The Red Book

Featuring the first geometrical approach to the roof forms.

By Sydney Opera House

Title page (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Within six months of the announcement of his winning design, architect Jørn Utzon was required to produce new plans, which would become the Red Book, presented in March 1958.

The Red Book, which Utzon dedicated to New South Wales Premier Joe Cahill, was not just a beautiful document.

Alongside an undeniable quality of design and aesthetics, the reports from Utzon's consultants and the overall effect of conveying a buildable structure, the Opera House moved far closer to becoming a real building.

Page 1, Introductory remarks, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 2, Jørn Utzon's pencil sketch of the first geometrical roof profile (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

When engineers Arup and Partners requested that Utzon define the curves of the roof, he took a plastic ruler and, holding it perpendicular to a table, made it bend, tracing the curves. He sent them to London, explaining these were the shapes he wanted.

Page 3, Site plan (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 4, Plan of halls, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 5, Plan of bars, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 6, First floor, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 7, Ground floor, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 8, Longitudinal section through Major Hall, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 9, Section through the halls, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 10, East elevation (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

The outcome of the first exchanges between architect and engineer produced an initial sketch of the roof in which every curvature is different – a structurally unsound form with difficult bending moments near its footings.

Page 11, North elevation (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 12, West elevation (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

However, this first geometrical approach to the shells was also visually very beautiful in a distinctly different way to the drawings Utzon had submitted for the competition.

Page 13, South elevation (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

The ridge profiles were much higher and pointed now, and the end shell form of Utzon’s competition drawings no longer cantilevered, like a cliff cave over the sea.

Page 14, Model of the first geometrical roof profile (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 15, Model of the first geometrical roof profile (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 16, Model of the first geometrical roof profile (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 17, Longitudinal section through Minor Hall, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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The higher profiles allowed far more volume for the stage towers, auditoria and acoustics, all of which had been underestimated in the competition sketches.

Page 18, Section through stage towers, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 19, Longitudinal section through Central Passage, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Clearly the profile of the roof had changed considerably, but it was received by the client and the public as a transformation for the better, for both logistical and aesthetic reasons.

Page 20, Section through Concourse, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 21, Interior of Concert Hall, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 22, Detailed sections, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 23, Roof profile sketches (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 24, Structural review, Ove Arup, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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The 55 pages contained contributions from Utzon and his architects alongside Ove Arup and Partners, as well as Utzon's group of consultants, detailing stage machinery and acoustics.

Page 25, Plan of principal construction features, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 26, Preliminary layout of shells, Ove Arup and Partners (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 27, Parabolic study of roof, Ove Arup and Partners (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 28, Models of shells, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 29, Scheme for intersection shells, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 30, Reinforced concrete shells, study (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 31, Reinforced concrete shells, study, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 32, Ceramic tiles study, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 33, Plan of Concourse beams, first floor (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 34, Plan of Concourse beams, second floor (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 35, Model of Concourse beams, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 36, Acoustics: contents, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 37, Sound reflections in halls, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 38, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 40, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 41, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 42, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 43, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 44, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 45, Acoustics descriptions, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 46, Mechanical services, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 47, Mechanical services, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 48, Basement floor, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 49, Longitudinal section through Major Hall, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 51, Theatre technique, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 52, Theatre technique, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 53, Various uses of Major Hall (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 54, Stage machinery (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Page 55, Stage machinery, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Page 56, Alternative balcony plan, Jørn Utzon, 1958, From the collection of: Sydney Opera House
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Back cover of the Red Book (1958) by Jørn UtzonSydney Opera House

Credits: Story

Created by Sam Doust and the
Sydney Opera House GCI Team

________________________________


Contributors:
State Records NSW

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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