The Accessibility and Western Foyers project, funded by a $38m grant by the NSW Government and completed on time and on budget, is the largest building project completed at Sydney Opera House since Sydney Opera House re-engaged Jørn Utzon in 1999.
Designed by architect Jørn Utzon and his son, Jan Utzon, in collaboration with Richard Johnson of Johnson Pilton Walker, the project has transformed the Western Foyers into a stylish and functional space providing patrons with additional amenities including new ticketing, toilet and cloaking facilities. Importantly, new escalators and a public lift have vastly improved independent access for less mobile visitors, people with a disability and families with prams.
One of Australia’s most decorated athletes, Louise Sauvage OAM, has accepted the role of Accessibility Ambassador for a two year term. As the inaugural Accessibility Ambassador, Louise will provide advice on the implementation of Sydney Opera House’s Access Strategic Plan with a view to further improving access for people with disabilities.
The Accessibility and Western Foyers improvements include:
- The first ever public lift and indoor escalators at Sydney Opera House. The lift connects the lower concourse to the vehicle concourse and the main box office level. Patrons can enter the lift via an underground corridor near the Sydney Opera House shop on the lower level and also at a new corridor on the ground level (at the top of the existing escalators), enabling them to travel undercover to the Western Foyers for the first time.
- One new escalator connecting the main box office level to the Joan Sutherland Theatre South Foyer with a second connecting the box office to the Concert Hall South Foyer.
- The installation of two new Platform Stairlifts on entry into the Playhouse theatre, providing access to this theatre from the foyer for the first time. The Stairlifts feature fold-out seats allowing them to be used by both patrons who use wheelchairs and those who are less mobile. Four new accessible wheelchair seating positions have been installed with improved sightlines at the mid-theatre entry level.
- Two new accessible toilet facilities and a significant increase in the capacity of the female toilets.
The creation of a single united Western Foyer space that blends with the external Colonnade. The new foyer includes increased food and beverage service capacity and combined box office and cloaking accessible service counters.