The renewed relevance of the organic tradition in architecture in the digital age: As exemplified by the work of Jorn Utzon

Thomas Arvid Jaegar, Adrian Carter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionResearchpeer-review


landmarks in the city. These buildings represent a new kind of aesthetics in contrast to the rectangular Euclidian
rationalistic architecture, which has been the hallmark of the modernist architecture since Bauhaus– but they
also represent a revival of the organic sculptural architecture of the middle of the twentieth century. The paper
proposes that as digital technology evolves, enabling us to increasingly emulate the forms of nature within our
built environment, as we see within the parametric design, it will be ever more important to know and
understand our “roots” or historical cultural background in relation to organic architecture.
In order to understand the nature of this new “digital organic” language of form, we propose a study of the
short but significant “analogue organic” period of architecture after the Second World War - exemplified by the
work of Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, Finn Juhl and Jørn Utzon. Even though Utzon throughout his
career was always deeply focused on the humanistic aspect of functionalism, he also was, one of the architects
that remained committed to industrialization and mass production; and actually developed a prefabricated
system for double curved form. The same prefab-methods used in much of recent “digital organic” architecture.
This paper articulates how Utzon’s major work gathers the threads from the past and actually achieves the
goals at an architectural scale for a new organic form – as defined by Noyes in 1941.
This paper presents some of the factors, behind and involved in, creating his version of “new organic
architecture” in the fifties – in order to make it possible to compare this with later studies of “digital organic”
architecture of the twenty-first century. The relevance of returning to Mumford’s criticism of the
consequences of industrialization and mass production must be seen in the perspective of today’s
digitalization, prefabrication and mass production of nearly every aspect of the modern architecture and
society. This research is hermeneutic in nature and its central arguments based on contemporary sources.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress
PublisherUIA 2017 Seoul
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)979-11-961666-1-8 , 955610
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2017
EventInternational Union of Architects (UIA) 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress - Seoul, Korea, Democratic People's Republic of
Duration: 3 Sept 20177 Sept 2017
Conference number: 26


ConferenceInternational Union of Architects (UIA) 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress
Country/TerritoryKorea, Democratic People's Republic of
Internet address


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