Sydney Opera House - Pop up Cafe & Bar


The Sydney Opera House transcends being a building: Utzon’s sails are embedded deep in the collective unconscious. It’s kind of mythical. I’ve loved it for a very long time, ever since I was a child & then later when studying architecture at Sydney University. One summer I designed a pop up bar to go on the Western Promenade for the month of January. Sometimes a dream job just finds you…


Being a UNESCO heritage building there are many protective regulations in place but for 40 days of the year the rules are relaxed with the Summer at the House program. My intention was to capture and distill the unique flavour of the Sydney summer- that relaxed, casual, abundant feeling. I wanted this bar to be somewhere where people would feel at their absolute best. The colour palette was Indian Red, Turmeric Yellow and Aqua Blue. Hot spicy colours that promised a good time. 


The footprint was 1000 square metres and comprised of a lounge area, bar/kitchen cabana and a pergola where musicians would perform. Even though it looks onto the stunning vista of the city, the Harbour Bridge and passing boats, the actual area in front of the Playhouse is windswept and harsh. An engineer had to certify the structures for a high wind rating. Given that it was only for a month, the strokes had to be broad.


The bar is now dismantled and the show is over.  What lingers the most are the actual nights spent there. Lying on the cushions with friends drinking pina coladas and listening to beautiful live music. The canopy of lights glowing next to the sails. And a couple of times when stepping back and looking up, the thought of the privilege of designing a space, however temporary, at the Sydney Opera House.

Ingrid Weir