Rev: "We only viewed the Sydney Opera House from the outside and it was still worth a trip to Sydney to see it; there is nothing else like it anywhere in the world. We traveled to Australia for the first time and decided to spend the majority of our time in Port Douglas as we were especially interested in scuba diving the Great Barrier Reef. We spent only two nights in Sydney and made a point to stay at a hotel within walking distance of the Sydney Opera House. There were a number of things that pleasantly surprised us; the Opera House was beyond beautiful and more impressive in person than you can imagine from just seeing pictures. The setting on the water is spectacular so that changes in weather tends to give the Opera House different looks. The best part is viewing the Opera House at night when it is lit up! The bars, restaurants, and vibrant night life in the Circular Quay add to the aura of the Opera House. The restaurants are extremely expensive, but I would still recommend that you splurge and choose one with a view of the Opera House."
The criteria specified a large hall seating 3,000 and a small hall for 1,200 people, each to be designed for different uses, including full-scale operas, orchestral and choral concerts, mass meetings, lectures, ballet performances and other presentations. The winner, announced in 1957, was Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. According to legend the Utzon design was rescued from a final cut of 30 "rejects" by the noted Finnish architect Eero Saarinen. The prize was £5,000. Utzon visited Sydney in 1957 to help supervise the project. His office moved to Sydney in February 1963.

Rev: "Lots to see and do in and around the building. The bars along the harbour always seem to have lots of people and the atmosphere is one of fun. Enjoy a drink with friends and take in the scenery and the energy of the people."
The Fort Macquarie Tram Depot, occupying the site at the time of these plans, was demolished in 1958 and construction began in March 1959. It was built in three stages: stage I (1959–1963) consisted of building the upper podium; stage II (1963–1967) the construction of the outer shells; stage III (1967–1973) interior design and construction.

Stage I: Podium
Stage I commenced on 2 March 1959 with the construction firm Civil & Civic, monitored by the engineers Ove Arup and Partners. The government had pushed for work to begin early, fearing that funding, or public opinion, might turn against them. However, Utzon had still not completed the final designs. Major structural issues still remained unresolved. By 23 January 1961, work was running 47 weeks behind, mainly because of unexpected difficulties (inclement weather, unexpected difficulty diverting stormwater, construction beginning before proper construction drawings had been prepared, changes of original contract documents). Work on the podium was finally completed in February 1963. The forced early start led to significant later problems, not least of which was the fact that the podium columns were not strong enough to support the roof structure, and had to be re-built.
Stage II: Roof
The shells of the competition entry were originally of undefined geometry, but, early in the design process, the "shells" were perceived as a series of parabolas supported by precast concrete ribs. However, engineers Ove Arup and Partners were unable to find an acceptable solution to constructing them. The formwork for using in-situ concrete would have been prohibitively expensive, but, because there was no repetition in any of the roof forms, the construction of precast concrete for each individual section would possibly have been even more expensive. The shells were constructed by Hornibrook Group Pty Ltd, who were also responsible for construction in Stage III. Hornibrook manufactured the 2400 precast ribs and 4000 roof panels in an on-site factory and also developed the construction processes. The achievement of this solution avoided the need for expensive form work construction by allowing the use of precast units.

Rev: "Very informative. Our guide provided all kinds of information about the building, its history and how it is being used today. After attending a concert the day before it was great to visit the Opera House and learn more about this iconic building."

Stage III: Interiors
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 Robert Askin government declared the project under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Public Works. This ultimately led to Utzon's resignation in 1966. The cost of the project so far, even in October 1966, was still only $22.9 million, less than a quarter of the final $102 million cost. However, the projected costs for the design were at this stage much more significant.

The second stage of construction was progressing toward completion when Utzon resigned. 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.


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