Jørn Utzon

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Jørn Oberg Utzon, AC (9 April 1918 – 29 November 2008)[1] was a Danish architect most notable for designing the Sydney Opera House in Australia. When the Sydney Opera House was declared a World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007, he became only the second person to have his work recognised as a World Heritage Site while he was still alive.[2]

Contents

Early life and career

Utzon was born in Copenhagen, the son of a naval engineer, and grew up in Denmark. From 1937 he attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under Kay Fisker and Steen Eiler Rasmussen. After graduating in 1942, he went to Sweden to work for Gunnar Asplund. After the end of World War II and the German Occupation of Denmark, he returned to Copenhagen. In 1946 he visited Alvar Aalto in Helsinki. From 1947–48 he travelled in Europe in 1949 in the United States and Mexico. In America he attended Frank Lloyd Wright's school in Arizona.[3] In 1950 he established his own studio in Copenhagen.[4]

Opera House design

In 1957 he unexpectedly won the competition to design the Sydney Opera House. Although he had won six other architectural competitions previously, the Opera House was his first non-domestic project. The designs he submitted were also little more than preliminary drawings. One of the judges, Eero Saarinen, described it as "genius" and declared he could not endorse any other choice.

Utzon refined his original conceptual designs for the shells over several years. One particular difficulty was that the Cahill government was so eager to commence the project that they arranged for the engineers, Ove Arup and Partners, to put out tenders for the podium without adequate working drawings; this work actually began in 1959 while Utzon was still in Denmark working on the final plans.

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