Above image: the original Sydney Opera House Concert Hall by Utzon is up for a dramatic facelift.
Melbourne-based architecture firm ARM will redesign the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, the iconic building’s largest performance venue. The Concert Hall seats more than 2600 visitors, and its upgrade is part of a 10-year renewal plan for the Opera House.
The Concert Hall is set to close during a planned $150 million overhaul, says Sydney Opera House chief executive, Louise Herron. Over the next 10 years there will be a rolling closure of the building’s various performance venues, starting with the 1500-seat Joan Sutherland Theatre in 2017, which will close for seven months.
Opera House directors have largely maintained confidentiality thus far on the major project, though Ms Herron has said: “The Opera House is truly the people’s house and we will be seeking to involve the people more and more as we plan for the next decade”.
Though ARM has previously designed performing arts venues across Australia – including Melbourne’s Hamer Hall and the Perth Arena, both projects being recipients of the highly coveted AIA Award (National) in 2013 – this project is unlike any other for the cultural significance of its site. ARM faces the difficult challenge of creating something new and beautiful, while retaining the Concert Hall’s historical charm.
Studies by architects, acoustic engineers and surveys of performers and critics have revealed that the Concert Hall venue is regarded as having extremely poor acoustics, a foremost spatial consideration to be addressed in ARM’s redesign.
ARM is behind a great number of impressive projects across the country, including residential, master planning and urban design, sports and recreation venues, and public infrastructure. Notable projects include Australia’s National Museum, Melbourne’s Docklands, and the Swanston Square Apartment Tower – all distinguished designs of the highest calibre. ARM Architecture’s refurbishment of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall will be not exception.
The World Heritage-listed Opera House was designed by Pritzker Prize laureate Jorn Utzon, although major revisions had to be made to Utzon’s design after he resigned from the project in 1966.