Sydney Opera House: A brief history
Renowned as an iconic landmark within Australia, the Sydney Opera House has become one of the most distinguishable and impressive buildings in the world, opening officially in 1973. The build has since embedded a number of sustainable features to ensure the Opera House continues to provide key advantages within both construction and tourism sectors.
Located at Sydney Harbour, close to Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House contains several concert areas and social spaces, such as cafes, bars and restaurants, becoming one of the top tourist spaces within Sydney. We take a look at the tumultuous history of the Sydney Opera House and how it continues to inspire architects and designers.
Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who won the bid through an international competition, with over 200 entries, Sydney Opera House has since won a number of design and engineering awards, costing a total of $102 million.
The external expressionist design is striking, encompassing a number of precast shells which create the roof structure, supported through precast concrete ribs. Although from concrete, the rest of the building is predominately constructed from granite, sourced within New South Wales, in addition to glue laminated timber, which is supported through concrete piers.
Through incorporating several performance venues, the Opera House is able to undertake over 1,500 annual performances and is home to four companies based within Australia: the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia, The Australian Ballet and the Sydney Theatre Company. The concert hall is the largest area, encompassing the largest organ in the world and seating over 2,500 guests. Other theatre areas within the building are slightly smaller, seating from 500 to 1,500 seats.
Although Utzon’s design was originally selected, conflicts in the build’s construction and design led to Utzon’s resignation before the builds completion. Leading architect Peter Hall took on the project and has become renowned for completing the interior of Sydney’s Opera House and bringing Utzon’s construction into reality, albeit several structural changes.
The building has become increasingly sustainable, achieving a 4 Star Green Star Performance Rating from the Green Building Council of Australia, becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. There are aims for Sydney Opera House to become carbon neutral and increase the percent of recycling undertaken in construction and refurbishment. To highlight their continued efforts, the Opera House has also won two Green Globes in 2014 and 2015.
Read the November 2016 issue of Construction Global magazine.
Research reveals 164% rise in searches for loft conversions
Market research conducted by building supply specialist Insulation4Less has revealed that searches for ‘Loft Conversions’ rose by a staggering 164% between May and June of this year, while searches for ‘Loft Conversion Ideas’ jumped by 186% as people spend more time on home renovations this summer.
The company also found that the most popular use for a loft conversion is for an additional bedroom, while an extra bathroom was the second-highest search term. Walk-in wardrobes came in third, beating out a home office in fourth while converting a loft into a home cinema round off the top five.
According to a recent study, a loft conversion can add roughly 20% to the value of a property. With the average UK house price standing at £267,000 in January 2021, this represents an average increase in value of more than £53,400.
Johnpaul Manning, Managing Director of Insulation4Less, said: “If the last year has taught us anything, it's that having space is essential to our mental health and wellbeing, so it's no surprise that people are taking the time to focus on home improvements to help them make the most of their home.
As one of the most under-utilised areas in any property, loft conversions represent a great opportunity to maximise the use of space that not only improves quality of life but also has the capacity to add value to the home”, he said.
Manning added that it's important to remember that a loft conversion isn't just your average DIY project, and should never be done on the spur of the moment. “A significant amount of planning needs to happen to make it a reality, and an understanding that life can be disrupted while the build is taking place.
“While it's definitely a worthwhile project, I'd recommend that anyone considering a loft conversion should do some in-depth research to really understand what's needed to make it a reality”, Manning said.
Is Your Loft Suitable For a Conversion?
While loft conversions do look amazing and add an extra element to a property, not all homes may be suitable. Insulation4Less says that this is due to a variety of factors.
“It's important to make sure that your roof is structurally sound enough to handle a conversion”, the company said. Although there are different types of roof structures, they mostly fall into two distinct categories: a traditional roof, and a trussed roof.
A traditional roof: was typically found in pre-1960s houses. Rafters on traditional roofs run along its edges, leaving a good amount of free space. However, they might still need new or extra support. Trussed roofs, on the other hand, have ‘W’ shaped rafters that support the roof and the floor structure. Even though truss roofs may appear to be harder to convert, it’s not impossible; the ‘W’ shaped rafters can be replaced with an ‘A’ shape structure which creates a hollow space. While this can add additional costs, it could be a worthy investment, so take this into consideration during your planning process.
“Another thing to consider is the roof's height and pitch, and how that will impact the amount of space you’ll have. You’ll need a minimum height of 2.2m to ensure proper clearance. While you might be happy to settle for something a little shorter on paper, make sure your happy with the height you have and the effect it could have on the enjoyment of the space”, Insulation4Less advises.
The company recommends doing research before going to an architect or contractor. “Ultimately, look for other conversions on your street or in similar properties, and if you feel comfortable, ask if you can have a look and discuss how their project came together - you’ll find a wealth of information that could really help your own project in the future”.
Information credit: Insulation4Less.