Shortly after Chinese actor Jackie Chan filmed daring stunts atop the Sydney Opera House, the New South Wales government has announced that Australia’s cultural icon will undergo a multimillion facelift starting next year.
Deputy Premier and Arts Minister Troy Grant announced Thursday the biggest and most significant renovation plan for the Sydney Opera House since it opened in 1973.
“The Sydney Opera House has played an important role in our nation’s history and embarking on these renewal projects will ensure that it continues to be relevant for generations to come,” he said.
Grant said that the NSW government will fund the $202 million Concert Hall upgrade using the proceeds of the sale of the state’s electricity assets. The Sydney Opera House reportedly cost $100 million to build over 40 years ago, but the state claimed that the “cultural and iconic” value of the building is worth $4.6 billion.
The son of the late Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed the Sydney Opera House, sits in the panel to ensure that the changes will abide by the original design principle that made the building an iconic architectural structure.
According to Sydney Opera House chief executive Louise Herron, a new acoustic ceiling will be installed with reflectors for better sound distribution.
“The problem is with the very high ceiling a lot of the sound that the orchestra actually makes rises and isn’t reflected down, so that the musicians on one side — for example the second violins — have trouble hearing the double basses,” Herron said.
“It means, it’s not such a good experience as it could be if the sound is more contained.”
The stage’s elevation will be lowered and the back stage will be expanded. The “glass donuts” above the stage will be removed so does the “marquee” on the northern broadwalk.
The working design that Grant unveiled also include the provision of three lifts and an escalator to the foyer. The air conditioning system for the foyer will be replaced with new air conditioning system that will be installed under the seats.
There is also a proposal to construct a new function centre on the ground floor that could accommodate 190 seats and 500 standing people. Additional passageways will be constructed and up to 26 wheelchair seating areas in various parts of the concert hall.
Sydney Opera House Closure
Renovation works will be done in tranches to keep the Sydney Opera House open to the public. Construction of a new lounge and cafe at the box office foyer will be done in two stages, beginning in 2017 and 2019.
The most disruptive stage, the concert hall renovation, will run from August 2019 to January 2021 and force the Sydney Opera House to be closed to the public.