Monday, December 01, 2008

Jørn Utzon

In light of recent events, his passing is probably lost upon the rest of the world -- barring Australia -- so I'd like to take a few moments to tip my proverbial hat and bow my head in memory of Jørn Utzon.

Utzon is best known as the architect of the Sydney Opera House, one of the most amazing organic designs for a building in the world. It's a little surprising but Utzon was not Australian but Danish: his design won the worldwide competition held in 1957.

There are several amazing facets of the Sydney Opera House, but to me what stands out is how well it blends in with the surrounding harbor. One doesn't need to be an architect or an artist to know that it feels...just right. That was the hallmark of Utzon's work: for his buildings to blend in with the natural landscape.

Sadly, Utzon never fully realized his work with his magnum opus. Politics soon got in the way of the project, and the newly elected government of 1965 cut his budget, ultimately ceasing all payments to the architect. As a consequence of this, the interior of the Sydney Opera House was not built according to Utzon's specifications.

Utzon left the country in 1966. He was not even invited to the building's opening in 1973.

Rapprochement in 2002 saw the Australian government reestablish ties with Utzon who, together with his son, was commissioned to restore the interior of the Opera House according to the original design. Utzon's son continued the work, but Utzon himself never got lived to see it.


  1. If it's any consolation, I can pronounce his name. :)

  2. And how is it pronounced? ;-)

    Saw a documentary on him on Discovery Channel just last Saturday. So coincidental.

  3. OMG! He's dead!!!!!!! I worship him...

  4. And to think, I caught his story on the Discovery Channel just a day before his death was announced. I thought he had died then, given the program came across like a eulogy.

    He was fired by the government then after disagreements on the budget, project control and design so yes, the interiors were not of his design. I heard that the Opera House suffered(-s?) from poor acoustics.