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New 3D Sydney Opera House unveiled for its 40th Anniversary

14 November 2013

3D Sydney Opera House

New 3D Sydney Opera House unveiled for its 40th Anniversary

Innovative Scottish project offers a new 21st Century perspective on world-famous landmark

A landmark Scottish heritage project has delivered a precise, 3D model of Australia’s most famous building as part of the Opera House’s 40th Anniversary.

Exact to within 6 millimetres, the Scottish Ten 3D model provides vital conservation and maintenance data as the Opera House enters a decade of renewal. The new virtual Opera House will also be invaluable in terms of opening the world’s busiest performing arts centre up to people wherever they are and whenever they would like to visit.

In April 2013, a team of digital-documentation experts from the Scottish Ten project took more than 800 laser scans of the interior and exterior of the Opera House, and 56,000 digital photos, documenting 13 billion measurable points on the structure using cutting-edge, laser-mapping technologies.

The Scottish Ten is anambitious, five-year collaboration between specialists in heritage digital documentation at Historic Scotland, experts in 3D visualisation at The Glasgow School of Art’s Digital Design Studio and not-for-profit digital heritage organisation CyArk.

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007, the Opera House joins Mount Rushmore in the US, India’s Rani ki Vav (The Queen's Stepwell) and China’s Eastern Qing Tombs as one of five international heritage sites to be preserved for posterity, alongside five Scottish World Heritage sites. The fifth international site has yet to be chosen.

The Scottish Ten 3D model, and accompanying fly-through showreel provides whole new perspectives on a building that has not until now been viewable in its entirety at ground level.

The 3D model is showcased in a short film released today in Sydney.

Opened by Queen Elizabeth II in October 1973, the Sydney Opera House is the ninth of ten buildings to be documented for the Scottish Ten and the only one from the 20th century.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Sydney Opera House is one of the world's most recognisable buildings and an icon of 20th century architecture. What better way for Scotland to help mark the 40th Anniversary of this iconic structure than by lending our world-class expertise in the field of digital scanning to help safeguard its future.

“This innovative collaboration will reinforce the already strong heritage and cultural links between Scotland and Australia. I offer my congratulations to the Sydney Opera House on this major milestone and wish it a successful 40th Anniversary year and beyond.”

Sydney Opera House Chief Executive Louise Herron said: “When the Scottish Ten came to us with the idea of creating an exact 3-D rendering of the Opera House, I knew how valuable that information would be in our conservation efforts. But I was astonished by its potential to help us in many other ways. We will use it in our education programs and to engage with new audiences online. People will be able to explore the Opera House no matter where they are. We already have applications in development for public release during our 40th Anniversary year.”

New South Wales Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, said: “The Sydney Opera House is our most valuable cultural and tourism asset. The Scottish Ten’s digital rendering will prove invaluable in preserving and renewing the Opera House for future generationsof artists, audiences and visitors. It’s the perfect 40th Anniversary present.”

For more information,

Showreel download:
The full high-resolution animation can be downloaded here

Images of the project and the team undertaking the scanning are available on request.

Notes for editors

1.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. For more information visit

2.Register for media release email alerts from If you wish to unsubscribe at any time, please email For Scottish Ten news follow @scottishten and for GSA media alerts, follow @gsofa.

3.Historic Scotland around the web:,

4. 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.

5 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

6. 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.

7. 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors tocelebrate 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

8. Keep up to date with Historic Scotland regular Year of Natural Scotland blog by visiting:

For further information on the work of the Digital Design Studio at The Glasgow School of Art contact: Lesley Booth. Mobile: 0779 941 4474, Email:

For further information

John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827