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New 3D Sydney Opera House scanning now underway

18 April 2013

Sydney Opera House is being surveyed inside and out by a team of laser scanning experts from Scotland to create an extraordinarily detailed, 3D model of Australia’s most famous building.

The Scottish Ten – an ambitious five-year collaboration between Historic Scotland, experts in 3D visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and not-for-profit digital heritage organisation CyArk – are capturing the Opera House during April using cutting-edge laser-mapping technology. The innovative, interactive rendering will be delivered in time for the Opera House’s 40th anniversary celebrations in October.

Appropriately, the Scottish Ten project’s visit finds them at the Opera House on World Heritage Day (International Day for Monuments and Sites) – 18 April and the first digital scans of the site have been issued giving a new perspective on this iconic structure.

The Opera House joins Mount Rushmore, India’s Rani ki Vav (The Queen's Stepwell) and China’s Eastern Qing Tombs as one of five international and five Scottish UNESCO-inscribed, World Heritage sites to be preserved for posterity.

The project will provide the Opera House, the only modern structure included, with comprehensive building-management and conservation data, together with a vital resource to assist its ambitions as a leader in education and learning and to help improve the experience of the Opera House’s 8.2 million visitors a year.

Cabinet Secretary Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Sydney Opera House truly is one of the world’s most iconic buildings and I am delighted that a team from Scotland is using their expertise to digitally record it as part of the Scottish Ten. Last year, when I announced the Opera House as the fourth international site in this ground-breaking project I knew it would be a fascinating addition to the Scottish Ten and a fitting gesture for its 40th anniversary. The inclusion of the Opera House will help strengthen the historic and cultural links between Scotland and Australia ahead of our Year of Homecoming in 2014. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of the laser scanning and the benefits it will deliver.”

NSW Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris said: “I am delighted that the much anticipated Scottish Ten project is underway. The digital documentation of Sydney’s most renowned building, admired around the world, will provide us with invaluable, detailed information vital to the conservation of the Opera House for future generations. I look forward to seeing the results later this year.”  

Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Louise Herron added: “It is a great accolade that the Scottish Ten project selected the Opera House as its only 20th Century building. This extraordinary virtual Opera House will be vital to both preserving the building and helping it to evolve. In line with our broader embrace of new technology through our partnerships with Samsung and Google, the Scottish Ten’s virtual Opera House will also provide us with an unparalleled opportunity to engage with new audiences in entirely new ways.”

Federal Minister for Environment and Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke said: “The Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most recognised buildings, and an important World Heritage place. It is not just a symbol of Australia’s cultural and artistic excellence but to many it is also a symbol of Australia itself. I am delighted and honoured that the Sydney Opera House has been included in this innovative project. This project will help capture the form and beauty of the building itself and make more people want to see and experience this world heritage site first hand. But nothing will ever capture the grandeur of Bennelong Point short of people visiting Sydney Harbour itself.”

For more information, visit: www.scottishten.org/property9

Notes for editors:

  • Scottish Ten scan UNESCO World Heritage-listed masterpiece, the only modern building included in this historic, global project

  • Innovative, international project contributes to the regeneration of the Opera House

  • First images of laser scanning project released on International Day for Monuments and Sites

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.


  • The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is internationally recognised as one of  Europe's foremost higher education institutions for creative education and research in fine art, design and architecture. The Digital Design Studio (DDS) is a world leading research and postgraduate centre of the GSA specialising in 3D digital visualisation and interaction technologies,. It combines academic, research and commercial activities. The experts at the Digital Design Studio are currently creating the 3D scans for the widely admired Scottish Ten as a partner in the CDDV. Other areas of DDS research include ground-breaking medical visualization, Marine Visualization and Auralisation and sound. www.gsa.ac.uk/research/research-centres/digital-design-studio

  • CyArk is a non-profit entity whose mission is to digitally preserve cultural heritage sites through collecting, archiving and providing open access to data created by laser scanning, digital modelling, and other state-of-the-art technologies. For more information visit www.cyark.org

  • The World Heritage listed Sydney Opera House welcomes over 8.2 million visitors on site every year   and hosts 1,800 performances attended by 1.4 million people. It is one of the world’s busiest cultural precincts. Keep up to date with Sydney Opera House on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at www.visitscotland.com/natural


Historic Scotland around the web:
www.twitter.com/welovehistory
www.facebook.com/visithistoricscotland
www.youtube.com/historicscotlandtv
www.flickr.com/groups/makeyourownhistory

                                                       Year of Natural Scotland logo linking to www.visitscotland.com/natural

For further information


John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827
john.macneil@scotland.gsi.gov.uk