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Architect Says Opera House Inspired by a Peeled Orange

October 31, 1992 GMT

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) _ The designer of the Sydney Opera House says the building’s unique white shells were inspired by a peeled orange.

Danish architect Jorn Utzon, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald published today, dismissed the widely held assumption that his design was based on the sails of yachts on picturesque Sydney Harbor, which the building overlooks.

″It is like an orange,″ said the 74-year-old Utzon. ″You peel an orange and you get these segments ... (which are) similar shapes.″

The Opera House was completed in 1973 but not as Utzon, who now lives in Spain, had intended.

Utzon, commissioned in 1957 after winning an international design contest, left the project nine years later during a spat with the New South Wales government over soaring construction costs and delays.

There were also fears that his radical concept could not be completed. After his departure, major alterations were made to the original design.

Utzon, who has rarely spoken about the subject for two decades, said he was the victim of political infighting and was treated like ″a common criminal″ when he left Australia.

He remains convinced his plans would have worked. Utzon rejected criticism of his design as ″folly,″ comparing it to the Egyptian pyramids.

″People talk about how the Pyramids were built and how marvellous they were,″ he said. ″But this was exactly the same thing, with industrial techniques, with fantastic constructions which were being invented.″

″And it was happening there in Australia ... and nobody seemed to care, nobody knew,″ he said.