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  • an architectural tour de force!

SAW 2 – Utzon and the Sydney Opera House

The visionary world of Opera House architect Jørn Utzon.

Quick Details

  • Walking tours of Sydney led by practising architects.
  • Nominated as one of the world’s top five architecture tours by The Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Nominated as one of the world’s top ten architecture tours by The Guardian UK.
  • Winner of TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012-2023.

Duration: 3 hours

Early Bird
Both an in-depth and textured portrait of enigmatic Danish architect Jorn Utzon as well as the story of perhaps the 20th Centuries most ambitious architectural project, this tour will draw you in to the amazing visionary world of the architect of the Sydney Opera House.

His work was beautiful yet transcended the purely aesthetic. He worked hard yet projected the image of a balanced life. He proclaimed himself a builder more than an architect and prior to his ground-breaking competition entry of 1957 he had only a few small houses to his name.

Discussing the sources of the young architects deepest inspiration, his working methods and influences, we will chart the development of Utzon’s ideas and their materialisation in the platform, concrete shells and ceramic skin of Sydney Opera House. You will discover the influence of towering 20th Century figures like Le Corbusier, Alvar Aalto, Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright and even Picasso on Utzon’s thinking, his interest in the methods of Gaudi and you will discover the ways in which his work was at once contemporary whilst drawing its inspiration from the work of the ancients.

Utzon’s epic accomplishment is rivalled only by his tragic tale. Booted out mid-construction by the Askin Government in 1966, Utzon considered the six years he spent developing the interiors of the House – none of which were realised – the most productive of his career. Using discarded drawings, models and prototypes, Utzon’s design of the acoustic interiors, glass walls and furniture – much of it ready for construction before he left – will be discussed.

The tour finishes with the work Utzon realised at The House during the last years of his life, a decade-long collaboration between Jørn, his architect son Jan and Sydney architect Richard Johnson.

Please note that this tour focuses on the work of Utzon and his various consultant and manufacturer collaborations. The tour is primarily external and does not go into any of the performance spaces. Please go to the Sydney Opera House site for backstage tour and ticket options.

Meeting Location.

Botanic Gardens Gates on the eastern side of Sydney Opera House

What Else.

  • If you have a Gift Card, enter the code in the next window.
  • Please bring your ticket for scanning either printed or on your phone.
  • Please arrive at the meeting point 10 minutes prior to tour departure.
  • We are COVID-Safe and follow all current NSW Government requirements.
  • Tickets are transferrable and cancellable up to 72 hours before the event.
  • Whatever happens in regards to weather – we walk – so dress for the weather! If for some reason the tour does not go ahead, you will receive a full refund. In this instance we would notify you at least 90 minutes prior to the tour by text message so a mobile number is requested in the next window.

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SAW is a member of Guiding Architects, the international network for high-quality architecture tours.