Hans Munk Hansen Interview: On Jørn Utzon

“He saw everything.” In this video, Danish architect Hans Munk Hansen describes his close relationship with the celebrated architect Jørn Utzon, whom he worked and travelled with.

“He was different. We knew this at once.” Utzon had a love of the simple way of living, which inspired and attracted his peers. He didn’t aspire to create something new every time, but there was a common thread through all of his work – from his youth to his last days. According to Munk Hansen, Utzon’s greatest inspiration was nature, and he was often late to arrive at the office in the morning, as he had stumbled across something in the forest, which had inspired him. He didn’t read that much, but rather wanted to experience things for himself, which he also did by travelling, visiting architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe.

Travelling was very important to Utzon, and many of these travels went to the Middle East, not least Morocco where he had family and also some of his first jobs. Their love of the Middle East connected the two architects: “He was fascinated with Islamic culture and architecture, and so was I.”

When asked what Utzon has meant to him, Munk Hansen is very clear: “As my old professor, Kay Fisker, said: We architects all stand on the shoulders of others. And I stand on Utzon’s shoulders. I acknowledge that.”

Hans Munk Hansen (b. 1929) is a Danish architect, who has played an important role in the preservation of architectural heritage and in the design of sustainable new buildings. His work, which includes restorations of historical buildings, adaption of old buildings to new uses and new constructions in valuable landscapes or settings, reflects a great sensitivity to the “genius loci.” Among his buildings is the National Bank of Teheran (1958) (in corporation with Jørn Utzon). Munk Hansen is the recipient of the prestigious awards such as the Eckersberg Medal in 1988 and the C.F. Hansen Medal in 2000. He is also a Professor in Architecture and the author of several books on the subject.

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).

Hans Munk Hansen was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his house and studio in Copenhagen, Denmark in February 2018. 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: Klaus Elmer
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Cover photo: Jørn Utzon’s first building and unofficial studio, Ålsgårde, 1939. Courtesy of Utzon Center/Utzon Archives
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Dreyers Fond

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