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Operatic scale conservation

1 April 2016

Sydney’s iconic Opera House has embarked on a concrete conservation project that will keep the grand diva of construction looking its best for future artists, audiences and visitors.

This has been an extraordinary experience for our students who have been able to be exposed to one of world’s most attractive concrete structures
Professor Gianluca Ranz1

The Sydney Opera House in conjunction with researchers from the University of Sydney have spent the past 18 months researching and cataloguing an inventory of renovation and restoration needs for the World Heritage-listed site.  

The project forms part of the Getty Foundation’s Keeping It Modern initiative, dedicated to the conservation of significant 20th century architecture around the world.

“The Opera House is one of the world’s most recognisable concrete buildings. With its unique sculptural form, the building is known for its innovative use of structural concrete as an architectural element,” says Sydney Opera House Building Director Greg McTaggart.

“As we renew the building for the next generation we are currently reviewing and updating our asset management approach. The team’s research results will be integrated into the Opera House's long-term conservation management plan and will be easily accessible to building managers and staff involved in the day-to-day maintenance of the building.”

Professor Gianluca Ranzi from the University of Sydney’s School of Civil Engineering says:

“Concrete is a highly versatile material that has been used since the Roman Empire.”

“In the last century it enjoyed a renaissance and, since then, has been used as primary material in many modern day constructions, including the Opera House designed by Jørn Utzon and completed in 1973. 

“Academics and students from the disciplines of civil engineering, chemical engineering, architectural science and heritage conservation have been involved in this project by undertaking specialised students’ projects.

“They have been contributing to various aspects ranging from the analysis of past and current concrete condition assessment reports to the development of the structural assessment framework for the Opera House within the context of concrete conservation principles, addressing the needs of historic twentieth century concrete buildings.

“This has been an extraordinary experience for our students who have been able to be exposed to one of world’s most attractive concrete structures, and it has been a pleasure to see them engaged with this project,” says Professor Ranzi.


Victoria Hollick

Media and Public Relations Adviser
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