Talk / Sails, Octopuses, and Telescopic Cranes: Building the Sydney Opera House

Sydney / May 9th
Aerial photo of the construction site. In the foreground, the western facade of the roof sails of the large hall and the areas for storing prefabricated segments around the podium. (Photographer: Robert Baudin for Hornibrook Limited. Credits: Australian Air Photos)
  • Event date: From May 09 2024, 18:00 To May 09 2024, 20:30 (Local time)
  • Place: Istituto Italiano di Cultura Level 4, 125 York street Sydney
  • Free Access with Booking

The Italian Cultural Institute Sydney is thrilled to announce the presentation of an extraordinary multi-year research project by Paolo Stracchi and Luciano Cardellicchio titled “Sails, Octopuses, and Telescopic Cranes: Building the Sydney Opera House.” Join us on Thursday, May 9th at 6:00 pm as we welcome these distinguished speakers to our venue to delve into this fascinating exploration.

Over the past 50 years, the Sydney Opera House has been widely celebrated for its architectural beauty and the well-known disputes among the personalities involved in its creation. However, the intricate construction decisions behind its iconic sail-like roof have received comparatively little attention. Since 2021, Paolo Stracchi from the University of Sydney, Luciano Cardellicchio from the University of New South Wales, and Paolo Tombesi from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne have been investigating original site minutes, reports, and a recently discovered set of 5,000 shop drawings to fill this gap.

In their talk, Stracchi and Cardellicchio will shed light on the vital role of the Australian general contractor in the design process and the innovative construction techniques and methods used for the construction of the Sydney Opera House. They suggest that both cultural ideas and technical details should be considered when rethinking the history of architecture.

The outcomes of this research have recently been featured in esteemed international magazines including Casabella and  L’Architecture d’Aujourd’hui.

Paolo Stracchi is a Senior Lecturer in Architectural Technology at the University of Sydney. His studies have focused on the work of Pier Luigi Nervi in Australia and the impact of modern architecture on NSW’s construction industry from 1950 to 1980, which earned him the Dr. AM Hertzberg AO Fellowship from the New South Wales State Library in 2022. Since 2020, Paolo has been investigating the socio-technical history of the Sydney Opera House.

Trained as a Building Engineer, Luciano Cardellicchio is a researcher and educator holding a doctoral degree in Architecture and Construction. At UNSW, Luciano serves as the Deputy Director of the Architecture programme and as a Senior Lecturer in Architectural Construction. His research interests centre on the creation of knowledge within the design development and construction processes of buildings.

Research and other materials on the project are available here:

Limited seat – booking essential HERE

Organized by: Istituto Italiano di Cultura – Sydney