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Sydney Opera House Current Partner Case Study - Baulderstone

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Baulderstone (then the Hornibrook Group) constructed the roof shells and the interior structure and fitout of Sydney Opera House.

Construction of the shells was one of the most difficult engineering tasks ever to be attempted; "Beautiful design, but impossible to build" and "On the boundaries of what is technically possible" were two of the expert opinions following the announcement of the winning design. The revolutionary concept demanded equally revolutionary engineering and building techniques.

Grant Jackson, Construction Manager, who is currently overseeing some of our NSW/ACT Building projects, was Project Planner on Stage 3 of the Opera House from 1969-1973. Stage 3 was a case of total redesign and renovation of the interior, rather than a basic fitout.

Grant described the enormity of the task, "When you consider that the construction of internal areas, installation of services and finishes, and the fitting of precast cladding, glass and bronze walls all had to be completed in the last two to three years, it was no mean feat and a very busy period for all concerned".

Grant said "I consider myself privileged to have been associated with the construction of the Sydney Opera House and this extra recognition gives all who worked on it a great sense of achievement".

An internationally recognised symbol of Australia, the Sydney Opera House exemplifies the type of large, technically complex projects undertaken by the Baulderstone Group.

Architect Jørn Utzon's original design was so bold that the structure was deemed impossible to build. Utzon eventually altered his design, giving the roof vaults a defined spherical geometry. This enabled the structure to be built in precast elements, greatly reducing both time and cost.

When M.R. Hornibrook Pty Ltd (which merged with A.W Baulderstone in 1985) commenced the construction of the roof shells in 1963, the company inherited a completed podium structure that was specified before the shells were even designed. This meant Hornibrook's first task was to modify the podium to accommodate the final design for the more stable, heavier roof shells. From this beginning, the company's team had to develop the best methods to construct the unique shells.

The enormous challenges in construction demanded pioneering applications of many new materials as well as building and engineering practices.

Officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 20th October 1973, the Sydney Opera House has almost 1000 rooms including four main auditoriums, five rehearsal studios, four restaurants, dressing rooms, administrative offices, plant and machinery areas.

Baulderstone are proud to become the sponsor of House History.


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