Sydney Opera House

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.

The Brown Book

Brown book, 1955Commonly 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.

Competition drawings by Jørn Utzon

Perspective from staircase between the two halls looking towards the north. NRS 12825 [Item SZ112_01]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.

The Red Book

Red book, 1958This 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 Gold Book

Gold book, 1959

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.

The Yellow Book

Yellow book, 1962 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.

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