jørn utzon, bagsværd kirke – bagsvaerd church, copenhagen 1967-1976

jørn utzon, bagsværd kirke – bagsvaerd church, copenhagen 1967-1976
Church furniture
Image by seier+seier
bagsværd kirke – bagsvaerd church, copenhagen, denmark 1967-1976.
architect: jørn utzon, 1918-2008.

in so many churches there is this battle royale taking place between a giant sunburst of an organ and the space it inhabits. not so at bagsværd. utzon fits the organ into neat little wooden boxes, makes furniture of it, and a clear hierarchy is established. it is even charming and in a difficult and demanding modern building acts like something of an invitation to the layman.

observations like this abound in utzon’s architecture. the reasoning may be easy to follow, but as an architect I find his ability to work out solutions entirely within the logic of the problem he has set for himself humbling.

as has been noticed elsewhere, utzon’s original plan for the furnishing had members of the congregation facing each other across the aisle and thus facing the organ wall and its opposing interior elevation, both of which offer a perfect delineation of the great concrete shell vault. what a loss, it seems, to have conventional pews instead.

as for any longer text on bagsværd, I have decided against it for now. not that I don’t have anything to say, I find the architect misrepresented by much of the writing out there, the strangeness of it all appears lost on his Danish commentators to whom art can be rationalized to the point of banality, while the international reception is typified by convoluted essays establishing how every part of his buildings fit into semperian categories. they don’t, of course, unless you are really writing about semper and then the whole world fits, not just utzon.

I would much rather meet with those of you who are interested and discuss the church and its architect on site. I wonder if we could have as fruitful and thought-provoking discussions as we sometimes have here on flickr. imagine spending the morning in lewerentz’ church in klippan and the afternoon in bagsværd watching the space darken and turn slightly blue as the sun sets. two buildings on identical programs, contemporary and separated only by a short drive, yet as different as day and night – and as intimately connected. what a day.

for now, I hope you all have a wonderful summer – and thank you for your responsiveness and patience during my somewhat long introduction of hans christian hansen’s work. I have even stranger scandinavian modernists on the HDD, but they will have to wait.

more utzon here
more words, yada, yada, yada.