Andrew Carswell takes you on a tour of the Sydney Opera House as Australia celebrates the 40th birthday of an icon.
THE black-listing for life of Sydney Opera House architect Jørn Utzon by colleagues in his home country of Denmark is to be erased permanently from the record, on the 40th anniversary year of his most famous design.
Jørn Utzon caused outrage in his native Denmark when he walked away mid construction of the Opera House in February 1966 after a clash with the NSW Government over materials and fees.
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Utzon’s son Jan Utzon confirmed recently recovered family archives showed his father was banned for life by Denmark’s association of architects for what they said brought shame to the profession.
“When he came back to Denmark in 1966 he was called to the Danish Institute of Architects and told in no uncertain terms that his actions in Sydney were ‘deplorable, the clients were always right, you can never leave a job’ and what he had done was damaging for the architecture profession and they would make sure that he would never get a public job in Denmark again which he never did,” Mr Utzon told News Corp Australia.
Mr Utzon said his father was greatly saddened by the banning and he had to look elsewhere including Zurich for work.
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It was that ban that prompted Utzon Snr to move to Mallorca in Spain, ironically because he believed it was the closest in climate, dryness and natural texture with sandstone and rocks, to his beloved Sydney, a city to which he felt he could never return.
The Danish Architects Association had apparently softened its stance on him by awarding him a medal of honour in 2006, two years before he died.
On the 40th anniversary year of his creation, a spokeswoman for the Association said while historically there had been “some issue” with his leaving the project in the 1960s, the Association was content to now declare there was no documentation of his black-listing and he would now only ever be regarded highly.
“The memory of Jørn Utzon in this Association is positive and of honour,” the spokeswoman said.
She said while it was perhaps never formally stated, members had “forgiven him” in 2006 when he was given the medal and in that sense the only historical memory now was very positive.
In October Australia’s most famous structure celebrated its 40th anniversary since its opening with Jan Utzon attending celebrations alongside Denmark’s Australian-born Princess Mary.
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