Your Excellency Honourable George Souris, Minister for the Arts of the New South Wales Government, Your Excellency Marianne Jelved, Danish Minister for Culture and the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Sydney Ms Clover Moore, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
The Crown Princess and I are, as always, delighted to be back in Australia. And it is an honour for us to be present here today as patrons of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House.
The launch of the student exchange program “MADE by the Opera House” and the opening of the symposium “Architecture makes the City” strengthens, the already strong relationship between our two countries.
When the Danish architect Jørn Utzon was selected for the building of the Sydney Opera House, his winning entry was based on studies of the Danish castle Kronborg at the port of Elsinore in Denmark – where the location directly to the waterfront plays a crucial role.
His ambition was to unite two cultures in one design.
However, the construction of the Sydney Opera House did not happen without fierce public debate between the involved parties. Utzon – claiming indifference as an architect’s worst enemy – took his task seriously. He executed it, understanding that architecture can and will affect the way humans interact in the spatial context created for them.
40 years have passed and today the magnificent Sydney Opera House is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just like Utzon’s inspiration in Elsinore the Kronborg Castle, it is a timeless masterpiece of architecture.
In 1948, prior to Utzon’s winning entry, he had made a unique statement on the nature of architecture:
“It is necessary to be in tune with the age and with the surroundings, to see inspiration in the task itself, if the requirements of that task are to be translated into architectonic language – creating a unity of all the different factors […] At the same time, the architect must have the ability to imagine and to create – an ability that is sometimes called fantasy, sometimes dreams“.
With this in mind, allow me to thank everyone engaged and involved in the visionary exchange program for students that will run over the next ten years.
This exchange program will be an important platform for cross-disciplinary interaction between students within architecture, design and engineering. A platform for great dreams to materialise and a platform to underline the excellent relations between our two countries.
As for the participants in the symposium “Architecture makes the City” – you will continue the challenging task of how architecture and design can shape our collective cultural imagination and the cities in which it thrives.
I encourage Australian and Danish architects and designers to keep challenging our understanding of the importance of renewed cultural investment in the city.
I wish you a very inspiring symposium.