21012 Sydney Opera House™

  • Product no longer in production


  • Architect: Jørn Utzon
  • Construction Type: Concrete frame & precast concrete ribbed roof with ceramic tiles and reconstituted granite cladding to the base
  • Footprint: 1.8 hectares (4.5 acres)
  • Height: 67 m (220 ft.)
  • Location: Bennelong Point, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • Materials: Concrete, ceramic, granite, bronze and glass
  • Style: Expressionist
  • Year: From 1959 to 1973


Sydney Opera House™ is a masterpiece of late modern architecture and an iconic building of the 20th century. It is admired internationally and proudly treasured by the people of Australia. It was created by a young Danish architect, Jørn Utzon (1918-2008), who understood the potential provided by the site against the stunning backdrop of Sydney Harbour.

The building’s architectural form comprises three groups of interlocking vaulted ‘shells’ that appear like billowing sails filled by the sea winds. The buildings are set upon a vast terraced podium and surrounded by flat broadwalks that function as pedestrian promenades.

The scale of construction of Sydney Opera House was enormous. Over 30 000 cubic metres of rock and soil had to be removed from the site and the construction of the roof brought together some of the world’s best engineers and craftsmen for one of the most difficult engineering tasks ever attempted.

Since its opening in 1973 over 45 million people have attended more than 100 000 performances, and it is estimated that well over 100 million people have visited the site.


Jørn Utzon was born on April 9, 1918 in Copenhagen, Denmark, and graduated as an architect in 1942 from the Copenhagen Royal Academy of Arts. After working in Sweden and Finland, Utzon received a grant that enabled him to travel extensively in USA. It was here that he came into contact with some of the most influential architects of his day, including van der Rohe and Ray and Charles Eames.

In 1956, Utzon submitted his vision for Sydney Opera House to the New South Wales Government, and was as surprised as anyone when he actually won the competition. The complicated nature of the construction led to large delays and cost overruns, and resulted in Utzon leaving the project before it was completed.

In 1999 Utzon agreed to develop a set of Design Principles that would act as a guide for all future changes to the building. Sydney Opera House was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 2007: The expert evaluation report stating: “...it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”


Photo credits: SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE™
Michael Moy
State Records NSW
Max Dupain and Associates
Ralph Alfonso