The renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels here expresses his admiration of what he considers the most recognizable building in the world, designed by his peer Jørn Utzon, who would have turned 100 in 2018: “To me, the Sydney Opera is probably the ultimate building.”
“It’s extremely unique, this sort of landmark location on the waterfront of Sydney. It actually becomes synonymous with an entire continent, Australia. It’s actually the most recognizable building in the world.” Ingels feels that, on one hand, the building is unapologetically modern, but that it also draws on archaic buildings, from Chinese pagodas to Aztec temples, reinterpreting them in unique ways.
“It was born out of incredible misery,” Ingels says of the fact that Utzon left Australia and the project after almost a decade, and that it was completed without him: “Everything was a disaster, but the final result was somehow worth all of the sacrifice and all of the hardship in order to get there. Waiting for your Sydney Opera, working toward your own Sydney Opera, I think is what any architect ever dreams of.”
Bjarke Ingels (b. 1974) is a Danish architect and founding partner of BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group – located in Copenhagen, New York and London. In 2013 BIG was chosen to redesign the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum and research complex in Washington, a project which will be implemented over a period of 20 years. His projects include The Mountain, a residential complex in Copenhagen, and the innovative Danish Maritime Museum in Elsinore. In 2004 he received the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale and the Danish Crown Prince’s Culture Prize in 2011. Moreover, BIG received Architizer’s Firm of the Year Award in 2014.
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).
Bjarke Ingels was interviewed for the Danish documentary ‘Big Time’ (2017) by Kaspar Astrup Schröder. Courtesy of Kaspar Astrup Schröder & Sara Stockmann, Sonntag Pictures. The interview is part of a collaboration with the Utzon Center in Aalborg, Denmark in connection with Utzon’s 100th birthday in April 2018.
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Kaspar Astrup Schröder
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018
Supported by Dreyers Fond