One of Denmark’s most famed architects, Henning Larsen, died on Saturday at
the age of 87, his office has announced.
An icon of Nordic modernism, Larsen’s long and distinguished career began
following his degree from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1952, and
eventually earned himself the label of ‘Master of Light’.
He established his own practice in 1959, specialising in larger buildings
designed for the general public, such as schools, universities and
His international breakthrough came in 1984 with the construction of the
foreign ministry building in Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. Since then, Henning
Larsen Architects has designed numerous large complexes, including the Free
University in Berlin, Copenhagen Business School, The Mærsk McKinney Møller
Centre for Continuing Education at Churchill College in Cambridge, the Busan
Opera House in South Korea and the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum
of Art at the University of California.
In Denmark he is best known for a complex he didn’t like – the Copenhagen
Opera House, which he designed under strict, and not always acceptable but
followed orders, of the donor of the building, the late Mærsk Mc-Kinney
In a book of memoirs, Larsen called the building a ‘toaster’.
Last year, Larsen won the Praemium Imperiale prize awarded annually by the
Japan Art Association – the first Dane ever to do so. The Praemium Imperiale
Prize is often characterised at the Nobel Prize of the arts.
“Light seems to fall from the ceiling and windows, reflecting off the floors
and walls, filling the space sublimely; these minutely calculated lighting
effects are one of the greatest characteristics of Henning Larsen’s
architecture,” the awarding prize committee said.
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