Beauty and the Beast


Sydney Opera House – original model

Photo Journal: Long-Lost Model of Sydney Opera House Found and Rebuilt

It was like a crystal palace … and it took on that sort of legend. A long-lost acrylic architectural model of the Sydney Opera House has been found and reconstructed, after languishing in storage crates for three decades. The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald reported on the model’s re-assembly earlier this month.

The world-famous icon was designed by Danish architect J�rn Utzon in the late 1950s. Construction began in 1959 and was completed in 1973, though Utzon resigned in 1966 after clashing with government officials over the cost and feasibility of the project.

Following Utzon’s departure, model builder Bill Lambert (who died in 1988) was commissioned by the New South Wales state Department of Public Works to build a three-dimensional model of the building based on approximately 8,000 detailed architectural drawings.

Lambert began work on a detailed model that year (1966), as a way of testing how heating, cooling and ventilation would work in the days before computer modeling and graphics were available to do the job. According to the Herald, it took Lambert seven years to build his model, which is 4.5 meters long, three meters wide and 1.8 meters high. The material used was Perspex, a semi-transparent acrylic that can be shaped when heated.

Just as the unique sail-shaped roofs of the Sydney Opera House challenged the builders and engineers, reproducing their design caused Lambert problems. The scale roof took two years to build, according to The Australian. It was only completed after Lambert discovered how to use several ovens to mold Perspex, then newly-developed, into the necessary shapes.

The model was sent to the 1974 Washington World Expo and had not been seen since — until 2002, when the NSW Dept. of Public Works came across the model in storage crates, which were turned over to the Sydney Opera House Trust.

Lambert’s masterwork had been disassembled into 1,600 pieces (out of a total of 2,500), but there was no ‘how-to’ assembly plan stored with them. The SOH Trust was faced with what The Australian called “the ultimate IKEA nightmare.”

A local firm called Porter Models painstakingly figured out how to repair and rebuild the model, assembling it more or less like a jigsaw puzzle — a task that took 2,000 hours over three months. Now, according to a spokesperson for the Sydney Opera House Trust, the model, once disassembled, can be put back together in about two days.

Sydney – architecture walks


The Sydney Architecture Walks {SAW} explore ideas through architecture, offering an interface between in-depth architectural knowledge and the wider design-conscious community. Each route is driven by certain themes and ideas and attempts to decode the city whilst stimulating new ways of thinking about and seeing Sydney.

SAW 1 – Sydney
Moving from the broad to the particular, the historic to the contemporary, SAW1 conjures a heady urban narrative revealing the social, cultural and topographic patterns and forces which have shaped Sydney. We will concentrate on two contemporary iconic structures; Aurora Place and Governor Phillip and Macquarie Towers, and the work of three architects; Renzo Piano, Richard Johnson & Jørn Utzon.
Renzo Piano is a virtuoso in the world of architecture and someone deeply imbued with a craftsman’s sense of materials. The Aurora Place office and apartment buildings are his first Australian and his first high-rise structures.
Our study of these remarkable buildings works on many levels. We will explain Piano’s environmental and social agenda, the irony of using a suburban–inspired material palette in the most corporate of environments, and the ways in which his apartment building does at a large scale what Aussie icon Glenn Murcutt does at a small scale in terms of specific environmental response. You will also discover the many subtle and intriguing ways in which Piano establishes a dialogue with the grand old lady down the road; his soaring ghostly–white facades playing mainsail to Utzon’s billowing spinnakers.

