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In search of the philosopher’s stone: alchemy, ARM and the Sydney Opera House
conference contributionposted on 2016-07-09, 00:00 authored by Cristina Garduno Freeman, V Liebowitz
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.