Jørn Utzon

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Jørn Utzon
Jorn Utzon 2000 by Ole Haupt.jpg
Jørn Utzon in 2000
Born(1918-04-09)9 April 1918
Died29 November 2008(2008-11-29) (aged 90)
Helsingør, Denmark
NationalityDanish
Alma mater Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts
OccupationArchitect
Awards Pritzker Prize
Buildings Sydney Opera House, Bagsværd Church, Kuwait National Assembly Building

Jørn Oberg Utzon, AC , Hon. FAIA (Danish:  [jɶɐ̯n ˈudsʌn] ; 9 April 1918 29 November 2008) [1] was a Danish architect, most notable for designing the Sydney Opera House in Australia. When it was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, Utzon became only the second person to have received such recognition for one of his works during his lifetime, after Oscar Niemeyer. [2] Other noteworthy works include Bagsværd Church near Copenhagen and the National Assembly Building in Kuwait. He also made important contributions to housing design, especially with his Kingo Houses near Helsingør.

Honorary Fellowship of the American Institute of Architects(Hon. FAIA) may be awarded to foreign architects and for non-architects who have made great contributions to the field of architecture or to the American Institute of Architects. The program was developed as the international counterpart to the AIA Fellowship program for US citizens or architects working primarily out of the US.

Sydney Opera House multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is one of the 20th century's most famous and distinctive buildings.

World Heritage Site place listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or natural significance

A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. The sites are judged important to the collective interests of humanity.

Contents

Early life and career

Utzon was born in Copenhagen, the son of a naval architect, and grew up in Aalborg, Denmark, where he became interested in ships and a possible naval career. [3] As a result of his family's interest in art, from 1937 he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under Kay Fisker and Steen Eiler Rasmussen. Following his graduation in 1942, he joined Gunnar Asplund in Stockholm where he worked together with Arne Jacobsen and Poul Henningsen. [4] He took a particular interest in the works of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. [5] After the end of World War II and the German Occupation of Denmark, he returned to Copenhagen.

Copenhagen Capital of Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital and most populous city of Denmark. As of July 2018, the city has a population of 777,218. It forms the core of the wider urban area of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen metropolitan area. Copenhagen is situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand; another small portion of the city is located on Amager, and is separated from Malmö, Sweden, by the strait of Øresund. The Øresund Bridge connects the two cities by rail and road.

Aalborg City in North Denmark Region, Denmark

Aalborg, is Denmark's fourth largest city with an urban population of 136,000, including 22,000 in the twin city Nørresundby 600 metres (2,000 ft) across the Limfjord. With a population of 215,379, the Municipality of Aalborg is the third most populous in the country after Copenhagen and Aarhus. By road Aalborg is 64 kilometres (40 mi) southwest of Frederikshavn, and 118 kilometres (73 mi) north of Aarhus. The distance to Copenhagen is 412 kilometres (256 mi).

Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts art school in Denmark

The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts has provided education in the arts for more than 250 years, playing its part in the development of the art of Denmark.

In 1946 he visited Alvar Aalto in Helsinki. In 1947–48 he travelled in Europe, in 1948 he went to Morocco where he was taken by the tall clay buildings. In 1949, he travelled to the United States and Mexico, where the pyramids provided further inspiration. Fascinated by the way the Mayans built towards the sky to get closer to God, he commented that his time in Mexico was "One of the greatest architectural experiences in my life." [6]

Alvar Aalto Finnish architect and designer

Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was a Finnish architect and designer. His work includes architecture, furniture, textiles and glassware, as well as sculptures and paintings, though he never regarded himself as an artist, seeing painting and sculpture as "branches of the tree whose trunk is architecture." Aalto's early career runs in parallel with the rapid economic growth and industrialization of Finland during the first half of the twentieth century and many of his clients were industrialists; among these were the Ahlström-Gullichsen family. The span of his career, from the 1920s to the 1970s, is reflected in the styles of his work, ranging from Nordic Classicism of the early work, to a rational International Style Modernism during the 1930s to a more organic modernist style from the 1940s onwards. What is typical for his entire career, however, is a concern for design as a Gesamtkunstwerk, a total work of art; whereby he – together with his first wife Aino Aalto – would design not just the building, but give special treatments to the interior surfaces and design furniture, lamps, and furnishings and glassware. His furniture designs are considered Scandinavian Modern, in the sense of a concern for materials, especially wood, and simplification but also technical experimentation, which led to him receiving patents for various manufacturing processes, such as bent wood. The Alvar Aalto Museum, designed by Aalto himself, is located in what is regarded as his home city Jyväskylä.

