Illustrations of the 1925-edition Yingzao fashi 營造法式: Jørn Utzon’s aesthetic confirmation and inspiration for the Sydney Opera House design (1958–1966)
In his 1958 study trip to China, Danish architect Jørn Utzon (1918–2008) acquired two copies of the 1925-edition Yingzao fashi (Chinese Building Standards), first published in 1103 AD. Utzon’s own Yingzao fashi meticulously documented the imperial building practice in feudal China with numerous illustrations. The monograph later became one of the most important sources for Utzon to study the design, structure, construction and decoration of Chinese monuments during his enduring interest in Chinese building culture. However, the precise role of Utzon’s ideas and ideals inspired by the Yingzao fashi in the Opera House design still remains largely unexplored. By surveying the primary sources in The Utzon Archives, the State Library of New South Wales and the architectural collection of Utzon’s family, as well as interviewing his staff and colleagues, the authors argue the Yingzao fashi delivered an important impact both on the aesthetic ideal and architectonic characteristics of Utzon’s Opera House design. This presents that illustrations of Utzon’s Yingzao fashi served not only as a conceptual means to initiate his design but also as practical implements for him and his team to solve the problems of design, production and construction, before their forced resignation in 1966.