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 essential masterpiece of human creativity.
Over 200 designs were submitted when State Premier Joseph Cahill announced an international competition to build a “National Opera House” at Bennelong Point in February 1956, and the story behind the design we know today is filled with so much drama 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 submissions reviewed), which would not only transform his career, but the nation’s image as well. Sadly, Joseph Cahill would never see his dream come true – the Prime Minister died before construction was completed, 17 years after the design competition was held. Even Utzon himself would never see his masterpiece realized. After an argument with the Minister of Works over spiraling costs, Ultzon resigned and left the country, never to return.
But what would life in the city be like if one of the other 222 candidates were selected? The cultural institution that occupies a place of choice in Circular Quay could have a completely different atmosphere. UK-based creative studio NeoMam unearthed seven of the best entries and created these incredible digital renders, at the request of Budget Direct Travel Insuranceto give us a glimpse of how Sydney could have been different.
Interestingly, no limit was set on the budget available to build the winning work. The competition allowed architects to enter any number of designs, as long as they were in black and white. It was also pointed out that the architects should allow at least 100 cars to park on site – mainly those of the orchestra.