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Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 11:20 GMT
Architect returns to Opera House plans
Sydney Opera house
Sydney Opera House attracts thousands of visitors each year
The Danish architect behind the Sydney Opera House has been drafted in to work on a multi-million dollar makeover - despite never seeing the finished landmark.

Joern Utzon originally won a competition to design a building for Sydney harbour in the mid-1950s.

But as the project went over budget and over deadline a row broke out which led to architect walking out, vowing never to return.

But Mr Utzon has agreed to work on designs for the renovation of the interior, although he will not travel to Australia.

The 83-year-old is too frail to travel and the designs will be taken to his home in Majorca.

The New South Wales state government has earmarked AUS$24.1m (8.9m) to improve the interior of the Opera House.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House took 15 years to build
Mr Utzon spent eight years working on the Opera House after winning but quit in 1966, disgusted with money-saving changes made to his visionary masterpiece.

Final bill

Construction for the massive project started in 1959 and was expected to take four years to complete, with a budget of AUS$7m (2.6m)

But it actually took nearly 15 years to finish and the final bill came in at AUS$100m (37.2m)

State Premier Bob Carr said the planned improvements were being undertaken to entice more local and international visitors.

The work will include improving access to the building's entrance, allowing it to be used as a separate performance space as well as extending the orchestra pit.

Acoustics in the auditorium will also be addressed.

"All work will be done in consultation with the building's original architect Joern Utzon, whose return to the project after 35 years marks a historic moment for both the Sydney Opera House and the people of Australia," Mr Carr said.

See also:

25 Jun 01 | Wales
Unique domes demolition begins
24 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Sydney's opera rebellion
07 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Honour for Sydney Opera House designer
16 Feb 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
Subterranean Sydney
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