The idea of coming up with the construction of building Sydney opera house was influenced by the fact that there was a lack of adequate venue for music and opera presentation. Therefore, the government of New South Wales State was forced to call for a competition that invited designers who could come up with an appropriate design of what was needed for the Opera house. The appropriate design had to have the capability of providing several stages of for a variety of activities such as symphony concerts, ballet and opera. The structure was also needed to hold 3000- 3500 individuals at the symphony concert chamber and 1200 people in the music and drama chambers. Eventually, John Utzon, architecture from Denmark won the tender after displaying the best ideas in his design, which was motivated from his experience on structures like the Mayan temple.

Sydney Opera House Construction Project


The Sydney opera house is one of the latest outstanding architecture. This factor has made kit to be admired by several individuals internationally. On the other hand, Australian citizens are proud of it and treasure it so much. The location of the structure has also influenced its general pride. It is situated on the shore of Sydney’s harbor. Generally, it is the structural design of the structure that has made it outstanding when compared to other structures that were constructed using the same design such as the Mayan Temple among others. Some of its outstanding features in clued the following:

One of the most outstanding features regarding the design of Sydney Opera House is the type of roofing it has. The Mayan Temple inspired the roofing design of the structure. This is because; both the roofing was constructed using the precast concrete. However, the one for Sydney Opera appears to be outstanding because of its complexity in shape. Generally, the Sydney Opera House roof comprises a chain of precast concrete, which are designed in a spherical like shapes (Utzon, 2013). It is also important to note that Sydney Opera House Structure remains to be one of the earliest structures to be constructed with the aid of computers. For instance, for the spherical structures of its roof to be constructed, the engineers applied the use of computer aid.

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Figure 1.1: Shapes used in the roofing of Sydney Opera House

The total number of the precast concrete present on the Sydney Opera house roof is 2194 in number. Each of them is estimated to weigh 15 tones. They are then held together by the use of tightened cables of steel, which is also estimated to measure up to 217 miles in length. The other contrast between the roof of the Sydney opera house with that of Mayan Temple is that the precast concrete on the Sydney’s opera house roof are covered with bright ceramic tiles. This tiles were painted white for the purposes of controlling the amount of darkness that was exhibited within the house (Utzon, 2002). The number of tiles present on its roof is 1,056,056. Generally, the total weight of the structure’s roof is 27,230 tonnes (Utzon, 2013).

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Figure 1.2:
Showing Tiles used in covering the precast concrete on the roof

The walls and corners

The other design feature that makes Sydney opera house different from other structures of the same caliber is its inner wall design. The walls comprise of glasses, which are suspended to hang on from the shells. Utnoz arrived at this idea after their initial one of using bronze laminated mullions happens to be complicated. However, the glasses are of varying sizes. The wall glasses also comprises of two layers tinted in different colors. One layer of the glasses is tinted in plain color and the other is in demi-topaz color. However, the exterior side of the wall like the stairs and the floors of the Sydney opera house, are covered with plywood. In addition, the plywoods are also coated with pink granite thus making it look decorated (Utzon, 2002). In order to arrive at the best designs for corners of the Sydney opera house, the designers underwent through a series of drawings and models in order to come up with a design that would give the building a humane expression.

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Figure 1.3:
Showing the wall glass suspended from the precast concrete shells

The vehicle concourse and folded slab

The initial plans for the by Utnoz, who was one of the engineers of the structure, there was a need to separate pedestrians and vehicle entrances into the compound of the Sydney opera house. This factor therefore implied that there was a need of more than one entry line into the compound. Therefore, the need for concourse beam arises. According to Utnoz plans, the beams depth was to be constructed at its minimum and its section to be uniform across the rest of the span (Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology, 2003, 2). However, there arose a controversy with his co — engineer Arup who advocated for a concrete beam with a T section at hits Midspan. However, after Arup’s idea proved hard to implement, Utnoz idea of having a concouser beam was implemented. Implementation of Utnoz’s idea of concourse beams helped in saving both the cost and time for the construction. Furthermore, it has helped in providing the sidewalks at the entrance of the Sydney opera house compound thereby reducing the chances of accidents that may occur should pedestrians and vehicles share the same lines.

Utnoz idea towards the Sydney project was also to provide it with the natural colors unlike the other structures (Utzon, 2002). In order to achieve this, he applied the use of a series of successive layers of colors that could help in outlining different geometrical parts of the house. This idea in turn has made it possible for visitors who arrive at the Sydney opera house to experience the intimate feeling after having a glance at the colors on it. However, the minor hall of the Sydney opera house was needed the use of relatively dark colors since its major purpose was in the production of theatrical activities. Unlike the minor hall, the interior of the major hall requires the need for lighter color schemes. This was so for the purpose of this hall was for activities such as concerts, which required the use of relatively dark colors.

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Figure 1.4: Dark color scheme Figure 1.5: Light color scheme

Height and Area covered by the building

The Sydney opera house was constructed in the harbor of Sydney. The size of its site is estimated to be 5.5 acres yet the structure consumes up to 4.5 acres of that (New South Wales Government, 2002). The amount of usable floor that is present in the building is also estimated to be 11acres. The building is also believed to have a height of 611ft long and 380 ft at its widest point. Subsequently, the highest roof vault of the building is above the centre hall and it is estimated to be at 221 ft above the sea level.

Comparison of Sydney opera house and Mayan temple

Looking at the two structures it is clear that there are some structural designs that look similar. First, regarding the fact that Utnoz Idea of coming up with a roof that is made of concrete shell (Thornley, 2011) was motivated by his observation of the Mayan Temple, makes it relevant that the two structures were constructed using the same principles. However, the one used in constructing the Sydney house of Opera was modified through the incorporation of the spherical like shape on the roof. It is also important to note that both the structures were constructed on the shores of the water bodies. Another major design similarity between Sydney opera house and the Mayan temple is that both of their podiums are situated beneath the audiences seating positions. Utnoz also implemented this factor in the designing of the Sydney opera house after seeing it in the Mayan temple project.


Australian Society for History of Engineering and Technology. (2003). An Engineering Walk around the Sydney Opera House. ASHET self guided tour brochures, pp. 1-4.

Sydney Opera House. (2008). Overview of the building. Retrieved from

Utzon, J. (2002, May). Sydney opera house Utnoz Design Principles. Retrieved from

New South Wales Government. (2002, May 23). Retrieved from

Thornley, R. (2011, May 15). Facts on Mayan Temples In Mexico. Retrieved from