Morocco country in North Africa

Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, is a country located in the Maghreb region of North West Africa with an area of 710,850 km2 (274,460 sq mi). Its capital is Rabat, the largest city Casablanca. It overlooks the Mediterranean Sea to the north and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Morocco claims the areas of Ceuta, Melilla and Peñón de Vélez de la Gomera, all of them under Spanish jurisdiction.

Mexico country in the southern portion of North America

Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico. Covering almost 2,000,000 square kilometres (770,000 sq mi), the nation is the fifth largest country in the Americas by total area and the 13th largest independent state in the world. With an estimated population of over 120 million people, the country is the eleventh most populous state and the most populous Spanish-speaking state in the world, while being the second most populous nation in Latin America after Brazil. Mexico is a federation comprising 31 states and Mexico City, a special federal entity that is also the capital city and its most populous city. Other metropolises in the state include Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla, Toluca, Tijuana and León.

In America, he visited Frank Lloyd Wright's home, Taliesin West, in the Arizona desert [7] and met Charles and Ray Eames. [6] In 1950 he established his own studio in Copenhagen [8] and, in 1952, built an open-plan house for himself, the first of its kind in Denmark. In 1957, he travelled first to China (where he was particularly interested in the Chinese desire for harmony), Japan (where he learnt much about the interaction between interiors and exteriors) and India, before arriving in Australia in 1957 where he stayed until 1966. [5] All this contributed to Utzon's understanding of factors which contribute to successful architectural design. [9]

Taliesin West building

Taliesin West was architect Frank Lloyd Wright's winter home and school in the desert from 1937 until his death in 1959 at the age of 91. Today it is the main campus of the School of Architecture at Taliesin and houses the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona, one of the Four Corners states, is bordered by New Mexico to the east, Utah to the north, Nevada and California to the west, and Mexico to the south, as well as the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona's border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.

Charles and Ray Eames American designers

Charles Ormond Eames, Jr. (1907–1978) and Bernice Alexandra "Ray" Kaiser Eames (1912–1988) were an American design married couple who made significant historical contributions to the development of modern architecture and furniture through the work of The Eames Office. Among their most well-known designs is the Eames Lounge Chair. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art, and film. Charles was the mouthpiece and public face of the Eames Office but Ray and Charles worked together as creative partners and employed a diverse creative staff.

Architectural approach

Utzon had a Nordic sense of concern for nature which, in his design, emphasized the synthesis of form, material and function for social values. His fascination with the architectural legacies of the ancient Mayas, the Islamic world, China and Japan enhanced his vision. [10] This developed into what Utzon later referred to as Additive Architecture, comparing his approach to the growth patterns of nature. [11] A design can grow like a tree, he explained: "If it grows naturally, the architecture will look after itself." [9]

Additive Architecture

Additive Architecture is an approach used by Danish architect Jørn Utzon to describe his development of architectural projects on the basis of growth patterns in nature.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House SydneyOperaHouse.jpg
Sydney Opera House

In 1957, Utzon unexpectedly won the competition to design the Sydney Opera House. His submission was one of 233 designs from 32 countries, many of them from the most famous architects of the time. [6] Although he had won six other architectural competitions previously, the Opera House was his first non-domestic project. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, described it as "genius" and declared he could not endorse any other choice. [7]

An architectural design competition is a type of design competition in which an organization that intends on constructing a new building invites architects to submit design proposals. The winning design is usually chosen by an independent panel of design professionals and stakeholders. This procedure is often used to generate new ideas for building design, to stimulate public debate, generate publicity for the project, and allow emerging designers the opportunity to gain exposure. Architecture competitions are often used to award commissions for public buildings: in some countries rules for tendering public building contracts stipulate some form of mandatory open architectural competition.

Eero Saarinen Finnish American architect (1910–1961)

Eero Saarinen was a Finnish American architect and industrial designer noted for his neo-futuristic style. Saarinen is known for designing the Washington Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C., the TWA Flight Center in New York City, and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. He was the son of noted Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen.

