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How to make:
A platform with a roof

Utzon's Universe

Malene Abildgaard & Julie Dufour
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Before you start, we recommend that you try our first Utzon's Universe excercise: making a figure of yourself.

In this exercise you are going to work with a platform and shells, like Jørn Utzon did with the Sydney Opera House. First you have to build your own proposal for shells on a platform using building modules and the additive principle - and the building material is playing cards! After that you are to draw a section that shows the interior spaces in both the shells and the platform of your model. 


Playing cards
1 flat box or lid
White drawing paper, size A3
Masking tape or other tape that can be removed easily (optional)

Glue gun
Hobby knife
Metal straight edge
Cutting mat
Scale figure, appropriate scale
An erasing shield, optional

What to do


1. Start by testing the potential of the playing cards as a building material. You can try to bend and to cut them.

2. Make three different building modules, which you can join together. Make a number of each module type and experiment with joining them up so that they can form shells and spaces. Use the box or its lid as a platform. Try to fix your modules together temporarily with masking tape or another kind of tape which can easily be removed.

3. Decide what function to give your rooms and choose at what scale you want to build. Use your scale figure at the appropriate scale to maintain correct proportion.

4. Feel free to test several different constructions with your modules to create rooms before you determine the final construction.

5. Finally, glue the modules together and glue the entire construction onto the platform.


1. Imagine that you cut the model in half vertically and Iook into it. What does the inside of the model look like? What rooms and functions lie in the platform? And where are the stairs, lifts, and other functions situated?

2. On drawing paper, draw a section of the model which shows how you imagine the rooms in the shells and in the platform are to be used.

3. Draw rooms, levels, stairs, windows, doors, and so on. Place your scale figure on the drawing so that you draw things in the correct proportion. You can use an erasing shield if you need to erase small details.

4. Finally, you can now colour or hatch the thickness of the walls with your pencil. That way it is easier to see what is wall and what is window. 

Based on Strandberg Publishing's 'Utzon's Universe' by Malene Abildgaard and Julie Dufour.

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