Sydney Opera House listed on World Heritage List

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Sydney Opera House has been recognised by the UNESCO as a significant site
Image: Enochlau.
The Sydney Opera House is a key feature of Sydney's skyline
Image: Wj32.

The World Heritage Committee of the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has today announced in Christchurch, New Zealand that the Sydney Opera House has been added to the World Heritage List of culturally significant sites.

It is the third time that a bid has been made to include the Opera House in the list, after failing to receive enough votes in 1981 and 1996. Roni Amelan, UNESCO spokesman said the decision to list the Opera House was unanimous.

"There was consensus that it was a truly outstanding, iconic building that was a defining moment in 20 century architecture," said Mr Amelan.

The committee described the Opera House as daring and influential. "It is a daring and visionary experiment that has had an enduring influence on the emergent architecture of the late 20th-century," claimed the committee. "The building is a great artistic monument and an icon."

The Sydney Opera House becomes the youngest building to be listed on the register, being built in October 1973. It joins other landmarks such as the Taj Mahal, Statue of Liberty and the Egyptian Pyramids. The Opera House becomes only the second Australian building on the list, joining the Melbourne Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, which were added in 2004.

As a result of the listing, a 2.5 kilometre buffer will be enforced around the Opera House to protect views to and from the building. If the World Heritage values of the site are breached, the site can be placed on an endangered list and removed from the register.

Australian Prime Minister, John Howard said the Opera House is treasured throughout the world. "The Opera House, and its setting at Bennelong Point on Sydney Harbour, is an iconic and treasured place, not just for Australians but also internationally," he said.

An excited NSW Premier, Morris Iemma informed state parliament of the UNESCO's decision.

Jorn Utzon, the architect of the Opera House gave a statement from his home in Denmark expressing the honour of having one of his buildings listed on the register.

"World Heritage listing gives the building ... a completely new value," Mr Utzon said. "It is a gift to the city of Sydney." Mr Utzon said it was the vision of those who worked on the construction of the Opera House for it to be Sydney's greatest landmark.

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