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Building Program - Utzon Room

Utzon Room Large Image

The first venue at Sydney Opera House designed by Jørn Utzon, was officially opened on September 16, 2004 by the New South Wales Premier, Hon. Bob Carr, and re-named the Utzon Room in honour of the great architect.

Utzon designed a stunning new interior for the former Reception Hall with his signature features of natural timbers and finishes, and a 14-metre brightly coloured tapestry. The room has a magnificent easterly view of Sydney Harbour.

The room is also the only authentic Utzon interior within Sydney Opera House. Unlike other spaces which were structurally altered after Jørn Utzon left the project in 1966, the Reception Hall had only superficial modifications.

Mr Carr said it was the only venue that was still intact from Utzon's original construction plans, and so represents the only true Utzon interior.

''Utzon has never sought honours or recognition, but we know he had a special fondness for this room,'' he said.

''By naming it for him, we acknowledge that his extraordinary building has given Sydney and Australia a focus of identity, pride and celebration - way beyond what was ever imagined by Labor Premier Joe Cahill back in 1957.''

From Denmark, Jørn Utzon said: ''It (the naming) gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don't think you can give me more joy as the Architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have got.''

The refurbishment cost $4.6 million. This included construction, installation of an accessible lift, creation of the tapestry, restoration of the beams, project management and design costs.

The work involved removing the green carpet, dance floor and discoloured timber fixtures and fittings. Hundreds of hours of painstaking work on the concrete ceiling beams followed, then services and technical facilities were installed and a new parquetry floor of Tasmanian Blue Gum was laid.

Finally, the 14 metre long, floor-to-ceiling, woollen tapestry, designed by Jørn Utzon was installed. The design was inspired by CPE Bach's Hamburg Symphonies and Raphael's painting, ''Procession to Calvary''.

The tapestry was Utzon's first decorative artwork and it represents a celebration of art itself - an artwork inspired by two great artists, Bach and Raphael, within a building which is itself an artwork, which presents and promotes the best of performing arts.

The tapestry was woven over eight months by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, supervised by Utzon's daughter and well-known artist, Lin.

The Utzon Room is regularly used for intimate musical performances, functions and Sydney Opera House's children's programs.

Project information

Design practice: Utzon architects, Johnson Pilton Walker (architects in collaboration)

Project completion date: September, 2004

Project Team
Client Representative: Sydney Opera House Building Development Group
Project Manager: CGP Management Pty Ltd

Time Schedule
Design and documentation: 9 months
Construction: 9 months

Project Cost: $4.6m including restoration work tapestry and wheelchair lift

Builder: Hansen Yuncken Pty Ltd and Lucas Stuart (Specialist restoration of concrete beams and walls)

Lighting: JPW and Steensen Varming

Heritage Impact Statement:
James Semple Kerr
Mechanical and electrical services: Steensen Varming Pty Ltd
Fire and hydraulics services: Warren Smith & Partners
Fire engineering: Arup Fire
Acoustic engineering: Arup Acoustic
Structural engineering: Arup Structural and BCA Advance Building Approvals
Vertical transportation: Norman Disney Young
Quantity surveyor: Rider Hunt Sydney Pty Ltd

Materials, finishes, products

Walls and ceilings
Existing concrete - restored
Southern Tasmanian Blue Gum - joinery panels (soap wash finish)

Windows and window treatments
Existing bronze window frames

Southern Tasmanian Blue Gum (Soap Wash Finish) - Joinery
Existing bronze - restored
Sydney Opera House White Birch veneer doors (to match existing)

Southern Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus Globulus) with soap wash finish
Bronze floor boxes for access to services

Erco track with Erco Domotec spot (77246.00)
Erco Track with Erco Unipar wall washer (77553.00)
Custom made light fitting designed by JPW - manufactured by Pierlite

Nanna Ditzel Trinidad chair - Fredericia Furniture

Hand basin spout: Omvivo Ulisse wall outlet
Corian wash basin
Soap dispenser: Omvivo


Southern Tasmanian Blue Gum (Eucalyptus Globulus) with soap wash finish
Bronze floor boxes for access to services

Jørn Utzon Homage to C.P. E. Bach wool and cotton tapestry woven by Victorian Tapestry Workshop, July 2004
Charles Heath Industries: Suspended ceiling units
Creative Metal Fabrications: Bronze work
H Dallas Industries Pty Ltd: Joinery, floor and mobile wall unit

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