Jørn Utzon is just an ordinary person burdened with the gift of genius, as one of his closest acquaintances once said. Jørn Utzon's genius lay in his ability to work with the inspiration he found in so many places: in his predecessors and contemporaries, greats like Alvar Aalto, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. He also travelled extensively, especially in his younger years, finding inspiration in the Far East, North Africa, USA and Mexico, just as he also found great inspiration in natural forms and shapes.

Utzon's untraditional and unique approach to architecture is what makes his work timeless, and the interest in his organic, holistic architectural process continues to inspire architects all over the world.


Besides Can Lis, Jørn Utzon's most famous works are:

Kingo Houses / Kingohusene (Roman Houses / Romerhusene), Fredensborg 1956-60

This type of courtyard housing was a new kind of building, in which the houses, though terraced, enjoyed secluded gardens bordered partly by the house itself and partly by a protective wall.

A square courtyard is enclosed within the L-shaped house and walls, which descend in steps, leading the eye outwards towards the view. In like manner, the location of each house has been sympathetically determined in a way that achieves a close harmony with the natural environment.

Sydney Opera House, 1973

One of the most famous buildings of all time. During the selection for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2007, this building was described as a masterpiece of human creativity - not only in the 20th century, but in the history of mankind.

Bagsværd Kirke, 1976

A very successful example of an non-traditional, modern village church, where the unusual arched roof shapes and fall of light consciously orchestrate the internal spaces to suit their specific uses.

Kuwait Parliament, 1983

Kuwait's Parliament comprises four different areas: a covered courtyard, the parliamentary assembly room, large conference hall and a mosque. Each room forms a corner with a wave-shaped roof, giving the impression of a free-flowing piece of material.




Jørn Utzon is born in Copenhagen; the family move to Aalborg soon afterwards


The Utzon family move to Helsingør. Jørn joins them after completing upper secondary school education


Graduates as a qualified architect from the Royal Academy in Copenhagen


Works in drawing offices, including those of Gunnar Asplund and Alvar Aalto in Sweden and with architects Hakon Ahlberg and Paul Hedquist


Establishes his own practice


Moves into the house he has designed in Hellebæk


Wins the competition to design Sydney Opera House and is involved in the project until 1966


First visit to Majorca

1962 Acquires land in Bayview, a suburb in northern Sydney with a view to building a house there

Teaches at the University of Hawaii


Acquires the land where Can Feliz is later built and decides to live on the island


Buys the land where Can Lis is to be built


Moves to Can Lis on the coast


Establishes the practice Utzon Architects together with his sons, Jan and Kim


Moves to Can Feliz in the mountains


Jørn's daughter Lin moves into Can Lis; this becomes her main residence for the next ten years


Is awarded the Pritzker Prize


Jørn's son Kim takes over the ownership of Can Lis


The Utzon Center is inaugurated in Aalborg


Jørn Utzon dies at the age of 90