Secondary navigation


Utzon Center

Slotspladsen 4
9000 Aalborg


Phone: +45 76 90 50 00
CVR: 30 27 94 41


Who will be the heir to Utzon’s work?

Mar 28th 2019, 9:22am

The submission deadline has passed and the search for the heir of Utzon’s work begins! The first edition of the international competition Utzon UNBUILT, which invites creative talents under 40 to investigate and interpret the world famous architect Jørn Utzon’s unknown work through digital media, has set off. Come May, we will know whether the world has been enlightened with a masterpiece on par with the Sydney Opera House.

When you think of the Sydney Opera House, you think of Jørn Utzon. And when you think of Jørn Utzon, you think of the Sydney Opera House. It’s like Leonardo Da Vinci and Mona Lisa, Pink Floyd and The Wall, Stanley Kubrick and The Shining or you name it. The artist and his or her most famous work will forever be inseparable. In this lies huge recognition and honor. Both the artist and the work are immortalized.


However, when one piece of work shines so bright, it will inevitably leave others in the shadow, hidden from those who are not in the know. It’s this unfortunate predicament, Utzon UNBUILT sets out to redress. Thus, the Utzon Center opened up its archives to the public, inviting creative talents to propose future projects based around Utzon’s unfulfilled ideas. An astounding 175 people registered for the competition, and the vast diversity of the combatants origin country demonstrates the range of Jørn Utzon’s work, with people from Japan, USA, Turkey, Canada, Uganda, China and Denmark battling for the winning prize. The international jury includes the award-winning Spanish architect Rafael Moneo, who had the pleasure of working alongside Jørn Utzon, and the renowned Danish architect Lene Tranberg, founding partner of Lundgaard & Tranberg architects, honorary fellow AIA, and friend of the Utzon family. Rafael and Lene, together with the rest of the jury, will spend the next month and a half finding the winner.


Mixing matters

In the brief of the competition, a creative obstacle was laid out for the entrants. They were to mix the soft pencil of Utzon with new digital media, based on the notion that mixing matters will inevitably bring an entirely new perspective on Utzon’s drawings. And it will make the project available to a much larger audience, thus letting people know that Jørn Utzon is so much more than “just” the Sydney Opera House.


The purpose of educating the public on what a special talent Jørn Utzon was is the main part of Spar Nord Foundation’s decision to fund the competition:


“Ever since the beginning, we spotted a huge potential for Utzon UNBUILT to help sharpen the international focus on Jørn Utzon and Northern Jutland. Also, the competition brings great joy to the field of architecture, as the international star-architects of the future get access to a priceless treasure chest of knowledge and inspiration. It will be interesting to see what the meeting between master and student, past and future, and analogue and digital work methods will bring to the table”, says Steffen Nørgaard, Director of the Spar Nord Foundation.


In honor of Utzon’s 100th birthday

In 2018, Jørn Utzon would have turned 100. Utzon UNBUILT marks the culmination of the Utzon Center’s Utzon 100 celebrations, honoring the world famous architect and sharing his stories with future generations.

The winner will be rewarded with a EUR 3.500 travel grant and the project will be exhibited at the Utzon Center in Denmark, where the award ceremony will also take place on the 9th of May. The second place will be rewarded with EUR 1.000.


Lasse Andersson, Creative Director at the Utzon Center and a member of the jury, can’t wait to dive into the numerous takes on Utzon’s work:


“Jørn Utzon is famous for being both genius and uncompromising in his work. He once said, that only five percent of his projects have been realized. That’s why a big part of the world famous architects’ ideas are practically unknown to the wider public. By allowing the most talented people of the future generation become inspired by Utzon’s drawings and interpret them with a contemporary look, the potential of Utzon’s work will show itself from new angles entirely. And who knows – maybe new icons a la the Sydney Opera House will come to light?”, says Lasse Andersson, Creative Director at Utzon Center.


About the competition

This is the first year of the Utzon UNBUILT competition. It will run for three years in total. Each time, the competition will be based on new Utzon projects. The three selected projects for this years’ competition were: the Theatre in Zurich; the Opera House in Madrid; and the Jeddah Stadium in Saudi Arabia.

The competition is open to anyone under the age of 40, whether a student or a professional in the field of architecture, design, animation, architectural technology and construction, engineering etc. Both individual and team entries are welcome. The competition program is the brainchild of the Utzon Center in association with Denmark’s institutions for Architecture and Design education.


Jury members 2019

Rafael Moneo, award-winning Spanish architect and former employee of Jørn Utzon.
Lene Tranberg, renowned Danish architect, honorary fellow AIA, founding partner of Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects, and friend of the Utzon family.
Isak Worre Foged, Associate Professor at Aalborg University with a phD in Architecture.
Line Nørskov Eriksen, Head of Exhibition at Utzon Center and phD in Architecture.
Lasse Anderson, Creative Director of Utzon Center and phD in Cultural Planning.

Read more about the jury members here: