Saturday, June 20, 2009

Top 10: 6. Jorn Utzon

Section, Sydney Opera House.

Section, Paris Opera House.

A political ploy by Australia's then-Premier of New South Wales cost Utzon, and the world, much of what would have been a larger group of buildings than he did in fact produce. This sordid story is spelled out in a wiki article on Utzon.
Utzon had a rare, probably unexcelled, ability to conceptualize form in a building. The Sydney Opera house was the most spectacular and well-known of his career, but a church near Copenhagen, at Bagsvaerd was a significant force in architecture as well. Bagsvaerd Church is, as well as being a perfect, whole and complete design in itself, a very influential building .

Above, building section and floor plan Bagsvaerd Church
The contrast between the church's rectilinear exterior, and the softly billowing form of its sanctuary ceiling is striking. The idea wasn't new, at all. The Beaux Arts Paris Opera House is a good example of a suspended ceiling form that is unrelated to its roof shape. The Bagsvaerd Church incorporates this idea in a modern building, in a way that feels natural and convincing in an era of lip service to "form follows function." This ceiling was, according to Utzon, based on the form of clouds, floating across the sky.

Utzon's sketch of clouds as the idea behind the floating ceiling.

Bagsvaerd Church

Bagsvaerd Church

Richard Weston's book, Utzon, Inspiration - Vision - Architecture
Sydney Opera House

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