Challenging young architects to visualise Jørn Utzon's uncompleted work - The Post

Challenging young architects to visualise Jørn Utzon’s uncompleted work

In a parallel universe, ‘Utzon Unbuilt 2020’ is challenging the entrants to fully realise Sydney Opera House, a project razed to the ground after its designer resigned seven years into its construction

One of the most majestic harbour views in the world (photo: Anthony Winning)
October 15th, 2019 7:00 pm| by Roselyne Min

The legendary Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who is best known for designing the Sydney Opera House, left a lot of unconstructed potential masterpieces on the drawing board when he died in 2008.

Earlier this year, the Utzon Center in Aalborg accordingly challenged young international talents (under the age of 40) to take a stab at fully visualising the potential of one of his designs.

So, who knows, in similar manner to how a ‘new’ John Lennon track hits the charts, we could soon be witnessing the unveiling of a new Jørn Utzon building.

Underground amphitheatre
For ‘Utzon Unbuilt 2019’, the challenge was to complete a 3D model of ‘Utzon: the Theatre in Zurich’.

For ‘Utzon Unbuilt 2020’, for which registration has opened and will continue until January 15, the challenge will be to complete the Jeita Grotto Theatre in Lebanon, which was not realised due to local conflicts. Utzon’s design included an immersive underground amphitheatre in a 750 metre-long cave.

Already, the Jeddah Stadium in Saudi Arabia has been chosen for the following year.

Nothing can quench the fire Utzon’s designs (here and below of the Lebanon amphitheatre in a cave) brought to the world (both photos:


Inspiration from a colossus
All entrants are permitted to draw inspiration from Utzon’s drawings in the centre’s archives.

The entrants are required to keep Utzon’s core idea and interpret what they see in his drawings at the same time.

To demonstrate it, the entries must demonstrate that Utzon’s soft pencil lines merge with their 3D-rendered-models.

Winner must be worthy
The  winner will be honoured at a ceremony at the Utzon Center in May 2020 and receive 7,000 euros.

However, a first-place prize is not guaranteed. Earlier this year, the jury were unable to find an entry who satisfied their expectations out of 175 submitted works representing 45 different countries. Instead three honourable mentions were awarded.

The jury this year consists of a number of well-known international names, including the  Spanish architect Rafael Moneo and Line Nørskov Eriksen, the head of exhibitions at the Utzon Center.

Another Opera House on the cards?
“By encouraging a new generation of talented architects, designers, animators and digital media developers to draw inspiration from Utzon’s drawings and interpret them in a contemporary and totally different perspective, we will shed light on the potential of Utzon’s works,” enthused jury member Lasse Andersson.

“Who knows? Maybe we will even end up with another Sydney Opera House!”