The designs Utzon submitted were little more than preliminary drawings. Concerned that delays would lead to lack of public support, the Cahill government of New South Wales nonetheless gave the go-ahead for work to begin in 1958. The British engineering consultancy Ove Arup and Partners put out tenders without adequate working drawings and construction work began on 2 March 1959. As a result, the podium columns were not strong enough to support the roof and had to be rebuilt. The situation was complicated by Cahill's death in October 1959. [9] [12]

The extraordinary structure of the shells themselves represented a puzzle for the engineers. This was not resolved until 1961, when Utzon himself finally came up with the solution. He replaced the original elliptical shells with a design based on complex sections of a sphere. Utzon says his design was inspired by the simple act of peeling an orange: the 14 shells of the building, if combined, would form a perfect sphere. [6] Although Utzon had spectacular, innovative plans for the interior of these halls, he was unable to realise this part of his design. In mid-1965, the New South Wales Liberal government of Robert Askin was elected. Askin had been a 'vocal critic of the project prior to gaining office.' [13] His new Minister for Public Works, Davis Hughes, was even less sympathetic. Elizabeth Farrelly, Australian architecture critic has written that

at an election night dinner party in Mosman, Hughes's daughter Sue Burgoyne boasted that her father would soon sack Utzon. Hughes had no interest in art, architecture or aesthetics. A fraud, as well as a philistine, he had been exposed before Parliament and dumped as Country Party leader for 19 years of falsely claiming a university degree. The Opera House gave Hughes a second chance. For him, as for Utzon, it was all about control; about the triumph of homegrown mediocrity over foreign genius. [13]

Utzon soon found himself in conflict with the new Minister. Attempting to rein in the escalating cost of the project, Hughes began questioning Utzon's capability, his designs, schedules and cost estimates, refusing to pay running costs. In 1966, after a final request from Utzon that plywood manufacturer Ralph Symonds should be one of the suppliers for the roof structure was refused, he resigned from the job, closed his Sydney office and vowed never to return to Australia. [9] When Utzon left, the shells were almost complete, and costs amounted to only $22.9 million. Following major changes to the original plans for the interiors, costs finally rose to $103 million. [6]

The Opera House was finally completed, and opened in 1973 by Elizabeth II, Queen of Australia. The architect was not invited to the ceremony, nor was his name even mentioned during any of the speeches. [14] He was, however, to be recognised later when he was asked to design updates to the interior of the opera house. The Utzon Room, overlooking Sydney Harbour, was officially dedicated in October 2004. In a statement at the time Utzon wrote: "The fact that I'm mentioned in such a marvellous way, it gives me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. I don't think you can give me more joy as the architect. It supersedes any medal of any kind that I could get and have got." Furthermore, Frank Gehry, one of the Pritzker Prize judges, commented: "Utzon made a building well ahead of its time, far ahead of available technology, and he persevered through extraordinarily malicious publicity and negative criticism to build a building that changed the image of an entire country." [15]

Works in Denmark

Bagsværd Church near Copenhagen (1968–76) Bagsværd Church altar organ.jpg
Bagsværd Church near Copenhagen (1968–76)

While some of Utzon's most notable works are spread around the globe, he completed a number of projects in his native Denmark. Bagsværd Church, just north of Copenhagen, is considered to be a masterpiece of contemporary church architecture, thanks to its bright, naturally illuminated interior and its ceiling straddled with softly-rounded vaulting. [16] Designed in 1968, the church was completed in 1976. [17] The Kingo Houses in Helsingør (1958) consist of 63 L-shaped homes based on the design of traditional Danish farmhouses with central courtyards. [18] Built in rows following the undulations of the site, each of the houses not only has a view of its own but enjoys the best possible conditions for sunlight and shelter from the wind. Utzon described the arrangement as "flowers on the branch of a cherry tree, each turning towards the sun." [19] In general, Utzon's houses display sophisticated and varied relationships to the path of the sun. [20]

A few years later, he went on to design the Fredensborg Houses (1963) for Danish pensioners who had worked for long periods abroad. Located on a site in natural surroundings and inspired by housing in Beijing's Forbidden City, the complex consists of 47 courtyard homes and 30 terraced houses as well as a central building with a restaurant, meeting rooms and nine guest rooms. The homes are located around a square in groups of three, all with entrances from the square. [19] [21]

His Paustian Furniture Store (1988) on Copenhagen's waterfront stands on a multitude of columns inspired by a beech forest. [22] A temple-like finish is achieved by 11 columns with fan-shaped capitals overlooking the harbour. Similar columns are also present inside the spacious interior, stretching up to the skylight dominating the roof. [23]

In 2005, in close collaboration with his son Kim Utzon, he helped to plan the Utzon Center in Aalborg (completed 2008) designed to inspire young students of architecture. Located on the waterfront, its high sculptured roofs rise over an auditorium, a boathall and a library while the lower roofs of its exhibition rooms and workshops surround a central courtyard, sheltered from the wind. [24]

Other works

The National Assembly Building in Kuwait (1982) Utzon Kuwait National Assembly.jpg
The National Assembly Building in Kuwait (1982)

