after late architect jørn utzon resigned from the sydney opera project in 1966, he decided to settle on the balearic island of mallorca, where in 1972 he built can lis, a house for himself, his wife, lis, and their son kim. singled out as one of the most important houses of the 20th century, the residence reinterprets traditional mallorcan building methods, and incorporates local materials such as marés sandstone on its outer walls and columns, santanyi sandstone on its floors, interior walls and kitchen worktops, and madera norte, a majorcan pine, for all the woodwork.all images by terence chin photography
jørn utzon built can lis near porto petro after he was denied permission by local authorities to build on the land he and his family first bough up in the mountains, where can feliz is now located. situated on a steep cliff facing the sea, the house’s narrow site between the road and the sea prompted the architect to erect four separate buildings, each with its own function: bedroom buildings, a living room building, and a kitchen and dining room building, facing a partly covered patio with views towards the sea.
can lis was restored and transformed into a contemporary artist’s refuge in autumn 2011 by the utzon foundation and architect lise juel, who had previously collaborated with jørn utzon on the utzon center building in aalborg, denmark. ‘with the same grid of marés stone and the spatial narrative as a compass, a process of the constant challenge and excavation of ideas and technical solutions took place during the restoration,’ notes juel. ‘we where determined to make minimal physical interventions, with great spatial impact.’ the house is now open to the public, and thanks to the restoration, it can be habitable throughout the entire year.
name: can lis
architect: jørn utzon
renovation architect: lise juel
location: mallorca, spain
sofia lekka angelopoulou I designboom
aug 02, 2019