The Bright Light of Can Lis
Can Lis is part of the esteemed Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s legacy and is considered one of the most important works of residential architecture in the world. Skagerak has a long-lasting relation and partnership with the Utzon Center in Aalborg in the north of Denmark, which generously granted us permission to shoot a series of photos at Can Lis in the spring of 2019. The day at Can Lis is one of the most substantial architectural experiences we have ever had, and we hope the images will speak for themselves.
Can Lis was finished as the new private home of Jørn and Lis Utzon in 1972 after several years of construction. Situated on a mountain near the village of Porto Petro in the south-east corner of Mallorca, the house is designed as an organic whole divided into four individual housing blocks connected by walls and patios. The open structures play on the contrasts between light and shadow, inside and outside, architecture and nature.
‘Jørn Utzon said about the sunlight that strikes the living room wall at Can Lis every afternoon that happiness is counted in seconds. Can Lis is an oasis in our globalized world, carved out of the cliff where it lies, in perfect harmony with nature at the rim of the Mediterranean, reminding us that it is worthwhile to strive for something that is both simple and sublime.’ Lasse Andersson, creative director, Utzon Center
"Can Lis is an oasis in our globalized world... reminding us that it is worthwhile to strive for something that is both simple and sublime."
The various views from the house are all equally amazing with the azure sea as an insisting horizontal band that continues to draw your gaze. Can Lis is sky, sea and Majorcan nature – a trinity that Utzon incarnates in this simple but spectacular house by emphasizing the impact and aesthetic of the scenic setting.
The sparsely decorated house has fixed built-in furniture and the overall impression one gets of this minimalistic, architectural structure is that of a modest, serene and open-minded house that seems to transcend time. The unique quality of the house stems from the contemporary interpretation of the local Majorcan style and the use of traditional Majorcan materials, such as sandstone, pine wood and matte and glazed tiles.
After its use as a residential home for the Utzon family the house was sold to the Utzon Foundation, which restored it from 2011 to 2012 and then turned Can Lis into a sought-after venue for architects- and artists-in-residence from all over the world.