Danish architect Jørn Utzon (1918-2008) is best known for winning the competition to design the Sydney Opera House. Born in Copenhagen to a naval engineer, Utzon helped his father design and build boats as a child, often spending time with workers at the shipyard. The shipbuilding work of his youth provided inspiration later when Utzon was searching for his own, personal design idiom.
After graduating from the Faculty of Architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1942, Utzon travelled to Stockholm to work with the Swedish architect Gunnar Asplund. After the war, Utzon worked in the office of Alvar Aalto, where he assimilated the latter’s functionalist and aesthetic ideas.
Founding his own practice in Copenhagen in the 1950s, Utzon designed buildings and homes all around the world. In 1982, Utzon was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal in recognition of his significant contribution to creative architecture.