In search of the philosopher’s stone: alchemy, ARM and the Sydney Opera House

Garduño Freeman, Cristina and Leibowitz, Vicki (2016). In search of the philosopher’s stone: alchemy, ARM and the Sydney Opera House. In: AnnMarie Brennan and Philip Goad, Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 33, Gold. Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) Annual Conference, Melbourne, Australia, (200-207). 6-9 July 2016.

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Name Description MIMEType Size Downloads
Author Garduño Freeman, Cristina
Leibowitz, Vicki
Title of paper In search of the philosopher’s stone: alchemy, ARM and the Sydney Opera House
Conference name Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand (SAHANZ) Annual Conference
Conference location Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates 6-9 July 2016
Proceedings title Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 33, Gold
Place of Publication Melbourne, Australia
Publisher SAHANZ
Publication Year 2016
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 9780734052650
Editor AnnMarie Brennan
Philip Goad
Volume 33
Start page 200
End page 207
Total pages 8
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
Since the Middle Ages, alchemists sought the Philosopher’s Stone; a mythical elixir of life and longevity and essential for – chrysopoeia – the transmutation of lead to gold, of base metals to noble ones.

The Sydney Opera House is widely regarded within the discipline of architecture as a ‘flawed masterpiece;’ its iconic exterior celebrated as Sydney’s golden architectural icon, while the interiors by Peter Hall, are largely criticised as the leaden cousins of the building’s original major and minor hall designs. Like the mythical Philosopher’s Stone, Jørn Utzon’s designs for the interior of the building remained elusive until Unseen Utzon (1994/5). This exhibition revealed the major hall (now the Concert Hall) as an expanse lined with gold and red-radiating waves, and the minor hall (now the Opera Theatre) awash in silver and blue, an apparition of Uzton’s genius and completion of his original vision.

After four decades the Sydney Opera House is undergoing renewal to ensure its longevity. The elixir is Ashton Raggat McDougall (ARM), a firm synonymous with Melbourne architecture, who will redesign the Concert Hall. Ashton Raggatt McDougall are Australia’s most eminent contemporary architects. Their work, while often controversial, is characterised by a cerebral criticality that draws on iconic, populist and theoretical imagery. Drawing Melbourne’s most controversial architects into Sydney’s architectural masterpiece proffers an explosive encounter. ARM are tasked with the responsibility of transforming the interior of the Opera House, from ‘base’ to beautiful; a highly charged and symbolic act. This task challenges the immutability of the icon and its contested authorship. We seek to explore the tensions inherent in this act of alchemy. This paper examines iconic transmutation and the potential transformation of the Sydney Opera House.
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes http://sahanz2016.msd.unimelb.edu.au/papers/Garduno_Freeman_Leibowitz_In-Search-of-the-Philosophers-Stone.pdf

 
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Created: Fri, 23 Dec 2016, 01:24:03 EST by Anthony Yeates on behalf of School of Architecture