Sydney Opera House Forecourt, Sydney, Australia

Client: Sydney Opera House Trust

Architect: Scott Carver

About the Project

NDYLIGHT was appointed to the VAPS project in June 2010, specifically to design the illumination of the forecourt area, and the Tarpeian Cliff (the rock wall lining the southern side of the forecourt). 

The main task was to light the forecourt. The existing lighting comprised three aged metal halide fittings on a 30 metre pole on the south-eastern corner of the forecourt; and an equally aged metal halide fitting on each ‘node’ of the shells. The lighting levels were patchy and in fact very low at the primary Macquarie Street approach. Flexibility was a required asset, to give Sydney Opera House the ability to switch and dim the lighting to suit the various events to be held in the space. 

Jan Utzon was heavily involved in the decision-making process at this time. One of his requirements was that the lighting creates a ‘desire line’ mimicking the natural path pedestrians took from Macquarie Street to the concert hall – in other words, a brighter patch diagonally across the forecourt and up the steps.  

The forecourt lighting achieves the aim of not overwhelming the view of the house and providing a safe, soft, low level of light across a large area.  

The forecourt is now the most popular selfie spot in Sydney!