Which famous landmark uses its nearby harbor to power its heating and air-conditioning system?
And the answer: Sydney Opera House.
The Opera House's heating and air-conditioning system is powered by cold seawater pulled directly from the Sydney Harbor. Whenever the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performs at the Concert Hall, the temperature must be kept at 72.5 °F (22.5 °C) in order to keep the musicians' instruments in tune.
Alongside its innovation in green power sources, the Sydney Opera House is known for its longstanding cultural contributions to Sydney, and Australia as a whole. Since its debut in 1973, the Sydney Opera House has become Australia's number one tourist destination and a landmark which promotes culture, music and community. Indeed, in the words of New South Wales Premier Joesph Cahill in 1954, the Sydney Opera House was built to “help mould a better and more enlightened community.” And, with over 10.9 million visitors each year, the Opera House continues to do just that.
Located along the picturesque Sydney Harbor, the site of the Sydney Opera House was chosen with intention. The original caretakers of the coastal region were Aboriginal tribes who thrived off of the rich resources afforded by the river. Oysters, mussels, fish, possums, wallabies, kangaroos and many edible plants provided sustenance for Aboriginal Australians, and the region quickly became known as a meeting ground and sacred site to share food, dance and stories.
Scandinavian artist and architect Jørn Utzon would later pay homage to this harbor-side site in his final design of the Opera House. Like many architects, Jørn Utzon had initially entered the competition to design Sydney’s opera house to exercise his ideas. Yet, upon winning, it became clear that Utzon had a vision which had masterfully fused craft traditions and ancient architecture with modernist thinking. Echoing the sails of the ships in the harbor and the nearby Sydney cliffs, Utzon's design forever pays its respects to the history and future of Australia.
Learn more about the construction and legacy of the Sydney Opera House here.