Objet trouvé [03] : Jørn Utzon and Elineberg’s towers – landscapes | Rodrigo Almonacid

Section and gathering of Jorn Utzon’s project, in collaboration with Erik and Henry Andersson, for the project of 6 towers of apartments in Elineberg, Sweden, c.1954. | Source: www.utzon-archives.aau.dk

In Elineberg, Jørn Utzon had occasion to open an organic architecture solved with admirable simplicity and without resorting to formulae of residential buildings in height already known. The idea of repetition, inherent in a block of multiple floors (since the case is this), is finely altered by the Danish architect to give him a fullly human sense linked with the experience of the landscape from the interior of every apartment. It is enough to read the annotations that it did on two of the sketches that type planned on the vertical section of the block to warn it:

“Over the fifth floor, normally only the sight of the sky is had (left side).

“Wonderful sight to the Oresund placed to one kilometre and a half of distance (right).

On a common basement, destined for parking and I access to every tower, they arrange between 13 and 15 plants with 4 apartments in each one, with a spatial solution of type was squeaking only megaron 1 for every unit of housing, giving priority to the solar southern orientation. Assembled concerning a very limited core of communications placed in the back of the tower, every megaron slips with regard to the contiguous one to avoid a flat front and to achieve a major visual privacy from the terraces in antis that appear between the parallel walls of brick. The functional sequence in his interior is modélica, with the bedroom in the northern part, the kitchen and receiver in the center, and the lounge with the terrace in the southern part.

The section us reveals the vertical and diminishing segmentation of the tower: the first three floors forming a broad base, with the terraces of major size; the three following ones diminish the space-megaron both in the lounge and in the flight of the terrace, preserving still the level of the floor in the only level as the low floors (except for the step of exit to the terrace); in the rest of plants, the wrought one it is solved already in three different levels, which difference accentuates as the floor is more removed from the area, on having staggered the lounge in two sections and the terrace (turned into balcony). On having folded the wrought one, the ceiling of her was squeaking it gets down and limits the vision of the bland northern sky, and, in exchange, on having placed the breastwork of the balcony at the level of the soil of the dining room, the inhabitant can spy the distant marine strait of the Øresund. To avoid the sensation of dizziness, and again breaking with the rules of the funcionalismo more Ford´s method in the gathering, Utzon projected a vibrant lattice of thin vertical strips which density was directly proportional to the sensation of dizziness, “on that the green one will grow” according to words of his author.

Plants type of the top floors of one of the towers of apartments on Elineberg, Sweden, c.1954. | Source: www.utzon-archives.aau.dk

Elineberg’s project was late in be constructing and lost great part of his organic intensity on having simplified the solutions that they had allowed to the architect to flee of the idea of series, motive for which this one acts scarcely it has had recognition in the set of Utzon’s work. Nevertheless, this one is a very fruitful project, since it served the architect as model of tower for students’ residences (the offer be remembered for the contest of “LO College” in Helsingør, or for the school “Højstrup” in Elsinore, both of 1958); and also as system of organic implantation in the area in the shape of cluster serpenteante, that then would be the base of his joint residential magicians of the “Kingo Houses” in Helsingør (1957) or those of Fredensborg (1965).

In all the mentioned projects there is sensed beforehand this Ralph Erskine’s judgment that Utzon made his on having affirmed that “in the development of a project, the client, that is to say, the future user of the building, with his particular way of life, is a material of construction as important as the concrete, the brick, the stone, the wood and the steel”. 2 This vitalist and human attitude of the Danish architect is revealed in the freshness of this precocious Swedish work, from his big traces and up to his details, making credible his indicative words of his test “The essence of the Architecture” of 1948, with that it seems to describe his own Majorcan house of retirement in Porto Petro:

“It is necessary to have a healthy vision of the life. To understand the concept that means to walk, to sit down and to lie down comfortably, to enjoy the Sun, the shade, the water against the body, the land and all the minor sensations. The well-being must be the base of the architecture if the harmony wants to be reached between the space that is created and that in him is going to develop. It turns out to be simple and very reasonable”. 3

So simple and so reasonable as this project, real objet trouvé that one ran up for the way preparing a contest to realize the housing that was attending to the contemporary and future demands. And, paradoxically, I found this prudence in a work that already had been dreamed nothing less than 60 years before by Utzon. I am not so sure that today still we could emulate at least those residential experiments of the northern empiricism that still they remain with dignity confirmed strictly between ourselves.

Rodrigo Almonacid [r-arquitectura] · doctor architect

valladolid. october 2014


1 Kenneth Frampton describes to these towers as the result of diverse “combinations of the same unit type megarum”. Cfr. FRAMPTON, Kenneth: “Jørn Utzon: Froma transcultural and tectonic metaphor”. Monographic catalogue dedicated to Jørn Utzon, Department of Public Works, Transport and Environment, Madrid, 1995, p.25.

2 Mentioned by the own Jørn Utzon in his test “The importance of the architects”. Op. Cit. p.13.

3 UTZON, Jørn: “The essence of the Architecture” (orig. 1948). Ibidem p.15.

(Teruel, 1974). Licenciado en Arquitectura (1999) con premio extraordinario y Doctor “cum laude” en Arquitectura por la Universidad de Valladolid (2013), compagina su actividad académica como profesor doctor de la E.T.S. de Arquitectura de Valladolid con la profesional al frente de su propio estudio [r-arquitectura]. Es autor de dos libros: Mies van der Rohe: el espacio de la ausencia (2006); y El paisaje codificado en la arquitectura de Arne Jacobsen (2016). Colaborador habitual en blogs de actualidad y crítica arquitectónica.

Proyecto edificios singulares y sostenibles en mi estudio [r-arquitectura] desde el año 2000 con la colaboración un equipo multidisciplinar de especialistas de acreditada experiencia profesional. [Especialidad: Sector Terciario].

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