Work is soon to begin on a $150 million upgrade of the Sydney Opera House's 2,500-seat concert hall, the largest project in the venue's multi-million-dollar “decade of renewal” capital works program.
The NSW government-funded refurbishment will take up to two years to complete, and is part of a 10-year capital works program totalling more than $275 million.
The development works are set to transform the World Heritage-listed icon ahead of its 50th anniversary in 2023.
New state-of-the-art theatre machinery and staging systems will ensure the hall is better equipped to present a range of performances, improving acoustics for artists and audiences, enhancing access for people with mobility needs and improving the work environment for behind-the-scenes staff.
Renewal works are being undertaken in line with the Opera House’s Conservation Management Plan and Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s design principles, and with respect to the original interiors of architect Peter Hall, who completed the Opera House after Utzon departed the project.
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A notable change will be the installation of new above-stage reflectors to replace the distinctive clear acrylic “doughnuts” conceived by Hall and Dr Vilhelm Jordan to solve the acoustics challenges presented by the uniquely-shaped venue.
Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron says it is vital that the Opera House and its stages continue to evolve along with the needs of the community it serves.
“Renewing the concert hall will enable us present an even broader and more ambitious program of classical and contemporary art in a venue that is more accessible, safer and better equipped,” says Herron.
“This is a historic moment for the Opera House and we are incredibly grateful to the NSW government for its support and to everyone involved in making this project possible.”
While works are under way, the Opera House will also start the final project in its decade of renewal, transforming office space in the building’s north-western corner into a new centre for creativity.
Taylor Construction and Waagner-Biro Stage Systems will carry out the works, alongside a design team including architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall (ARM), acousticians Mϋller-BBM, specialist theatre consultants Theatreplan UK, Arup Engineers, Steensen Varming and heritage architect Design5, as well as the Opera House’s building team, design advisory panel and conservation council.