Jørn Utzon

Jørn Utzon ( 1918 – 2008) was a Danish architect, and probably one of the worlds most celebrated architects ind the last half of the 20’th century.

He was born in Copenhagen as the son of a naval engineer, and grew up in Denmark. In 1957 he won the competition for a new opera house in Sydney, Australia. In the following years, Utzon gradually developed a way to construct the

large shells that cover the two halls.

He also had spectacular plans for the interior of these halls, but due to political changes, the newly elected state government of New South Wales suddenly stopped the payments to Utzon and he had to leave the country in 1966, leaving the unfinished project behind. He never returned to Australia since.

The Sydney Opera House was finally completed in 1973 and is one of the world’s most recognizable buildings.

In March 2003, Utzon was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work on the Opera House by the University of Sydney. Utzon’s son accepted the award on his behalf as he himself was too ill to come to Australia. The last few years of his life he was involved in redesigning the house, and in particular, the reception hall, following an agreement made in 2000.

Utzon was chosen as the 2003 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. This prestigious honor is widely considered to be the ”Nobel Prize” for architecture.

Among other of Jørn Utzon’s projects are: Planetstaden housing project – Lund, Sweden (1958) – Kingohusene housing project – Elsinore (1960), The Kuwait Assembly Hall (1972), Can Lis – Mallorca (1972), Bagsværd Church – Copenhagen (1976), The Paustian Furniture Store – Copenhagen (1987), Can Feliz – Mallorca (1995).

Utzon mainly found his inspiration in the very basic structures of nature, the local cultural traditions and roots, the building site and its given view, light, wind and weather. Utzons buildings always unified a complex task in a seemingly effortless way that makes them appear as an utmost natural thing, even grown on and out of the site itself. This architectural quality and refined philosophy of Utzon has provided many of his buildings with a timelessness that has made them an important part of the 20’th century’s architectural legacy.