One of the highlights of the State archives collection for the 20th Century is a highly significant set of documents relating to the iconic Sydney Opera House. They include the 1955 booklet setting out the conditions for the architectural competition, the original set of competition drawings submitted by Jørn Utzon, as well as a number of later, more detailed sketches, drawings and plans. These ‘founding documents’ for the Opera House are now available for the first time in digitised form.
Commonly known as the “Brown Book”, this is the 1955 booklet for the conditions and programme for the International Competition for a National Opera House at Bennelong Point, Sydney. The booklet includes: conditions of competition, B&W photos of the site, site and building requirements, schedule of dates and more.
These are the original competition drawings for which the assessors of the Committee awarded Jørn Utzon first prize of £5,000 on 29 January 1957. He was commissioned by the Government of New South Wales to do final drawings for the Opera House, and to supervise its construction.
This 1958 report (known also as the Red Book) was presented by Jørn Utzon to the Premier and the Opera House Committee in order to “give … a project which realizes in practical form the vision of the competition”. The report comprises: plans, sections, elevations, photographs of models of the Opera House; and reports by other consultants.
The printed booklet, commonly known as the “Gold Book”, was issued to accompany the “Ceremony to Commemorate the Commencement of the Sydney Opera House” on 2 March 1959. At this ceremony the Premier, the Hon. J.J. Cahill M.L.A., positioned a plaque indicating the point from which all measurements of the Sydney Opera House would be taken.
This 1962 report (commonly known as the Yellow Book) comprises plans submitted by Jørn Utzon and consultants. The plans include, in addition to plans of the minor and major halls, geometrical construction showing the shells of the major hall, details of precast lid, tiling on shells and development of shells.
- Archives In Brief 28 – A brief history of the Sydney Opera House
- Archives In Brief 30 – Records relating to the Sydney Opera House
- Report on the Structural Details of the proposed scheme for the minor hall auditorium ceiling by Ove Arup and Partners, Engineers (from NRS 12767 - Department of Public Works: Draft copies of the Sydney Opera House Estimate, July 1968, and related papers)