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2006 Media Releases - Corporate - Sydney Opera House celebrates World Heritage nomination

Issued Monday, 16 January 2006


Sydney Opera House Trust, management and staff today celebrated the announcement that Australia will seek a World Heritage listing for the building.

The decision to nominate was also strongly supported by the Sydney Opera House Conservation Council.

The NSW and Commonwealth Governments have prepared a submission which will be considered by UNESCO, with a decision due by mid-2007. The nomination cites Sydney Opera House as work of ‘human creative genius and a masterful architectural and engineering achievement’.

The Chair of the Sydney Opera House Trust, Kim Williams, said the nomination highlighted the creative genius of those involved in its design and development, especially the original (and current) architect, Jørn Utzon.

“Sydney Opera House is an architectural feat of international renown, whose beauty is timeless. Standing as the single greatest building of the 20th century, it evokes great pride in Australians and inspires and delights people around the world,” Mr Williams said.

Referring to Jørn Utzon’s re-engagement as architect in 2002, Mr Williams commented, “We are blessed. Almost 50 years after he won the competition to design the building, he is taking the Opera House into the next phase of its life.”

Utzon has said of Sydney Opera House, “Sometimes in architecture it happens that a daring step into the unknown gives us a great gift for the future… The Australian spirit is actually mirrored in their creation of the Sydney Opera House: this could not have taken place anywhere else in the world.”

The building was opened in October 1973 and listed on the State Heritage Register in 2003 and on the National Heritage List in 2005.

Dennis Watkins, Chair of the Sydney Opera House Conservation Council said, “Utzon gave us a place to commune with the imagination. Nominating Sydney Opera House for World Heritage Listing is a way of continuing to share his timeless creation with people everywhere, now and in the future.

“The Sydney Opera House Conservation Management Plan that underpins the World Heritage nomination takes the clear view that significant heritage values do not have to mean that nothing changes.

“The Plan enshrines the House as a living contemporary performing arts centre now and in the years to come, within a strict heritage framework.

“The genius of the architecture of Sydney Opera House is that this is possible.”

In 2003 Jørn Utzon was awarded the Pritzker Prize, the most respected international award for architects. In making their award, the jury described Sydney Opera House as ‘a masterpiece’.

Utzon recently wrote to the Trust, “The Sydney Opera House is so close to my heart and is such a great part of my life… I am very conscious of the great responsibility I have in my role as architect for the Sydney Opera House and I find it very rewarding to be working on this great project.”

The Chief Executive, Dr Norman Gillespie said everyone associated with the House took seriously their responsibilities as custodians.

“We have worked closely with both governments to ensure the appropriate management frameworks are in place to ensure the World Heritage values of Sydney Opera House are secure,” Dr Gillespie said.

The nomination was prepared by the NSW Heritage Office, the NSW Ministry for the Arts, the NSW Cabinet Office and Sydney Opera House in conjunction with the Federal Department of Heritage and Environment.

It will be lodged with UNESCO next month.

Sydney Opera House is now one of the busiest performing arts centres and tourist destinations in the world, staging more than 2200 performances and events each year and hosting more than four million visitors.


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