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Failure of Sydney Opera House


Sydney Opera House failure is considered as one of the world’s biggest planning disaster in spite of being a masterpiece of the twentieth century and one of the most famous iconic buildings. It is a multi-venue art performing centre in South Wales. This project was begun in 1959 and was originally scheduled for competition within four years but it took 14 years to construct the entire building. The major cause of this failure was that the client did not give any details about the design and cost specifications, as a result, the project was being overshadowed by cost and time overruns. The project was completed in 1973 with a final cost of AUS $102 million(Sydney Opera House n.d.). It was a disastrous construction both in terms of financial and management perspective in spite of these facts it is still considered as an architectural achievement. This project has left many learning legacies for future projects in the world. It has been identified through this effective communication and stakeholder management play a very significant role in the delivery of mega projects. It also helped to realise that during construction there are several challenges which if properly managed can give favourable outcomes.

Problems or issues identified in the effective project management

Sydney Opera House was an unmitigated failure because of several issues in effective project management. The project stopped due to lack of monetary support; as a result, it was observed that in order to complete the project state government of Sydney supported the construction by creating a committee(Jennings et al. 2018). The committee decided to set up an appeal fund so as to raise money for construction purposes.  In spite of the appeal fund, the government was not able to raise enough money for the construction of the project.The government came up with a lottery system that raises money for the construction of the site. It was further identified that the project failed because of ineffective project management strategies. It was evaluated that stakeholders were unhappy with the construction process because the construction plan of the architecture was not thoroughly planned, designed, organized, led and controlled. It was observed that inadequate planning resulted in the reconstruction of the Opera House roof. Through analysis, it was identified that the roofing material used was made from pre-cast material and the concrete sections of the roof were accompanied by glazed tiles (Yaneva, 2016). Roof shells of the structure were too heavy for the supporting column, as a result, they were demolished and rebuilt. This kind of mistakes was the main cause of increasing cost and time. The constructor of the project did not critically analyse the land and resources available to them and without any proper planning, he started the construction process.

The rationale of the study

It is important to understand the failure of the Sydney Opera house construction because it is one of the projects that were competed creatively in spite of all the odds. It is the best example to seek reference and learn some important lessons from its failures (Nalewaik and Mills 2016). It will help the project managers to learn and explore from its constructions because it is one of the most famous and uniquely designed buildings in Australia. It will help in comprehending that good project predominantly depends on the initial planning, financial assessment, evolution processes and so on.This study will help to formulate a strategy for the vital success of the project. It will also ascertain the project manager to define achievable goals (Love et al. 2018). It will also help to determine the fact that cost of the project must be kept in mind before starting the project because cost of a project directly affect the success or failure possibilities. It will help in better preparing for the financial obstacles in future projects. The most beneficial part of the failure of the construction project is that it will give others an opportunity to understand weakness and also determine some strength due to which Sydney Opera House is regarded as one of the most beautiful architecture in the world. This study will also ascertain about the fact that communication strategy play a very important role since the beginning of the project (Yap et al. 2017). The study also laid focus on understanding all the stakeholders and manages the resources available in the best possible manner. In addition to all the things above, the study will also emphasize on evaluating the progress of the project on a regular basis. No doubt the failed project became seed of the future successful projects.

The aim of the Research

The aim of this research is to evaluate the project failure of Sydney Opera House and provide a researchmethodology plan in order to critical analysis the failures and developing solution to the given problem.

Research Questions

Primary and secondary research questions for the Sydney Opera House construction include the following things.

Primary questions:

  • Why Sydney Opera house is one of the biggest planning disasters in history?
  • What were the reasons behind the failure of the construction project?
  • Which factors led to the delay in time and increased the cost of the construction project?
  • Why it one of the most over budget projects in the world?

Secondary questions:

  • What lessons can be learned from the failure of Sydney Opera house? 
  • Why the terms accountability and responsibility were questioned in the project?
  • How the project was divided into three stages of constructions? 
  • What was the mapping controversies related to the project?

Project Scope

The scope of the study is to understand and critically evaluate the factors responsible for the project failure of Sydney Opera house in Australia. 


Literature Review

A literature review is one of an important concept in the research study as it helps in focusing on the objectives of the study. It is generally used to identify the existing gap in the current literature and how will it be addressed in future studies.
Beck (2016) stated that time, budget and quality of the project was insufficient to complete the entire architecture within the assigned budget and within a limited period of time. It was further identified that time delay and the increasing cost was not the main factors responsible for project failure. According to him, project trade-offs and wrong decision in the delay were the reason behind its failure. 
Larson and Gray (2011) identified that the project scope of the Sydney Opera house was not clearly mentioned anywhere. They further stated that the project priorities of the construction were not defined.  Criteria of time and cost were implicitly accepted. It was also analysed that the project constructor was ready to tolerate the time and cost delay just to meet the other criteria of the project that is the quality of the design.  In addition to this, the researcher further stated that the project design of the construction project was not decided. Wrong decisions of the stakeholders and project constructor resulted in the failure of its construction. 
Sanchez et al. (2015)stated that communication gap was one of the main reasons for the failure. The researchers stated that for creating a successful project an open and clear communication is required. In the case of the Sydney Opera house, there was a lack in the communication gap. Important information regarding the resources and finance was not communicated to the project constructor properly. This is the reason that despite the magnificent architecture of the project it is still regarded in the circle of management failure. 

Research Methodology

Research methodology is a science of study of how research is going to be done and how to perform different research operations. It is a process to select and analyse a design for conducting intensive research over the construction project of Sydney opera house to investigate its failure causes. It is used to evaluate the Sydney opera house case study over validity and reliability(Mackey and Gass 2015).  There are different types of research design among them case study design will be selected as it is a project management case.  It is because the data will be collected in descriptive as well as numerical form. The cost analysis of the project will be done using a quantitative research method. The data will be collected from scholarly journals, books, articles, magazines and so on. Secondary data collection method will be used. Critical analysis will be done to evaluate and investigate reasons and causes behind the failure of the Sydney Opera House. Case method will be used for discussion purpose.

Unit of analysis: A case study approach of opera house

A case study is a research strategy used to investigate a phenomenon, incident or real life context problems. It is an in depth investigation of the things which might have occurred in past. In this research, we are going to take the case study approach of Opera House.
Data collection 1st article to know the situation then we read the journalarticle then suggest the solution 
The research plan is also known as a timeline review of the activities that will be undertaken in the project. It gives a clear idea about the progress of the project through graphical representation. Some of the covered in the research plan include problem identification, literature review, research design and methodology, critical analysis and final submission of the project. It is a small tool that outlines the entire thoughts of the research in a very concise manner(Slack, 2015). I help in reaching the expected outcome of the project by keeping a track on the activities. It gives a brief description of how the research is going to be conducted and when will it be completed.  It even states some of the goals of the project which are going to be accomplished.  In other words, the research plan is a structure of the entire study. It provides a direction or a path to conduct the construction research of Sydney Opera house. It also provides orderliness to complete the research. Research plan will use a project priority matrix to decide on which task must be focused first. It is one of the most suitable methods to organize the entire task visually. It will also help in tracking the progress report of the construction project.

Expected Outcome 

The research will successfully state the causes and factors responsible for the project. It will be beneficial for us to understand the mistakes which occurred in building a mega project. This study will help in critically analysing the delay in time and increased the cost of the project. It will also help in comprehending the fact Sydney opera house is an acoustic disaster in the construction industry(Nalewaik and Mills 2016).  It will help to understand that a project must always start with an idea and ends with the implementation of that idea.


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