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The sails of the Opera House are covered in scaffold. They sky is cloudy and blue.

The Opera House Would Not Be Built Today

5 Oct 2023

A debate on courage, creativity and our cultural imagination

In the Playhouse

Talks and Ideas


With Osman Faruqi, Wendy Harmer, Rebecca Huntley, Benjamin Law, Helen Pitt, and Yumi Stynes, hosted by Julia Zemiro 

Would we build the Sydney Opera House today?  It's an iconic building that inspires imagination and sparks conversations, but do we still have what it takes to bring such a bold vision to fruition?

The proposition: There’s no way Sydney could build the Opera House today

Fifty years ago, Sydney Opera House opened its doors. It’s not an exaggeration to say this icon of daring modernism launched Sydney and Australia into a new era, with a bolder sense of itself as a place of creativity and imaginative thinking. It showed ourselves and the world the impact a building could have on a people, and on a place. And it became a symbolic marker for all Australians, a standard to meet.

Would such a building ever be built today? The 70s and the decades before were a different time, after all. Would we take the risk? Would we greenlight a project that set for ourselves such a design and engineering challenge? Would our contemporary political imagination ever conceive of a project with this kind of creative ambition and requiring this kind of largesse? Join us for an informative, fun (possibly even raucous), old-school debate. It’s a chance to reflect and consider the kind of impact a building can have and to ask ourselves if we still have what it takes to bring such a daring vision to fruition. Oxford debate rules (loosely) apply.

Sydney Opera House presents



Arguing for: The Opera House Would Not Be Built Today

Arguing for: The Opera House Would Be Built Today

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