I want to tell you a story. It is the story of one of the most famous
buildings in the world, a silhouette that has no imitations or the
chance of being confused, one of the most successful architectural
ideas of the last fifty years, which does not fear aging or passing
moods, a project that will always remain a perfect evergreen.
we talk about the Sydney Opera House designed by Jørn Utzon. And
we do it because in the last month I travelled to a big part of
Australia and I finally managed to visit it in person. For me, a
student of architecture in the 1990s, the Sydney Opera House has always
been an imaginary landmark, like the Eiffel Tower, like the Chrysler
Building, like the Taj Mahal, a place where a lover of formal
architecture finds the closure of the circle of his desires. And I'm
sure everyone knows this architecture because they've seen it at least
once in a picture or in some videos, but I'm just as sure that few, me
first of all, really know its real shape and its complicated history.
I like the idea of sharing these fantastic discoveries that, if it were
possible, made me fall even more hopelessly in love with this place.
Let's start from the ABC: I had never noticed that the famous sails
that make up the roof of the theatre do not cover a single building,
but they cover three, very distinct from each other; there are in fact
the opera house, the concert hall and the restaurant, in three separate
buildings. And I never realized that the main sails go in one
direction, but that there are also small underlying sails that go
against the main ones, thus creating a truly fantastic volume game.
you know that the sails are not actually white? They are completely
covered with ceramic tiles of different colours and surfaces,
positioned in such a way as to reflect the light in many different
ways, passing from blinding white on sunny days to light brown and
opaque grey when the weather is not beautiful or even it’s raining.
And did you know that the theatre rises above a place, the Bennelong
point, where the Australian aborigines gathered to celebrate parties
with dance and music performances? Not surprisingly, the place was then
chosen to build a theatre that hosts more than 2,500 shows a year.
what's the name of the theatre restaurant where you can dine after your
favourite show (bringing a kidney to pay your bill)? Bennelong of course!
news that I want to tell you, but it is not the last of the things I
discovered, is that the relationship between Utzon and the management
office of the theatre was not simple at all. Consider that from the
competition won in 1957, the architect moved to Australia in 1962 to
follow the works personally and then, however, abandoned the building
site four years later to return to Europe. Main reason is the fact of
not being able to find a system to build the famous sails. The project
was then overtaken by the Australian architects Hall, Littlemore and
Todd and finally inaugurated in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth II. Not bad for
someone who also received the Pritzker Price (the Nobel of
architecture) for this project!
irony, none can deny the thrill of entering those rooms and looking up
open-mouthed, like children facing a natural wonder; and I, as a child
returned to himself in this occasion, I also enjoyed introducing one of my
little City Keys to his elder brother, a touching family meeting at New