The Master's Chamber

Sydney Opera House

The artist, designer, philosopher and architect in Jørn Utzon are all represented in the Utzon Room.

The Utzon Room is the first interior space fully realised to Jørn Utzon's specifications. The room celebrates the form of the Concourse beams that define the ceiling, and its eastern wall is glass, overlooking the harbour.

The western wall is dominated by a tapestry designed by Utzon, inspired by the music of Bach and Raphael's painting, The Procession to Calvary.

These elements of the Utzon Room characterise three ideas which, though fundamental to Utzon's architectural vision for Sydney Opera House, had been compromised in realising the finished building.

First, honesty of form and the beautiful expression of function were integral to Utzon's approach. He strove constantly to manifest these values in his own work as well as that of others.

Engineer Ove Arup's Concourse beams, which so impressed Utzon early in their working relationship, typify this central principle, and are the dominant feature of the Utzon Room.

Second, the pivotal role of the Sydney Harbour was also a fundamental principle for Utzon. When he first learned of the competition, he pored over nautical maps to assess and visualise the exceptional location of Bennelong Point, its centrality to the harbour area, and its suitability for a beautiful sculptural expression.

Just like Kronborg Castle in Helsingør, Denmark, immediately next to shipyards where Utzon’s father was director, Sydney Opera House would come to define its environment.

Finally, the idea of procession, which Utzon believed should be central to the experience of the Sydney Opera House, with a grand staircase leading up through the podium toward the performances.

It is this idea that is dominant in the abstract mural as inspired by Raphael's painting, The Procession to Calvary, in which Christ carries the cross on his way to Golgotha.

Given the history of the project, there lingers a certain degree of irony in Utzon's choice of subject matter for the mural.

The Utzon Music Series has been running since 1998, and has grown into one of Sydney's premier chamber music programs.

The distinctive Concourse beams, designed by engineer Ove Arup, provide a beautiful and dramatic sweeping form to the underside of the Monumental Steps, which continue up through the levels of entrance, including the Utzon Room, finishing just under the beginning of the vaulted arches of the two halls.

The powerful, elegant form that emerges from Arup's design thrilled Utzon, who called them “Ove's invention” in recognition of their contribution to the finished character of the House, and the spirit of collaboration that exemplified the early years of the building project.

Despite the pair’s later estrangement, the Concourse beams represent a lasting reminder of the close relationship between two great men and form a crucial trait of the Utzon Room.

Credits: Story

Created by Sam Doust and the
Sydney Opera House GCI Team

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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