State Library of NSW

Joern Utzon’s Opera House


Sketch in pencil and crayon, 1962

Eighth Wonder

Joern Utzon’s Opera HouseClive James called it a typewriter full of oyster shells and it has also been referred to as nuns in a scrum. This delicate, almost ethereal, drawing of the shells of the Sydney Opera House is the preliminary idea for a building which would become the symbol of Australia around the world.

Utzon won the international design competition for the Sydney Opera House in January 1957 from a field of 233. Dogged by controversies—the forced departure of the architect in 1966, cost and completion date overruns—the Sydney Opera House was eventually opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 1973.

When Utzon departed Australia—never to return —he left in Sydney all his design and working drawings for the Opera House. These were transferred to the Library in 1972.
Display item Joern Utzon’s Opera House


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