The renowned Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, has left an undeniable mark on architectural culture, and his legacy is particularly pronounced in Australia. In 1957, Utzon was selected to design what would become Australia’s most iconic building, the Sydney Opera House. It is a building that has come to define Australia's culture and creative ideals. Yet, despite this building’s status, there is no localised home for Utzon’s work, and no place to display and interrogate his legacy. Instead, Jørn Utzon’s archive is buried in boxes and basements across Sydney. This rich body of knowledge - of original drawings, prototypes, photographs and models - is a valuable public resource, alive with thoughts and experiments. Yet, it remains inaccessible and intangible to most.
The MA|UA (Museum of Architecture | Utzon Archive) forms a permanent home for Jørn Utzon’s archive in Sydney. It makes this archive public, tactile and richly experiential. The building consolidates and catalogues Utzon’s archive in a single place. At its core, the design employs a series of elevated Wunderkammer to store and display the content, making it accessible to a curious public.
The archive is the backbone and basis upon which this new museum produces, curates and exhibits work. Three archival pillars sit at the building’s core, with public programs and contemporary exhibits taking place in between. Archive and museum co-exist in a constant dialogue between past and present, old and new. Likewise, the architecture of the MA|UA mediates between the scale required of a public building, and the human scale of the objects on display.
The architecture is comprised of three key elements: protective pillars which store and display archival content, a viewing sequence which provides opportunities for architectural encounter, and a clouded facade that obscures and envelopes, creating intrigue.
The MA|UA is a meandering path that alters its pace, proportions and spatial character to create rich, layered experiences. Expanding on Utzon’s ideals of counterpoint, the spaces pulse between solid and void, dark and light. They compress to create intimacy, and open to provide respite and clarity. Ascent is used to intensify experience, and relationships are constantly maintained with the scale of the body and the hand.
The architectural approach of the MA|UA merges the two, often competing, trajectories of archive and museum: to preserve past knowledge and human creation, and to encourage contemporary thought. Instead, it uses the past to enrich the present, and positions history as a cornerstone upon which new ideas evolve.