With its iconic design that resembles a carefully balanced assemblage of white seashells (or for some, a rack of stacked dishes) on Bennelong Point, the Sydney Opera House – Australia’s most famous landmark and a World Heritage Site of UNESCO – is an indisputable masterpiece of human creativity.
Over 200 designs were submitted when State Prime Minister Joseph Cahill announced an international competition to build a “national opera house” at Bennelong Point in February 1956, and the story behind the design as we know it today. hui is so dramatic that it could rival any opera you would see on its various stages.
Relatively unknown, 38-year-old Danish architect Jørn Utzon won the competition with his sculptural design (one of 12 contests), which would transform not only his career, but also the image of the nation. Sadly, Joseph Cahill will never see his dream come true – the Prime Minister passed away before construction was completed, 17 years after the design competition was held. Even Utzon himself would never see his masterpiece realized. After a clash with the Minister of Labor over skyrocketing costs, Ultzon resigned and left the country, never to return.
But what would city life be like if one of the 222 other contest entries were selected? The cultural institution which occupies a prominent place in Circular Quay could have a completely different atmosphere. British design studio NeoMam unearthed seven of the best entries and created these incredible digital renderings, commissioned by Budget Direct Travel Insurance, to give us a taste of how Sydney could have been different.
Interestingly, no limit has been set on the budget available to build the winning entry. The competition allowed architects to enter an unlimited number of drawings, provided they were in black and white. It was also pointed out that architects should leave space for at least 100 cars to park on site – mainly those of the orchestra.