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2006 Media Releases - Corporate - Utzon describes his joy at World Heritage nomination

Issued Monday, 16 January 2006


Architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon, described the news that the building is being nominated for World Heritage listing as ‘remarkable, fantastic’.

The nomination, prepared by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments, cites Sydney Opera House as a “masterpiece of human creative genius and a masterful architectural and engineering achievement.”

“Thank you very much from my heart,” Utzon said today from Denmark.

“As the architect of the building, I have been overwhelmed by people who have expressed that they like it very much and this is what counts for an architect of course and for all the other good people who have participated (in its creation).

“The nomination is reflecting very much what we could do at that time, structurally and in craftsmanship.

“So the whole group of people - the many many workmen, engineers and others - share the same joy as I do - that the thing we have done for Sydney, for the people of Sydney, has resulted in a great success.”

Utzon has said previously, “It became such a remarkable building because we never gave in until we had found the best solution for everything.”

Today he reflected on the genesis of the building.

“Mr Cahill, the Premier, wanted the building and got it started,” Utzon said.

“He said in our first meeting that the reason he wanted this building for music, drama and dance, was because a big portion of the citizens in Sydney and NSW felt they did not have the same facilities as many many big towns in the world, particularly in Europe and America.

“Mr Cahill said he couldn’t live with this.

“Then the site, instead of in the middle of the city, was ingeniously decided and found, so that suddenly the harbour was the attraction in Sydney.

“And the building was to become a sculpture – a sculpture is a thing that you see from all different angles - and this was my inspiration.”

Utzon was re-engaged in 1999 to prepare a series of design principles to guide the future development of the building. These now form an integral part of the heritage framework which underpins the World Heritage nomination.

In 2004, his new design for the Reception Hall was completed and the room was re-named the Utzon Room in his honour. His latest project, the Colonnade, is nearing completion.

The Opera House Design Competition closed in December 1956. This year celebrates 50 years since Jørn Utzon developed his original designs and ideas for Sydney Opera House. He was announced as the winner on January 29, 1957.

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