Sydney Opera House Book. Arup Chapter

MY SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE BOOK CHAPTER-BY-CHAPTER … The title is part of a comment made by architect Jorn Utzon in an interview he gave in 1970, three years before the building, completed by Australian architects Peter Hall, David Littlemore and Lionel Todd, opened. When Utzon was re-engaged as the Sydney Opera House’s architect in 1999 he compiled a set of Design Principles to guide the building’s evolution as a working multi-venue performing arts centre. He prized an unbroken lifeline rather than a static ideal of design perfection.

Utzon suggested that continuity of personnel would carry the Opera House over the disruptions between eras. He mentioned being grateful that Ove Arup’s engineers stayed on after he’d left in 1966. Arup is again carrying the Opera House over a divide between eras. Despite the global reach and diversity of projects carried out by the firm the Opera House remains the project they’re most closely associated with.


My book looks how Arup’s ongoing association with the Opera House fulfils Ove Arup’s belief that engineering is an art as well as something practical. The photo here is of the Oresund Bridge that runs between Malmo and Copenhagen. It was also the site for the murder that defines the ‘Nordic Noir’ detective series, the Bridge, when a body was found on the border between Sweden and Denmark on the bridge. This is from the catalogue accompanying an exhibition devoted to Ove Arup’s life and work at the V & A Museum in 2016.

My book includes Arup’s collaborations with film-makers and artists, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard, and their projects for Nick Cave, including 20,000 Days on Earth, partly filmed at the Opera House, and the audiobook of the novel The Death of Bunny Munro. Arup has also worked with Lou Reed, Anish Kapoor and Anthony Gormley.



My book, with illustrations by Reg Mombassa, is available at



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s