The Utzon Center was inaugurated on the 28th of May 2008, and it stands as the first of a number of cultural initiatives on Aalborg’s new waterfront. The Utzon Center functions as a venue for diffusion and innovation, where art, architecture and design interact with exhibition, education, conferences and culinary experiences – an apt tribute to the Danish architect Jørn Utzon (1918-2008).
Jørn Utzon grew up in Aalborg. It is therefore obvious that this architecture, design and cultural centre should be placed in Aalborg – in the same area at Honnørkajen where he use to walk by on his way to school every day. The Center is designed by Jørn Utzon himself in cooperation with his son Kim Utzon. Utzon Center has become a gathering point at the water front where there is an active life for students, for the locals as well as visitors from Denmark and foreign nations.
The two museum halls of each 350 square meters display fascinating spatial exhibitions as well as larger art pieces – uniquely illuminated by skylights. The front hall of the building towards the water, displays a 30 year old yacht with distinctive curvature of its stern forms, known as Spidsgatter. The yacht was designed by Jørn Utzon’s father, Aage Utzon who worked as an engineer at the shipyards in Aalborg. This was his last and fastest work. Two walls in the ‘Spidsgatter Hall’ are reserved for the museum’s permanent harbor front exhibit – and the harbor front itself is right outside the panoramic windows.
Sheltered by four glass walls, the Utzon Center also includes a lovely court yard decorated with, by choice of Jørn Utzon himself, a crab apple tree, which blooms with delicate pink flowers in the summer time.
In the Utzon Café and Restaurant located directly above the fjord, you can enjoy a delicious meal, and in the gift shop they sell books written by and about Jørn Utzon as well as small design classics.
East of the Utzon Center you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful Utzon Park. In the park, Jørn Utzon had planted his favorite trees – cherry trees of three different sorts. Among the cherry trees, you will see concrete furnitures of Utzon’s design from Escofet. The park also exhibits the artist Tove Anderberg’s sculpture ‘Favntag’.
Jørn Utzon’s main inspiration for the design of the Utzon Center was Aalborg’s industry and shipyards. Together with the adjacent student houses, The Utzon Center stands as an architectural intermediary between the buildings of the city center opposite the tall, massive constructions in relation to the new House of Music and the heavy industry on the east harbor.
On the center’s own website, you can read more about the design and materials of the Utzon Center
”I really hope, from the bottum of my heart, that this small house is going to be a place where positive thoughts meets and where the student from the school of architecture will come when they need to spend time together and discuss. It is going to be a real centre of excellence for the architecture and for humanity in the future.”
- Jørn Utzon
The Utzon Center also offers experiences for children and the young at heart at Aalborg University’s Universitarium, a summer exhibition experimenting with nature and technology. The purpose of this exciting and engaging exhibition is to activate both the body and the senses. The theme is changed annually, so there is always something new to learn. Read more about the theme and opening hours at utzoncenter.dk