The reengagement of Jørn Utzon on the Sydney Opera House in 1999 was considered an international coup and opportunity for healing and closure to the controversy sparked by his departure 32 years earlier. This paper investigates the consequences of Utzon’s reengagement and analyses the work completed by Utzon and his collaborators thereafter, both with respect to Utzon’s original work and to the work of Utzon’s successor, Peter Hall. A focus of the paper is the proposal by Utzon and JPW Architects, for a New Opera Theatre to replace the existing theatre completed by Hall in 1973. This controversial project challenges pre-existing narratives which focus on the Sydney Opera House as either an “unfinished” or “salvaged” masterpiece. While 50 years of successful operation can be attributed to the contribution of both Utzon and Hall, this becomes more complicated when considered within the context of monumentality. The need to accommodate evolving functional requirements within a fixed external form highlights inherent contradictions in the concept of a “modern monument.” By agreeing to become reassociated with his most important work, Utzon signalled that he recognised these challenges and, through three projects, demonstrated how the building could continue to evolve into the future.
- Sydney Opera House
- World Heritage