Sydney Opera House Accessibility Upgrade

It’s an amazing improvement from the previous wheelchair access through the kitchens and utility tunnels, and it’s good to finally see it happen since it was planned in 2003. Major architectural changes to landmark buildings aren’t built in a day, I guess.

This news story focuses only on wheelchair accessibility, which is natural enough since the accessibility ambassador is Louise Sauvage, but obviously the changes will also benefit other PWD who find stairs difficult, and will also be much easier for those who find crowds unsafe for them.

Jan Utzon accompanied Olympian Louise Sauvage on the first public lift in the building (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)
Image source ABC Online

Jan Utzon accompanied Olympian Louise Sauvage on the first public lift in the building (AAP: Tracey Nearmy)

Kudos to the Brisbane Times sub-editor for the title too – “for those less mobile”. Puts the emphasis on exactly which type of disability is being addressed rather than lumping “the disabled” all together.

Categories: arts & entertainment

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6 replies

  1. Sounds great! Here’s hoping the parking is better too. My in-laws had to book disabled parking when they renewed their season booking, but even so they would be informed that they only had parking reserved for most, not all, of the performances they booked because of the demand.

  2. There have been a lot of complaints over here in Adelaide that eminated out of the recent Andre Rieu concert at the Entertainment Centre.
    Apparently the wheelchair-accessible seats are all located at the back of the arena and to get to the front seats, you need to walk down a long flight of stairs.
    For this particular concert there were a number of elderly people in walking frames or wheelchairs. Some in walking frames paid a considerable sum of money for good seats near the front, only to be told once they got there that they had to negotiate stairs to get to them – or stay up the back and miss out on a good view.
    Apparently there was a load of walking frames crammed at the back of the auditorium and these elderly people needed to be helped to and from their seats – there is no toilets at arena level either, so if anyone needed to go, they had to negotiate the steps again. Also (and quite appallingly) staff admitted to one patron that, in the event of a fire on this night, they would struggle to get everyone out in time …
    In case you were wondering why they don’t have a lift specifically intended to transport mobility-restricted people to take them down to arena level (and the good seats) – there is. On this night, however, the patrons were told it was for Andre Rieu’s exclusive use.
    Needless to say, a lot of people came away that night as unimpressed with him as the Centre itself.

    • @ Lynda Hopgood,
      I’m still boggling at the Andre Rieu story. I guess it’s just possible that having a lift reserved for his exclusive use is a standard request on his list, and his people made the request and the Centre acquiesced without anybody saying “hey, that’s our only lift – what about our mobility-impaired patrons?”. I’d like to think that if he had been informed that he would be blocking access to the only lift, that he wouldn’t have insisted. But maybe he really is that much of a jackass.

  3. A bit of snark from Elizabeth Farrelly on the whole architectural effectiveness of the Sydney Opera House as an actual opera house (the accessibility renovations are only one part of a revamp):

    the Sydney Opera House is an undeniably glorious object, the internal experience of which is about as transcendental as speech day in the school hall. Opera houses are inescapably bourgeois, almost by definition, but they needn’t be petit bourgeois.
    Some of this may be blamed on Peter Hall, Davis Hughes and the rest. But much of it, in fact, was inherent in the glorious idea; as was the inimicality to opera. And this is the irony, for this is what modernism said it would never, ever do; promote form over content.

  4. That’s awesome! As someone with a mobility problem due to vertigo (going down stairs/escalators/steep ramps is a problem on a bad day or if I’ve just been in the car, going up stairs is fine) it’s really awesome to see this kind of inclusivity in a major public space.

  5. Yay for some good news.

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