The black-suited Melbourne firm Denton Corker Marshall’s tall, dark and handsome Governor Phillip Tower + Museum of Sydney will be explored, the ideas and concepts behind the buildings discussed. The building was designed by Richard Johnson who with Utzon and his architect son Jan, is slowly realising modifications to the Opera House interior [see SAW2].
> Led by Eoghan
> when > Every Wednesday at 10.30 am. See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related articles
>Renzo Piano
SAW 2 – Utzon
Both an in-depth and textured portrait of enigmatic Danish architect Jørn Utzon, as well as the story of the 20th Centuries greatest architectural project, SAW2 draws the listener into the amazing visionary world of the architect of the Sydney Opera House.
His work was beautiful yet transcended the purely aesthetic. He worked hard yet projected the image of a balanced life. He benefited from ancient precedents whilst formulating innovation, proclaimed himself a ‘builder’ more than an architect, and prior to his ground breaking competition victory in 1957, he had only ever built a few small houses.
Discussing the sources of the young architect’s deepest inspiration, his working methods and influences, we chart the development of Utzon’s ideas and their realisation in the platform, concrete shells and ceramic skin of his Sydney Opera House. You will discover the influence of towering 20thC figures like LeCorbusier, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe and even Picasso on Utzon’s ideas, his strong connection to the brilliant & enigmatic Antonio Gaudi, as well as the ways in which his work was at once utterly contemporary yet drew many of its ideas from the architecture of the ancients.
Booted out in 1966 by the irrascible Askin government, Utzon considered the six years he spent developing the interiors of the House, none of which were realised, the most productive of his career. Using discarded drawings and models, the unrealised acoustic shells and Utzon’s hanging curtains of bronze & glass will be revealed, and you can judge for yourself how much Sydney lost when he was forced to leave the building half-finished. Malice in blunderland* indeed!
SAW2 finishes with the new Utzon interiors, some of which are complete and others still on the drawing board.
* A bitter pun summarising the situation surrounding Utzon’s forced resignation | Jørn Utzon
> Led by Eoghan
> when > Every Saturday at 10.30 am. See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related sites Related articles
>Utzon Associates
>Unfinished Business
>Sydney Opera House >Encore Maestro
>Wolanski Foundation >Return of the Master Builder
>2003 Pritzver Prize Laureate >Utzon remasters his vision
>Kingo Houses >Utzon Breaks his Silence
>Utzon Sketches >Utzon gives Opera House…
>Max Dupain photographs  
SAW 3 – Harbourings
Join us on this stroll around Sydney’s spectacular harbour edge, from Circular Quay, through the city’s great depository of memory, The Rocks, up Observatory Hill and on to Walsh Bay. The route is diverse, spectacular and full of surprising recent projects as well as gritty historical reminders of the cities industrial/maritime past.
Getting beyond the post–card view of the city and its two shimmering icons, SAW 3 reveals the city at her rawest and most spectacular, her most self–conscious and most corrupt. Beginning with Circular Quay, where the powerful forces of commerce are held back from the harbour by that bland concrete motorway – the Cahill Expressway – we will discuss Utzon’s vision for the Quay, controversial plans for the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Toaster and explore the beautiful ferry terminal conversion by Queensland duo Lindsay + Kerry Clare. The radical Sirius Apartment building by Tao Gofers and Lippmann Associates KGV Sports Hall will also be discussed.

SAW 3 focuses on the breathtaking early 20th Century Walsh Bay Finger Wharves, a family of timber wharves and shore sheds that extend out into Sydney’s harbour. They are the largest timber structures in the world, romantic symbols of Sydney’s maritime history and the first structures in Australia to be nominated as a World Heritage Site! Over the last few years the wharves and shore sheds have been reworked into a modern residential + cultural precinct by Bates Smart and HPA with the help of renowned French architect Phillipe Robert. We will move through this incredible development and discuss the ideas and issues behind their re–development.

SAW3 concludes at Walsh Bay so please allow a 10–15 minute walk back to Circular Quay.
> Led by Eoghan
> when > See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
SAW 4 Public: Art, Place & Landscape *

SAW4 examines the city through its evolving attitude to the design of it’s public domain, and the elements that they contain; art, architecture and landscape.

For the Eora people, the trees were an embracing home. For Europeans these same trees were full of mystery, shadows and darkness. Starting in the modern forest of concrete, skyscrapers and hard paved surfaces at Edge of Trees by Janet Laurence and Fiona Foley, we walk outwards to the green harbour wedge, through the Domain to the waters edge of Woolloomooloo Bay. The translucent Veil of Trees by Janet Laurence and Jisuk Han is the bookend.
We will map a living history on contemporary architectural, sculptural and urban projects, considering the role of art, architecture and design in the creation of some of Sydney’s best loved and most used public spaces. Particular attention will be paid to projects by Lin Utzon, Brett Whiteley, Janet Laurence, Hossein Valamanesh, Lippmann Associates, Simeon Nelson, City Projects, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer, Harry Seidler, Tom Bass & Hassell Architects. We will also look at the new Art Gallery of NSW Asian Galleries extension by Johnson Pilton Walker.

> bring your swimmers > SAW 4 concludes at the Andrew ‘Boy’ Charlton Pool on Mrs Macquaries Road, the Domain. Please allow 20 mins return walk to either St James, Martin Place or Circular Quay train stations. Pool entry is $5 for adults, and the pool is open until 8pm (October–April). Changerooms and lockers available. The 440 Sydney Buses route to Rozelle via the QVB departs from the front of the pool. Download bus timetable here.

> Led by Simeon
> when * This walk runs infrequently and on request.
See dates for our full timetable + details. To download upcoming dates as a pdf click here. To download SAW routes map click here
Related sites  
> Dom Baths and ABC Pool  
> Sydney Sculpture Walk  

The needle and the damage done – Sydney

vinyl cd

The Needle and the Damage Done


With albums from John Laws, Torvill & Dean, Bernard King, some misguided AFL footy players, Christians, racists and Christian racists, there’s some really bad music out there. DJ & comic Fiona Scott-Norman goes on a romp through the top ten most mesmerisingly bad albums ever recorded.

Could be great, could be like every wedding disco I’ve ever been to. 

The Studio at the Opera House
05 December – 08 December 2007