Undermining Architecture: Redressing the mythologies of Can Lis.

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Conference Proceeding
4th International Utzon Symposium, 2014
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Jørn Utzon is rightly celebrated for a portfolio of work that has inspired many of us. However, the quality of the work and the evasive and poetic terms in which Utzon himself discussed it has done much to obscure a precise understanding of his method. The result has been two decades of mythologizing, much of which has been based in speculation and with minimal engagement with primary sources. The result is that we have never been further from understanding what Utzon might do now. Two recent visits to Can Lis revealed a range of building changes and adjustments - mysteries which have not been adequately accounted for. Questions prompted by these 'mysteries' led to a process of engaging with a number of primary sources including Jan and Kim Utzon and corroborating their alternate accounts of Can Lis' design and construction. This process has revealed that very little of the scholarship around the project is accurate, leaving serious questions around the basis upon which Utzon's legacy is understood and calling into question, by implication, much of the scholarship around his entire oeuvre. This paper will present the findings from the Can Lis case study and in doing so will focus on aspects of Utzon's working method which are little understood and reported. The paper will reinforce how Can Lis has survived as a masterwork even when the current house bears little resemblance to his actual design and will open an entirely new course of discussion regarding what Utzon might do now.
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