Jørn Utzon is an architect whose roots extend back into history—touching on the Mayan, Chinese and Japanese, Islamic cultures, and many others, including his own Scandinavian legacies. He combines these more ancient heritages with his own balanced discipline, a sense of architecture as art, and natural instinct for organic structures related to site conditions. The range of his projects is vast, from the sculptural abstraction of the Sydney Opera House to handsome, humane housing; a church that remains a masterwork with its remarkably lyrical ceilings; as well as monumental public buildings for government and commerce.
His housing is designed to provide not only privacy for its inhabitants, but pleasant views of the landscape, and flexibility for individual pursuits—in short, designed with people in mind. There is no doubt that the Sydney Opera House is his masterpiece. It is one of the great iconic buildings of the 20th century, an image of great beauty that has become known throughout the world—a symbol for not only a city, but a whole country and continent.
“I like to be on the edge of the possible,” is something Jørn Utzon has said. His work shows the world that he has been there and beyond—he proves that the marvelous and seemingly impossible in architecture can be achieved. He has always been ahead of his time. He rightly joins the handful of Modernists who have shaped the past century with buildings of timeless and enduring quality.