Leading architects, planners and designers discuss Sydney’s past and future in new lecture series

Jan Utzon, leading architect and son of world-renowned Sydney Opera House designer Jorn Utzon, spoke about his father and his vision for Sydney’s most famous building in the first of a new series of lectures focusing on major issues in contemporary urban Australia.

The University of New South Wales’ Faculty of Built Environment launched the new public lecture series bearing Sydney’s most recognised architectural name - Utzon – on Wednesday, March 24 at 6pm in recognition of long-standing links between the university and the late creator of the Opera House.

Jan Utzon studied architecture at UNSW before leaving Sydney with his father after Utzon senior resigned in protest from the Opera House project in 1966 following repeated clashes with the NSW government. Jan Utzon was joined in the lecture by Professor Richard Johnson, who worked with both Utzons on the renewal of the Opera House following Jorn’s agreement to return as a design consultant in 1999. Jorn Utzon died in 2008.

The Utzon Foundation approved the use of the Utzon name by the Faculty of Built Environment in recognition of its support of Jorn. UNSW’s Associate Professor Elias Duek-Cohen was a leading campaigner for Utzon’s return to the project following his resignation and continued to champion his cause for three decades.

Faculty of Built Environment Dean, Professor Alec Tzannes, said the Utzon name was an integral part of Sydney’s architectural identity and a fitting title for a lecture series focusing on the lessons in the city’s past and the challenges in its future.

“Jan has fond memories of being a student here and he thinks it’s the best place to study architecture,” Professor Tzannes said. “He also knows that the faculty was right behind his father during his struggle to build the Opera House according to his vision.”

Seven more talks scheduled for 2010 will focus on urban consolidation, Sydney’s urban heritage and history, environmental and health issues and will feature leading architects, planners and designers including Philip Thalis and Adrian Carter, Director of the Utzon Research Centre at Denmark’s Aalborg University.