Renzo Piano Interview: On Jørn Utzon

“Architecture is a funny combination of precision and fantasy. Fantasy is interesting, but it’s not enough.” The lauded Italian architect Renzo Piano admires fellow Pritzker Prize-winner, Jørn Utzon, for his ability to combine the magical and the rational. Watch him talk about the world-renowned Danish architect, who would have turned 100 in 2018.

“I always admired everything about him: stubbornness – the famous stubbornness – but also the desire to find rational things, geometrical constructions. And at the same time the fantasy of understanding vision.”

Piano argues that if you have total freedom, you’re in trouble, but if you add something like gravity or geometry, you can create something truly great – and poetic. Utzon, he continues, was able to do exactly this, and not only in regards to the Sydney Opera House: “Jørn Utzon was able to do something with the rational, the force of gravity, structure, construction – and beauty, vision, fantasy.”

Renzo Piano (b. 1937) is a lauded Italian architect. His most known buildings include the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, The Shard in London, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo, Potsdamer Platz in Berlin and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. In 1998, Piano won the highly prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize, the jury comparing him to Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, praising him for “his intellectual curiosity and problem-solving techniques as broad and far-ranging as those earlier masters of his native land,” and crediting him with “redefining modern and postmodern architecture.” In 2006, Piano was selected by TIME as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. For more see:

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).

Renzo Piano was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his offices in Paris, France in November 2017. 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: Mathias Nyholm
Edited by: Klaus Elmer
Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2018

Supported by Dreyers Fond



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