World Heritage Places - The Sydney Opera House - World Heritage values

New South Wales

Statement of Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Sydney Opera House constitutes a masterpiece of 20th century architecture. Its significance is based on its unparalleled design and construction; its exceptional engineering achievements and technological innovation and its position as a world-famous icon of architecture. It is a daring and visionary experiment that has had an enduring influence on the emergent architecture of the late 20th century. Utzon's original design concept and his unique approach to building gave impetus to a collective creativity of architects, engineers and builders. Ove Arup's engineering achievements helped make Utzon's vision a reality. The design represents an extraordinary interpretation and response to the setting in Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Opera House is also of outstanding universal value for its achievements in structural engineering and building technology. The building is a great artistic monument and an icon, accessible to society at large.

Criterion (i):

The Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world famous iconic building.

All elements necessary to express the values of the Sydney Opera House are included within the boundaries of the nominated area and buffer zone. This ensures the complete representation of its significance as an architectural object of great beauty in its waterscape setting. The Sydney Opera House continues to perform its function as a world-class performing arts centre. The Conservation Plan specifies the need to balance the roles of the building as an architectural monument and as a state of the art performing centre, thus retaining its authenticity of use and function. Attention given to retaining the building's authenticity culminated with the Conservation Plan and the Utzon Design Principles.

The Sydney Opera House was included in the National Heritage List in 2005 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and on the State Heritage Register of New South Wales in 2003 under the Heritage Act 1977. Listing in the National Heritage List implies that any proposed action to be taken inside or outside the boundaries of a National Heritage place or a World Heritage property that may have a significant impact on the heritage values is prohibited without the approval of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. A buffer zone has been established.

The present state of conservation is very good. The property is maintained and preserved through regular and rigorous repair and conservation programmes. The management system of the Sydney Opera House takes into account a wide range of measures provided under planning and heritage legislation and policies of both the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government. The Management Plan for the Sydney Opera House, the Conservation Plan and the Utzon Design Principles together provide the policy framework for the conservation and management of the Sydney Opera House.