The construction site of the Sydney Opera House photographed by Charles Eames

Jørn Utzon’s legendary landmark architecture in Australia turns 50: we celebrate it in the photos of its vaults under construction, published by Domus in 1970.

Everything about the Sydney Opera House has the hallmarks of the extraordinary, almost of the epic: the construction time, planned in 4 years and escalated to 14; the costs, growing from $7 million to $102 million along the construction time; the complexity of the process, along which the author of the 1956 competition-winning design, Danish architect Jørn Utzon, abandoned its realization; the complexity of the form, with its series of reinforced concrete shells, all sections of a sphere of the same radius, under which seven airliners can safely sit.

A symbol first openly opposed then, beginning with its inauguration 50 years ago, on October 20, 1973, in the presence of Queen Elizabeth, increasingly beloved by the public and the city itself, which now inextricably ties its identity and image to it in the world, the Sydney Opera House had been brought to completion by Australian architect Peter Hall after Utzon’s resignation. In September 1970 it was a key figure in modern architecture and design, Charles Eames, passing by Sydney, to visit the site with Hall and to takie some photographs of the vaults nearing completion. Domus published them on issue 490.

From Sidney

We all remember the controversy surrounding Jørn Utzon’s project for the Sydney Opera House.

Now the extraordinary construction of the ‘many sails’ is almost finished. It is now part of reality and the landscape of the Gulf of Sydney.

Charles Eames visited Sydney this summer on the final leg of his round-the-world trip and had the good fortune to be able to visit — with Peter Hall, the architect now in charge — the interior and exterior of these fantastic vaults and photograph them along with many beautiful drawings of the construction site.

Domus 490, September 1970

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