Sydney Opera House Shells

by Martin Jefferd

I have been asked to write a quiz about Australia when I visit my son who lives there. My question to you is this: How many "shells" does the opera house roof have?


That's an interesting question, Martin. If you refer to shells as the large structures that look like sails, then I would say there are 10:

opera house sydney - bennelong point

Sydney Opera House - Bennelong Point

  • there are two sets of 3 larger shells facing the water, which means six large ones;

  • backing them are 2 medium shells, which are facing the forecourt;

  • there is a separate structure of 2 small shells near the monumental steps of the platform.

This makes 10 shells altogether. The larger shells house the concert hall, the opera, the theatres. The small shells house a restaurant.

Read here more quick Sydney Opera House facts.

Have a look at the images and you will see that there are several other 'wings' connecting the shell structures.

opera house sydney

The building of the opera house was an extremely complex exercise. The initial design by Jorn Utzon proved impossible to build so there were many changes along the way. The final shape of the roof was based on spherical segments and technically speaking there are 2,194 pre-cast concrete sections in the roof, covered with over 1 million ceramic tiles.

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