The Fifth Facade: Like a walnut shell

Title:
The Fifth Facade: Like a walnut shell
NFSA ID:
47027
Year:
1971
Category:
Access fees

An excerpt from the Film Australia collection's The Fifth Facade. The title is a reference to the roof which is the building’s most distinctive feature. Architect Jørn Utzon says:

I saw it as a building which people will sail around. There are ferries sailing past and large ships coming in. The big harbour is just outside and the large bridge nearby. So people will see it as a round thing. Therefore instead of making it a square box and I've made a sculpture, but a sculpture covering the necessary functions in the same way as a walnut shell covers the kernel.

An excerpt from the Film Australia collection's The Fifth Facade, 1971, Film Australia Collection © NFSA. Full title available for purchase from the NFSA Shop.

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most identifiable of Australia’s icons and is considered by many to be among the great architectural masterpieces. Its entire construction period was recorded on film. The Fifth Facade documents the history of this striking and imaginative building, from the selection of the site at Bennelong Point to the official opening. The commentary of Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect who won the worldwide competition for the original building design, offers insights into the unique structural and aesthetic problems that had to be solved to make his vision a reality.

On 20 October 1973, the Sydney Opera House was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II. From conception to completion, it had taken more than 15 years and over $100 million.

A remarkable feat of engineering skill and innovation, this striking and imaginative building captured the world’s interest and is considered by many to be among the great architectural achievements of the 20th century.

In the years since its completion, the Sydney Opera House has become one of the most identifiable of Australia’s icons - ranking with the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Uluru, the koala and kangaroo.

The construction of this architectural masterpiece was recorded by the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit from its inception. 

The Fifth Facade documents the history of the Opera House, from the selection of the site at Bennelong Point to the official opening. The commentary of Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect who won the worldwide competition for the original building design, offers insights into his vision for a construction appropriate to the to the site it occupied and the functions it was to serve. He details the unique structural and aesthetic problems that had to be solved to make his vision a reality.

Producer:
Anthony Buckley
Director:
Donald Crombie
Writers:
Keith Gow, Peter Weir and Donald Crombie
Narration:
Sam Wanamaker and Jorn Utzon

Jørn Utzon voice-over: I saw it as a building which people will sail around. There are ferries sailing past and large ships coming in. The big harbour is just outside and the large bridge nearby. So people will see it as a round thing. Therefore instead of making it a square box and I've made a sculpture, but a scupture covering the necessary functions in the same way as a  walnut shell covers the kernal.