The original seating plan for the Sydney Opera House would not just have been uncomfortable, it would have been illegal, according to recently discovered interviews with the man who succeeded the original architect in the job.
Australian Peter Hall was appointed design architect for the Opera House in 1966, when Danish architect Jorn Utzon resigned after a change of government in New South Wales saw his designs, schedules and cost estimates questioned.
Utzon left the country at the end of April 1966 with his family, never to return to see his masterpiece again.
Now, in an interview that only recently emerged over 40 years after it was recorded, Peter Hall says Utzon’s seating plan would never have been licensed by authorities: “I got asked to do something which, on reflection, was close to impossible. And I’m certainly not sure that if I were offered it again now, I would take it on.”
Hall says the seats were too small and the space between the rows was insufficient for people to exit the auditorium safely in an emergency.
Recorded by the National Library in 1973, the year the Opera House opened, the audio interview was not for release at the time.
The recordings reveal the thankless job faced by Hall, the man who brought the iconic landmark back from the brink of a political and architectural crisis.