One of the most striking features of Oceania's built environment is the Sydney Opera House, a cultural center that sits on Sydney Harbor, off the Tasman Sea in southeastern Australia. The venue's soaring concrete "shells" were inspired by the maritime history of Sydney.

Photograph by Melissa Luter, MyShot
  • On October 20, 1973, the Sydney Opera House, designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, opened to the public and quickly became one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. The structure’s roof consists of a series of giant, arched, concrete “shells” that resemble the sails of a ship when seen from a distance. The building is one of the busiest performing arts centers in the world, playing host to more than 1,500 performances each year and visited by more than 7 million people annually. In 2007, the Sydney Opera House was made a UNESCO World Heritage site.

    The opera house was designed to be beautiful when viewed from land, air, or water, reflecting the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Sydney’s port. Utzon looked at sea charts, photographs, and aerial photographs to make sure his design would integrate with the landscape and harbor.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    architect Noun

    person who designs buildings or other large structures.

    chart Noun

    type of map with information useful to ocean or air navigators.

    Encyclopedic Entry: chart
    concrete Noun

    hard building material made from mixing cement with rock and water.

    cosmopolitan Adjective

    familiar or comfortable all over the world, or to people from all over the world.

    harbor Noun

    part of a body of water deep enough for ships to dock.

    Encyclopedic Entry: harbor
    integrate Verb

    to combine, unite, or bring together.

    landscape Noun

    the geographic features of a region.

    Encyclopedic Entry: landscape
    port Noun

    left side of a ship.

    roof Noun

    the top of a building.

    UNESCO Noun

    the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

    Encyclopedic Entry: UNESCO