Secondary navigation


Utzon Center

Slotspladsen 4
9000 Aalborg


Phone: +45 76 90 50 00
CVR: 30 27 94 41

Sydney Opera House: A beautiful idea

From Oct 12th 2023

New permanent exhibition. The Sydney Opera House is a World Heritage Site. On 20 October 2023, Jørn Utzon’s masterpiece turns 50. The Sydney Opera House is a masterpiece and a milestone in modern architecture.

This iconic building is one of the most photographed structures in the world. Everyone knows the distinctive shapes of its white roof. It is hard to imagine Sydney and Australia without the Opera House.


20 October 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of this building – the creation of the Danish architect Jørn Utzon.


But what is it that we still find so fascinating about it five decades on?


And where does the vision of a masterpiece begin?


Love of nature

The story begins far away from Sydney’s palms and harbour. We need to travel 16,000 kilometres north: all the way up to the northern hemisphere and a city on the shore of a Danish fjord.


Jørn Utzon grew up in Aalborg, where his childhood was all about sailing and life in the great outdoors.


Thanks to his father – a boatbuilder – craftsmanship, an understanding of materials and rounded shapes formed a unique foundation for this 37-year-old, relatively unknown architect, who in 1957 won an international competition to design and build an opera house in Australia.


It all began with a pencil

The exhibition Sydney Opera House – A Beautiful Idea will take you on an inspirational, at times dramatic journey into the story of Utzon’s building and the visions that quickly caught the attention of the entire world.


It is a tale of a masterpiece that all began with abstract pencil strokes in a small, yellow-brick house in a beech forest outside Copenhagen.


It is a tale of a very special way of existing in the world. Of a building and an approach to architecture that reminds us just how beautiful nature is.


Of the pilgrimage of an architect out into the world, drawing startling inspiration for modern architecture from the temples and cathedrals of the past.


Of a collective, creative community of architects, engineers, specialists and craftsmen who took their time, daring to experiment, invent solutions and create something extraordinary.


“’s called poetry”

Visit the exhibition. Discover Jørn Utzon’s drawings and models that show the evolution from his first, fledgling ideas to the final building in Sydney, which today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a symbol of “human creative genius”.


It is a journey into the story of a piece of Danish world history. Much has already been written and said about the drama, turmoil and political pressure that is also part of the genesis of the Opera House. But the exhibition is principally a tribute to the “beautiful idea” and the desire to create a world, which, as Utzon put it, contains “something more than pure function… it’s called poetry.”


Sydney Opera House Piers Taylor vnr



One of numerous sketches by Jørn Utzon where he was working on the shape of the rooftoop. This sketch is from 1958. Notice where he have written 'ja' which is 'yes' in Danish. We have selected the work from Utzons personal archive, so you can buy it as a poster from our webshop and support our work. 



Jørn Utzon's drawing from 1961 where he shows the geometry of the roof of the Opera House. We have selected the work, so you can buy it as a poster from our webshop




Supported by:











In cooperation with: