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The legendary Danish architect Jørn Utzon – most notable for designing the Sydney Opera House – would have turned 100 in 2018. In this video, award-winning architect Lene Tranberg shares her love for “the architect who has made the most impact on me and my generation.”

“He understands how to work with metaphors so that each building is embedded with fantastic narratives,” says Tranberg of Utzon, whom she feels had a fundamental approach, which never leaves you doubting his standpoint, and whose work you can keep exploring. On a recent visit to Utzon’s remarkable architect’s house Can Feliz (1994) in Mallorca, Tranberg was fascinated by its playfulness despite its complex nature, and how the outdoor pulse seems to be embedded in the building: “He totally disregarded the architectural norms. He just did what he thought was right, and it’s so convincing.”

Tranberg considers Utzon’s Sydney Opera House one of the biggest masterpieces ever created, “up there with the pyramids, and more powerful even because it’s such a social project with a well-defined hierarchy.” One of its many strengths is that it is as much part of the landscape as it is a building, and this, she feels, has something to do with spirituality as a part of Utzon’s outlook. On the other hand, the grand Danish architect was also unsentimental about his work, keeping a focus on the construction: “He didn't put airs about his work. But he had an eye for placing one brick on top of the other in a unique way.” Moreover, Utzon never forgot the importance of playing, and though he didn’t aim to build monuments, they arose as a result of playfulness.

Lene Tranberg (b. 1956) is a Danish architect and the head architect and co-founder of Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, which is responsible for a number of high-profile buildings in Copenhagen, including the Tietgenkollegiet student residences and the Royal Danish Playhouse. Tranberg began teaching at the Royal Academy of Architecture in 1986 and was employed there as a lector from 1989 to 1998. She has held numerous positions in the world of Danish architecture, including CEO of the Danish Architecture Centre from 1998 to 2002. Tranberg is the recipient of the prestigious awards such as the Eckersberg Medal (1994), C.F. Hansen Medal (2005) and Prince Eugen Medal for Architecture (2014). For more see:

Jørn Utzon (b.1918-d.2008) was a Danish Pritzker Prize-winning architect responsible for notable buildings such as the Sydney Opera House (1973) in Australia. When it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2007, Utzon became the second person to have received such recognition for a work during his lifetime. Other noteworthy buildings by Utzon include Bagsværd Church in Denmark (1976) and the National Assembly Building in Kuwait (1982).

Lene Tranberg was interviewed by Christian Lund in April 2017 at a private home (by Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects) in Hellerup, Denmark. The interview is part of a collaboration with the Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark in connection with Utzon’s 100th birthday in April 2018.  

Camera: Jakob Solbakken

Edited by: Klaus Elmer

Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017

Supported by Dreyers Fond 


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