Decision : 31 COM 8B.31
Nomination of natural, mixed and cultural properties to the world heritage list - Sydney Opera House

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Having examined Documents WHC-07/31.COM/8B and WHC-07/31.COM/INF.8B.1,

2. Inscribes the Sydney Opera House, Australia, on the World Heritage List on the basis of criterion (i);

3. Adopts the following Statement of Outstanding Universal Value:

The Sydney Opera House constitutes a masterpiece of 20th century architecture. Its significance is based on its unparalleled design and construction; its exceptional engineering achievements and technological innovation and its position as a world-famous icon of architecture. It is a daring and visionary experiment that has had an enduring influence on the emergent architecture of the late 20th century. Utzon's original design concept and his unique approach to building gave impetus to a collective creativity of architects, engineers and builders. Ove Arup's engineering achievements helped make Utzon's vision a reality. The design represents an extraordinary interpretation and response to the setting in Sydney Harbour. The Sydney Opera House is also of outstanding universal value for its achievements in structural engineering and building technology. The building is a great artistic monument and an icon, accessible to society at large. 

Criterion (i): The Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world famous iconic building.

All elements necessary to express the values of the Sydney Opera House are included within the boundaries of the nominated area and buffer zone. This ensures the complete representation of its significance as an architectural object of great beauty in its waterscape setting. The Sydney Opera House continues to perform its function as a world-class performing arts centre. The Conservation Plan specifies the need to balance the roles of the building as an architectural monument and as a state of the art performing centre, thus retaining its authenticity of use and function. Attention given to retaining the building's authenticity culminated with the Conservation Plan and the Utzon Design Principles.

The Sydney Opera House was included in the National Heritage List in 2005 under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and on the State Heritage Register of New South Wales in 2003 under the Heritage Act 1977. Listing in the National Heritage List implies that any proposed action to be taken inside or outside the boundaries of a National Heritage place or a World Heritage property that may have a significant impact on the heritage values is prohibited without the approval of the Minister for the Environment and Heritage. A buffer zone has been established.

The present state of conservation is very good. The property is maintained and preserved through regular and rigorous repair and conservation programmes. The management system of the Sydney Opera House takes into account a wide range of measures provided under planning and heritage legislation and policies of both the Australian Government and the New South Wales Government. The Management Plan for the Sydney Opera House, the Conservation Plan and the Utzon Design Principles together provide the policy framework for the conservation and management of the Sydney Opera House.

4. Recommends that the State Party give consideration to the following in order to ensure the optimisation of the management system for the property and its buffer zone:

     a) Define and implement construction regulations for the buffer zone, especially in relation to the conservation of the current skyline of the shore landscape of Sydney Harbour;

     b) Consider how to reconcile the increase of visitor numbers with the proper functioning of the performing arts centre and with the preservation of the property's outstanding universal value, integrity and authenticity. Management of the property could be further enhanced by increased interpretation of its values to visitors;

     c) The interior spaces and material components should be considered as important as the exterior form and materials. They bear testimony to the specific history and process of design and construction of the building. It is thus recommended that conservation measures include original interior components as well as the consideration of different stages of construction and interior design as a part of the history of the property.

 Decisions Report
Context of Decision
Themes: Inscriptions on the World Heritage List
States Parties: Australia
Properties: Sydney Opera House
Year: 2007
Decision Code: 31 COM 8B.31