Essay for world heritage

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Sydney Opera House


Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece of the late modern architecture in Australia. The Sydney Opera House was made a world heritage in 2007 by UNESCO. The centre acts as a symbol of Australian and world heritage (Australian Department of the Environment, 2016). Sydney Opera House is considered to be of importance in Australia cultural history due to its values in the national history of architectural design and performing art. According to Sydney Opera House web (2016), the building was designed by Jorn Utzon between 1956 and 1973. It is a symbol of great architectural work based on creativity in both architectural and structural designs. The building is a masterpiece of human creativity in the history of mankind as described by UNESCO (UNESCO, 2016). In the contemporary world, diversity occurs from the multifaceted societies who have a rich culture. Cultural heritage acts as a factor of unification in a diverse society (Araoz 2011, p.55-57). This essay describes the Sydney Opera House and explains its significance and how it contributes to the understanding of the world history.


The building is an example of late modern architecture which was created by Jorn Utzon. The building was designed and constructed in the 20th century and inscribed to world heritage by UNESCO in 2007 (UNESCO, 2016). The monumental urban architecture is located at the Sydney Harbour on the Bennelong point. The building has two major halls which are arranged side by side having two axis which inclines to each other and runs from the north- south. Sydney Opera House occupies a world famous maritime location in the harbour. The roof of the building looks like billowing sails which are filled by sea winds (Jianbin, 2008).

Essay for world heritage

Sydney Opera House Design (Woolley, 2010).
Figure 1

Sydney Opera House has been described as a rare and outstanding achievement in architecture. It does not only represent the Utzon masterpiece but also the work of the structural engineering. The house acts as a great urban structure, world-class performance arts centre and venue for tourism and community activities (Woolley, 2010). According to the Article 1 of the World Heritage Convention, Sydney Opera House meets the definition of a monument (UNESCO, 2016). This is due to the architectural work which is of an outstanding value based on both art and science. It represents a turning point in the late modern movement (Jianbin 2008, p.5). The outstanding global values of the building are based on three aspects:

• Masterpiece of the modern architecture

• Outstanding achievement in structural engineering

• Famous and iconic building based on 20th century architecture.


The values of the Sydney Opera House make it one of the world heritages. The place has an Australian heritage based on the pattern of Australian national and cultural history. This is based on the building design, construction and the history of the country’s performing arts. It is a masterpiece of modern architecture and engineering technology used in the country during the period (Australian Department of the Environment, 2013). For the country, it is an iconic building which is recognised globally. Its design has attracted both professional and public acclaim. Since the building was opened in 1973 by Queen Elizabeth 2, the venue has played a vital role in the country’s performing arts history. This has enriched the country cultural vitality. During the construction period between 1957 and 1973, it was a historical period in Australia politics and economic development. It is a rare national culture centre which is globally respected for the performing arts (Sydney Opera House, 2016).

The Sydney Opera House is a great 20th-century architectural work. It is a representation of creativity based on its architectural and structural design. The building stands as an iconic urban structure which is set in waterscape and near an iconic building (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006). Sydney Opera House has continued performing its role as a global performing arts centre. At the moment, the building conservation plan is very good. There are a lot of measures and repairs in place to ensure that the heritage site is maintained in good condition (Sydney Opera House, 2016).

The scale, location and design make opera house one of the most significant landforms. The House has aesthetic qualities which relate to the setting at the Bennelong point. It has very distinctive architectural features. Being built in juxtaposition with the Sydney Harbour enhances its landmark qualities. The building represents architectural creativity which is unparalleled in Australia history (Australian Department of the Environment, 2013).

Essay for world heritage 1

View of Sydney Opera House (Sydney Opera House, 2016)
Figure 2

It is important to note that the outstanding cultural heritage is associated with the life works of Jorn Utzon (Woolley 2010, p.31). His work marked an important development in the modern architecture movement which is associated with the free plan and use of clear construction (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006). The work of Jorn Utzon had been influenced by the Ancient Mayans and Aztecs architecture. It also reflects the work of earlier architects such as Alvar Aalto and Frank Lloyd Wright. The peninsula where the building is located is associated with Bennelong, who was an aboriginal man and played a major role in interaction between the settlers and the early European settlers (Australian Department of the Environment, 2013).

