opera house, jorn utzon


Danish architect Jørn Utzon was known as a visionary, with the ability to work between functionality and fantasy. Pritzker Prize winning architect Jørn Utzon on the 29th January 1957, was announced as the winner of the “International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’.
His vision for a sculptural, curved building on the Harbour broke radically with the cube and rectangular shapes of modernist architecture. The building transformed his career and, in turn, transformed the image of an entire nation.

Jørn Utzon Portrait

After graduating in 1942 with a Diploma in Architecture, he worked in Sweden until the end of World War II. Utzon was influenced by Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund and later Alvar Aalto, with whom he worked in Finland for a short period after the war.
Utzon travelled the world collecting inspiration and references for his projects, and this can be seen throughout the inventive silhouettes and layouts of his work. Jørn Utzon designed mainly through the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, with a huge portfolio of work ranging from private residential spaces to large-scale public spaces. From small houses to iconic masterpieces, Utzon’s work is always unexpected, playful, and inventive.

opera house sidney jorn utzon


The Sydney Opera House is the most iconic project by Jørn Utzon. Utzon won an international competition in 1957, swaying the jury with his provocative design.
The building is divided into a concert hall, library, cinema, restaurants, bars, and dressing areas. The interior layout was modified during the construction, as well as the shells. The main roof construction had to be reformulated with the engineers in order to be produced and built. The shells are covered by more than 1 million Swedish tiles, and feature tall glass windows facing the sea.
In 1966, after nine years of work, Utzon resigned from the project; it had gone way over budget and funds were withheld, meaning that Utzon couldn’t pay himself or his team. Australian architect Peter Hall took over the project. When he spoke with Utzon before accepting the commission, apparently Utzon told him that he’d never manage to finish the building. Despite that, the Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 to incredible acclaim.

Iconic Sydney Opera House, side view New South Wales, Australia


AHM House is a modernist house in Hertfordshire, England, designed by Jørn Utzon.
The ground floor of AHM House is connected to the landscape with floor to ceiling windows along the building and a staircase that is both in and outside the home. The structure is primarily in concrete and yellow Danish bricks, in stark opposition to the surrounding landscape.
The highlights of the house are the living areas, the quality of each space, and construction details. This house is a wonderful combination of functionality and elegance.

banesa AHM, Jørn Utzon


Can Lis is a project located in Porto Petro, Mallorca, built in 1972 and in-use between 1974-75. The house sits between the sea and the road, designed for Utzon himself and his family.
The building was inspired by Spanish architecture and built with local materials such as Santanyi sandstone and Maré sandstone. The roof is made with modular ceramics called “bovedillas” supported by concrete structural beams.
The layout is divided into four smaller buildings and connected by corridors. The largest space is composed of a kitchen and dining area and a large courtyard. The following smaller buildings are the living area, bedroom spaces, and studio. The site is uphill; one can see the sea and surrounding green area from the terraces.

Can Lis Palma de Mallorca-TorbenEskerod


Jørn Utzon was well known for his ability to bring references from different cultures into his work. After designing and building the Sydney Opera House, Utzon was invited to enter an international competition to design The Kuwait National Assembly Complex (Kuwait Parliament); the result was an astonishing modernist building.

Utzon Kuwait National Assembly


The project was mainly built in prefabricated concrete wall panels and the ceilings were cast in-situ concrete. The curved ceiling guides the light throughout the building, creating a unique experience. The light color chosen for the inside and wooden finishes suit the project perfectly. Some of the artworks within the church were created by Lin Utzon, daughter of Jørn Utzon.


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