Sails, Octopuses, and Telescopic Cranes

Building the Sydney Opera House

Discover the Sydney Opera House as a triumph of pure (technical) imagination that seamlessly bridges architectural design and the practicalities of construction. Through a talk, panel discussion and virtual reality experience, we’ll explore shop drawings, concrete castings, formworks, telescopic arches and moving cranes. You’ll also have an opportunity to view the exhibition The People’s House: Sydney Opera House at 50.

Even after 50 years, the World Heritage–listed Sydney Opera House is renowned for its ‘unparalleled and seminal design and construction’, and the building remains one of the most ingenious and fascinating, yet obscure, architectural works of the 20th century.

Thanks to recently discovered documents and 5,000 shop drawings produced by Hornibrook – the Australian contractor responsible for realising the Opera House’s iconic sails – held in the collections of Museums of History NSW, it’s now possible to illuminate the exact procedures and awe-inspiring methods employed in the prodigious construction of the sails, built 1963–67.

This event has emerged from a multi-year research project led by Paolo Stracchi at the University of Sydney, Luciano Cardellicchio at the University of New South Wales, and Paolo Tombesi at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. Through new three-dimensional animations and virtual reality simulations, you’ll be transported back to the Sydney Opera House construction site. Here, architects, engineers, builders and carpenters from all around the world joined forces to transform Jørn Utzon’s vision into a built masterpiece.

Sydney Opera House sails with a crane in front and the Sydney Open graphic over the top

Sydney Open Series

A continuation of the Sydney Open annual program throughout the calendar year and will present talks, workshops, and tours

Sydney Opera House Sustainability Tour
Past event

Sydney Opera House Sustainability Tour

Join us on this special sustainability tour and discover what makes the Sydney Opera House a 6-star Green Star–rated building

Sydney Opera House Heritage Tour, Hero Image, 2023
Past event

Sydney Opera House Heritage Tour

Join a tour of the Sydney Opera House with architect and author Alan Croker

Seidler Office and Seidler Penthouse, 2 Glen St, Misons Point, Sydney Open 2022
Past event

Seidler Office & Penthouse tour

Harry Seidler's award winning office building and later adjoining penthouse