Kuwait's National Assembly Building, completed in 1982, stands on the sea front with (in Utzon's words) "haze and white light and an untidy town behind." Benefiting from an understanding of Islamic architecture, Utzon designed a building consisting of a covered square, a parliamentary chamber, a conference hall, and a mosque. Its waving roof conveys the impression of moving fabric. [25] Its columns are reminiscent of the Karnak temples. [5]

The Melli Bank building in Tehran, slightly set back from the lines of the busy street where it stands, has a reinforced concrete frame faced with natural stone. The ground-level banking hall, naturally illuminated by skylight vaults, is connected to the upper floor by a central spiral staircase, providing maximum flexibility of space. [26]

Later life

Can Lis, Utzon's first house on Mallorca Utzon Can Lis.jpg
Can Lis, Utzon's first house on Mallorca

On his return from Australia in 1966, Utzon made a stop on Mallorca. Fascinated by the island, he decided to build a summer house there on the top of a cliff near the fishing village of Portopetro. Named Can Lis after his wife, the house was based on the home he had intended to build in Australia but was inspired by local materials and climate, setting standards for contemporary Mediterranean architecture. The house consists of five loosely linked blocks with a colonnaded outdoor area, a living room and two bedrooms, each with its own courtyard. [27] [28]

Although Utzon and his wife spent an increasing amount of time on Mallorca, they became disturbed by all the tourists who came to see their home. They decided to move to a more remote area in the mountains where they built a second house known as Can Feliz, consisting of three blocks for dining, living and sleeping, separated by courtyards. The upper part of the grand theatrical living space is furnished for working with heavy timber bookcases and a large table. A huge window provides magnificent views of the pine forests and the sea beyond. [27]

The Utzon Center in Aalborg, designed together with his son Kim, was the architect's last assignment. In 2005 he commented, "From the bottom of my heart, I hope that the Utzon Center will be a place where positive thoughts converge and where students from the School of Architecture gather when they want to get together to discuss their ideas. It is intended to be a power centre for the architects and people of the future." [29]

Utzon died in Copenhagen on 29 November 2008, aged 90, of a heart attack in his sleep after a series of operations. He had never returned to Australia to see the completed opera house. [30] [31] On 2 December 2008 the Parliament of New South Wales passed a special motion of condolence to honour Utzon's life and work. [32] He was survived by his wife, Lis, his sons Jan and Kim, his daughter Lin, and several grandchildren. His sons are trained architects and his daughter is a designer, [15] muralist and artist who was at one time married to the Australian architect Alex Popov. [33]

Buildings and projects

Major built projects
Svaneke water tower (1951) Svaneke-vandtårn 2003.jpg
Svaneke water tower (1951)
Skagen Odde Naturcenter, Denmark, 1989 (completed by his son Jan Utzon in 1999–2000) Skagen Odde Naturcenter da 080707.jpg
Skagen Odde Naturcenter, Denmark, 1989 (completed by his son Jan Utzon in 1999–2000)

Written works

Books
Journal articles

Awards and recognition

On 17 May 1985, Utzon was made an honorary Companion of the Order of Australia (AC). [47] He was given the Keys to the City of Sydney in 1998. [48] He was involved in redesigning the Opera House, and in particular, the Reception Hall, beginning in 1999. [49] In 2003, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Sydney; his son accepted the award on his behalf. [50] In 2003, he received the Pritzker Prize, architecture's highest honor. [51]

In March 2006, Queen Elizabeth II opened the western colonnade addition to the building designed by Utzon who had not returned to Australia since 1966. His son, Jan, took his place at the opening ceremony instead, saying his father was "too old by now to take the long flight to Australia. But he lives and breathes the Opera House, and as its creator he just has to close his eyes to see it." [52]

On 28 June 2007, the Sydney Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site. [53]

Following Utzon's death in 2008, on 25 March 2009, a state memorial and reconciliation concert was held in the Concert Hall at Sydney Opera House. [54]

List of honours

Influence

According to Kenneth Frampton, Utzon's architectural influence is manifest on three levels: the emphasis given to the roof element, the importance given to the grounding of the building, and the commitment to "the cultural validity of organic growth". [65] Kim Dirkinck-Holmfeld, writing in Dansk Arkitektur: 1960–1995, comments: Utzon did not obtain many commissions in his mother country but his importance was considerable in terms of direct imitation or inspiration. And he was the only Danish architect who made a significant contribution to the global development of Modernism. [66]

See also

Related Research Articles

The year 1918 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

Bagsværd suburb of Copenhagen

Bagsværd is a middleclass suburb approximately 12 km northwest of central Copenhagen, in the Gladsaxe Municipality. Its center is dominated by the Bagsværd Towers, two high-rise apartment blocks. The suburb is connected by S-Train and has three stations: Skovbrynet, Bagsværd, and Stengården.