Cultural heritage include a place which has aesthetic, historical, architectural, scientific or social significance among others. Sydney Opera House has proved to have architectural, aesthetic, historical, cultural and scientific significance among others. This makes it one of the most important cultural heritages (The State of Queensland, 2013). The cultural heritage of Sydney Opera House is worldwide since its significance helps a lot in understanding the modern architectural movement. A heritage has social and economic values and plays part in sustainable development. Heritage such as Sydney Opera House if well managed is a tool in enhancing social inclusion, intercultural dialogue, enhancing environment and creating social cohesion (Araoz 2011, p.56-58). Thus investing in a heritage has returns. This case is true for Sydney Opera House, which is one of the most visited and utilised heritage sites. Sydney Opera House is estimated to be worth AUD4.6 billion and has been contributing about AUD 775 million annually to the economy (Sydney Opera House, 2016).

Buildings offer a very important tool in understanding history (Fazio, Moffett and Wodehouse, 2008, p.35-41). Through reading a building, it is possible to learn about its history due to fact that architecture has a history. The Sydney Opera House gives vital information on the late modern architecture history. It helps in learning about the space, structure and form of the late modern architecture period (Commonwealth of Australia, 2006). From the architecture in the prehistoric times to the neo-modern architecture, each of the styles represents a given period in world history. The Sydney Opera House can convey the transition from the 20th-century modern architecture to the 21st-century neo-modern architecture. The building reflects the masterpiece of the late modern architecture before the movement to the postmodernism which started in 1972 (Australian Department of the Environment, 2013). Through analysing the architectural movements, it is possible to find ideas which date back to the ancient times (Kelsall 2009, p.15-20). The connection between architecture and history is very vital in this case. Thus, Sydney Opera House represents an architectural movement which is important in understanding the world history.


To sum up, Sydney Opera House is one of the world heritages which are of great importance in understanding the world history. The iconic building was constructed from John Utzon design between1956 and1973. The construction is a symbol of great architectural work based on creativity in both architectural and structural designs. It is a major representation of the late modernism architecture. Based on article 1 of the World Heritage Convention, Sydney Opera House can meet the definition of a monument. The building is of great significance in architectural history, structural engineering, performing arts and technology. It is also important due to its aesthetic value and represents the life work of Jorn Utzon. It is a representation of creativity in both architecture and structural design. Sydney Opera House has helped in enhancing social inclusion, intercultural dialogue, enhancing the environment and creating social cohesion. It has been able to contribute to Australia economy. The role of architecture in understanding world history is evidenced through the architectural movements.


Araoz, G.F., 2011. ‘Preserving heritage places under a new paradigm’, Journal of cultural heritage management and sustainable development, Vol.1, no.1, pp.55-60.

Australian Department of the Environment, 2013, Statement of Values for Sydney Opera House National Heritage Listing, The Australian Department of the Environment, Viewed 13th April 2016, 83d7-04b124d801b1/files/soh-nationalheritagevalues.pdf

Australian Department of the Environment 2016, World Heritage Places — The Sydney Opera House, New South Wales, The Australian Department of the Environment, Viewed 13th April 2016, house

Commonwealth of Australia 2006, Sydney Opera House Nomination by the Government of Australia for Inscription on the World Heritage List 2006, Commonwealth of Australia, Viewed 13th April 2016,

Fazio, M.W., Moffett, M. and Wodehouse, L., 2008. A world history of architecture. Laurence King.

Jianbin, C., 2008, ‘Research on the Sydney Opera House’, Journal of Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Vol.4, no.1, p.005.

Kelsall, F., 2009, ‘Not as Ugly as Stonehenge: Architecture and History in the First Lists of Historic Buildings’, Architectural History, Vol.52, no.1, pp.1-29.

State of Queensland 2013, Assessing cultural heritage significance Using the cultural heritage criteria, Heritage Branch, Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, Viewed 13th April 2016,

Sydney Opera House 2016, Sydney Opera House History, Sydney Opera House, Viewed 13th April 2016,

UNESCO 2016, Sydney Opera House,, Viewed 13th April 2016,

Woolley, K., 2010. Reviewing the Performance: The Design of the Sydney Opera House. Watermark Press.