Jørn Utzon (1918-2008)

One of the great architects of the 20th century, Jørn Utzon, author of the Sydney Opera House and winner of the 2003 Pritzker Prize, was in love with the sea and Mallorca. His passion for the island led him to buy several plots of land, where he eventually built two of his most iconic homes: Can Lis and Can Feliz. These projects, designed for his and his family’s enjoyment, are architectural landmarks and a testament to Utzon’s unique design philosophy. They continue to captivate enthusiasts of good architecture, serving as significant points of reference and places of pilgrimage.

First, he designed Can Lis, which is considered one of the most important houses of the 20th century. After two decades of living there, Jørn Utzon moved to Can Feliz, away from the humidity and the sea breeze, looking for the wooded area of the island.

Can Lis, Mallorca (1971-1974)

Jørn Utzon designed and built Can Lis after completing the Sydney Opera House and leaving Australia. The house stands atop a steep cliff, twenty metres above the Mediterranean Sea, which inspired him so much during his lifetime. Composed of four volumes connected by open courtyards, Utzon blurs the line between landscape and building. From the path along the coast, the complex is hidden behind a broken wall; only a vestibule and a ceramic bench indicate the entrance. Once across the threshold, an open-air path connects the entrance courtyards to each pavilion. Instead of being aligned facing the sea, the different volumes follow an order based on the sun’s position, the arrangement of the trees and the relationship between their functions.

The house recreates the environment of the first inhabitants, those whose lives took place in the open air and whose cave was the refuge where they could wait for the weather to clear. The aim was to capture the physical beauty and the spirit of the natural and cultural environment. Can Lis stands out with a discreet and harmonious design with the landscape, where the simple lines and geometric shapes do not compete with the environment; on the contrary, they are visually integrated into it.

Can Feliz, Mallorca (1992-1994)

Located in the village of S’Horta, Can Feliz appears far from the sea in mountainous terrain near the castle of Santueri, where Utzon exchanges the views from the cliff for extensive pine forests. This will be the last domestic project he designs.

Can Feliz leave behind the separation by volumes to give way to a single volume that revolves around an open patio. Initially, he had a couple of proposals for which he wanted to play with different volumes. Still, due to the area’s topography, he decided to opt for a single element. The other areas of the house are arranged parallel and compactly, with no gaps between them. The side walls dividing the three main areas rise above the rest in a stepped design crowned by ceramic tiles. This hierarchical structure, where particular walls stand out from others, breaks up the volumetric solidity of Can Lis, bringing the project closer to typical Mallorcan architecture.