Kingo Houses

Kingo Houses is a housing development designed by architect Jørn Utzon in Helsingør, Denmark. The development consists of 60 L-shaped houses based upon the design of traditional Danish farmhouses with central courtyards and those of Chinese and Islamic dwellings.

Adrian Carter is an English architect, Associate professor at the Department of Architecture and Design at Aalborg University, Denmark and Director of the Utzon Research Center in Aalborg. Carter also teaches at the Aarhus School of Architecture, Århus, Denmark. Under the auspices of Aalborg University, Adrian Carter initiated and established the Utzon Center and became its first Director. The Utzon Center building on the Aalborg harbourfront was designed by Jørn Utzon in conjunction with his architect son Kim Utzon¹s office and opened to the public in May 2008.

Kim Utzon Danish architect

Kim Utzon is a Danish architect, and son of Jørn Utzon.

Hellebæk Town in Capital (Hovedstaden), Denmark

Hellebæk is a town located on the coast five kilometres northwest of Helsingør, North Zealand, some 40 kilometres north of Copenhagen, Denmark. It has merged with the neighbouring community of Ålsgårde to form an urban agglomeration with a population of 5,492.

Bagsværd Church church in Copenhagen, designed in 1968 by Jørn Utzon

Bagsværd Church is a Lutheran church in Bagsværd on the northern outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark. Designed in 1968 by Jørn Utzon, it was completed in 1976. The building is considered to be a masterpiece of contemporary church architecture, especially its bright, naturally illuminated interior and its ceiling straddled with softly rounded vaulting.

Paustian House

Paustian House is a large furniture showroom located on the waterfront in Copenhagen. Completed in 1987, it is one of the most notable works in Denmark by prize-winning architect Jørn Utzon, who also designed the Sydney Opera House. Utzon's son Kim designed two adjacent buildings which were completed in 2000.

Fredensborg Houses

The Fredensborg Houses form a housing complex in natural surroundings on the outskirts of the small town of Fredensborg in the north of Zealand, Denmark. The houses were designed by Jørn Utzon for Danes who have worked for long periods abroad.

Utzon Center museum in Aalborg

The Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark, was the last building to be designed by Jørn Utzon, the architect behind the Sydney Opera House. In collaboration with his son Kim who provided the final construction drawings, he planned the centre not as a museum but as a place where students of architecture could meet and discuss their ideas for the future. Located on the Limfjord waterfront in the city where Utzon spent his childhood, the building was completed in 2008, the year Utzon died.

Utzons House in Hellebæk

Utzon's House in Hellebæk is a one-storey private home in Hellebæk, not far from Helsingør, in Denmark's northern Zealand. Built by the world-famous architect Jørn Utzon for his family and himself in 1952, its innovative design was welcomed by the world of architecture.

Can Lis

Can Lis is a house the Danish architect Jørn Utzon built for his wife Lis and himself near Portopetro on the Spanish island of Majorca. Completed in 1971, it consists of four separate blocks linked together by walls and courtyards.

Can Feliz is a summer residence the Danish architect Jørn Utzon built for himself near Portopetro on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Completed in 1994 and located a few kilometres inland on a mountain side near S'Horta, it is the second house Utzon built on the island. Like the earlier Can Lis, it is built in the local sandstone and consists of separate blocks for living, eating and sleeping.

Svaneke water tower

The Svaneke water tower, in the small town of Svaneke on the Danish island of Bornholm, was designed by award-winning architect Jørn Utzon and completed in 1952. It was the first successful project of the architect who would later design the Sydney Opera House.

Jan Utzon is a Danish architect. The son of Jørn Utzon, with whom he worked closely on several prestigious projects, he has completed a number of fine works of his own including the Performing Arts Centre in Esbjerg.

Kuwait National Assembly Building

The Kuwait National Assembly Building, designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in 1972, was completed in 1982 under the direction of his son Jan. The structural design was by Max Walt. The building was seriously damaged in February 1991 when retreating Iraqi troops set it on fire but has since been restored.

Melli Bank, University of Tehran Branch

The Melli Bank, University of Tehran Branch, was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, famed for his Sydney Opera House. The three-storey rectangular building on Enghelab Street near the centre of Tehran, Iran, was completed in 1962.

A bibliography of books and material related to the Architecture of Denmark:

References

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Further reading