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Issued Wednesday, 11 August 1999

UTZON APPOINTMENT: ‘REUNITES THE MAN AND HIS MASTERPIECE’ – TRUST CHAIRMAN

The appointment of Jørn Utzon as a design consultant to the Sydney Opera House ‘reunites the man and his masterpiece’, the Trust Chairman, Joseph Skrzynski, said today.

Mr. Skrzynski said the Trust had made the appointment to gain the Danish architect’s unique insight into the process of addressing the future design needs of the building.

"This appointment ensures that any future changes to the Sydney Opera House or its site will be consistent with Utzon’s design principles," he said.

Mr. Skrzynski was speaking at the announcement of a formal agreement between Jørn Utzon and the Sydney Opera House Trust on the terms of the design brief.

He said Jørn Utzon will work on the brief in association with Richard Johnson, of the architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall, who was appointed last year to advise the Sydney Opera House Trust on any future development works affecting the building and its site.

"The Statement of Design Principles will fully document the design concept and details for the Sydney Opera House, and will be published as a permanent reference for the long-term conservation and management of the building," he said.

"It will be a prime reference document for any proposal for change affecting the building and its site."

Mr. Skrzynski said Jørn Utzon would work on the brief with his son and partner, Jan Utzon, who is based in Denmark. The assignment is expected to be completed within six months.

"Jørn Utzon has advised the Trust he will not be able to visit Australia, but that Jan Utzon would be responsible for liaison with him and act as his local contact on the assignment," Mr. Skrzynski said.

"His appointment is a critical step towards the development of a Strategic Plan for the future of the Sydney Opera House, which is being prepared by Richard Johnson.

"The Statement of Design Principles will enable Richard Johnson and his design team to address the future needs of the Sydney opera House in a way that reflects the integrity of Jørn Utzon’s vision for the building."

Mr Skrzynski said the design team would consult relevant stakeholders to identify issues likely to affect the Opera House in the future.

"The stakeholders include performers, major presenters, audiences, staff, the architectural community, heritage groups, tourists, visitors, the Government agencies and many more," he said.

"All of these interests will be given the opportunity to make an input into the process."

Mr. Skrzynski said the design team would have the opportunity to draw on all the advances in building technology that have occurred during the last 25 years.

"They have already suggested it would be unrealistic and impractical to resurrect the original designs for the interiors of the building, which were devised within the technical limits of the 1960s," he said.

Mr Skrzynski said Jørn Utzon had agreed to review and provide advice on options to be considered during the preparation of the Strategic Plan for the Sydney Opera House and its site.


THE STRATEGIC PLANNING PROCESS
Objectives
The process of establishing a Statement of Design Principles and preparing a Strategic Plan for the future of the Sydney Opera House and its site is aimed at achieving two significant long-term objectives.

+ To safeguard the Sydney Opera House and its site for the benefit of future generations.

+ To address practical limitations affecting the function of the building as a performing arts centre. These issues include acoustics in the performing spaces, lighting, visitor amenities and the need to improve access to the building for all visitors, in particular those who are disabled.

Strategic Planning Process

The process of developing a Strategic Plan for the building commenced last year with the appointment of Richard Johnson, of the architectural firm Denton Corker Marshall, to advise the Sydney Opera House Trust on any future development works affecting the building and its site.

Since being appointed the firm has conducted a review of the previous Masterplan for the building, researched the extensive archive of material to trace the development of the Sydney Opera House up to the present, and coordinated the approach to Jørn Utzon, inviting him to act as a design consultant to the Trust.

The Strategic planning process will now proceed as follows:

Stage 1 - Jørn Utzon and his son and partner, Jan Utzon, will prepare the Statement of Design Principles. The Statement will document both the broad design concept and the detailed aspects of the design in all the critical areas. It will be published as a prime reference for the long-term conservation and management of the Sydney Opera House. It will also be a prime reference document for any proposal for change affecting the building or its site. This first stage is expected to be completed within six months.

Stage 2 - Richard Johnson of Denton Corker Marshall will be responsible for preparing the Strategic Plan for the Sydney Opera House and its site. In undertaking the brief Richard Johnson is required to have regard to:

+ The need for any future works at the building or its site to reflect the Statement of Design Principles and vision of Jørn Utzon.

+ The need to maintain the integrity of the Sydney Opera House as a most significant national and international landmark.

+ The need to respect and safeguard the heritage significance of the Sydney Opera House.

+ The need to consult with all relevant stakeholders, including the major presenters, performers, heritage groups, audiences, tourists, visitors and staff. This consultation program is aimed at identifying the needs, issues of concern and suggestions of stakeholders.

Jørn Utzon has agreed to review and provide advice on options to be considered during the preparation of the Strategic Plan. This will enable the Sydney Opera House Trust and Richard Johnson to gain his unique insight into how to address the future design needs of the building. This second stage is expected to be completed within six months from the completion of the Statement of Design Principles.


A MESSAGE FROM JØRN UTZON REGARDING HIS APPOINTMENT AS DESIGN CONSULTANT TO WORK ON THE STATEMENT OF DESIGN PRINCIPLES FOR THE SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE.

I would like to convey to you my thoughts about being invited to prepare a Statement of Design Principles for the Sydney Opera House.

It is a wonderful opportunity to play a further role in the life of this building, which has been an inseparable part of my life.

I will be working on the assignment with my son and partner, Jan Utzon.

Unfortunately, I will not be able to visit Australia, but Jan will act as my contact, and convey my ideas to the Sydney Opera House and its architect, Richard Johnson, of Denton Corker Marshall.

Richard Johnson and I have had the opportunity to talk about the things that may need to be done to make sure the building continues to perform its role, as a world class performing arts centre. And, in my belief, this is the right time to be doing this.

The Sydney Opera House has completed its first 25 years very successfully. The task now is to make sure it can meet all the demands that are made on it for the next 25 years, and beyond.

Some people may have the idea that I am to redesign and replace the interiors of the building. But that is not the case. My job is to articulate the overall vision and detailed design principles for the site, and for the form of the building and its interior.

This Statement will then be used as a permanent reference for the long-term conservation and management of the House and for any redevelopment of interiors as and when that becomes necessary.

To me, that demonstrates very clearly, the commitment of the Sydney Opera House Trust, and the NSW State Government, to the importance of safeguarding this building for the benefit of generations to come.

It is right that we should be looking forward to the future of the Sydney Opera House, and not back to the past. For this reason, I believe Richard Johnson and future architects should have the freedom to use up-to-date technology to find solutions to the problems of today and tomorrow.

I like to think the Sydney Opera House is like a musical instrument, and like any fine instrument, it needs a little maintenance and fine tuning, from time to time, if it is to keep on performing at the highest level.

There will be things that will need to be done to make sure it continues to meet the needs of the audiences, the performers and the many people who come each year to see and experience this unique building.

This is a very exciting assignment for me and my son, Jan, and we look forward to working on it with great enthusiasm.

 

OWN OUR HOUSE


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Presenter

Sydney Opera House

Dates

Ongoing

Venue

Various Venues

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The King and I


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Presenter

Opera Australia

Dates

7 Sep - 21 Oct

Venue

Joan Sutherland Theatre

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