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    The Sydney Opera House and the geometry of the roof

    The Sydney Opera House and the geometry of the roof

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    The key to the roof shells. That's what Jørn called the geometry that solved the problem of building the Opera House's iconic roof. And it is encapsulated in this beautiful model.

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    When you look at the four shells, they look very simple. But it is a very complex form.

    The model describes the geometry of the roof of the Sydney Opera House. It consists of spheres and circle strokes. There are countless overlaps, and this is where the geometry suddenly emerges.

    Jørn won the competition to build the Opera House in Sydney in 1957. But it was not until 1961 that Jørn and his design studio cracked the code and found the technical solution to how they should actually build the roof on the proposal they had submitted several years earlier.

    They had tested all possible solutions on how to construct the wild roof in reality. After looking for several years, the solution was suddenly there, as Jørn describes here:

    “After three years of intensive searching for a simplified geometry for the shell complex, in October 1961 I arrived at the spherical solution shown here. I call it the key to the roof shells because it solves all construction problems by opening up mass production, manufacturing precision, and simple setup. And with this geometric system I achieve full harmony between all forms in this fantastic complex."

    The model of the roof can be seen in its entirety in the hemisphere, as you can see in the picture on the left. The three photographs illustrate the geometry and the key to the roof shells.
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