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A life in architecture: Lewis Biggs

At the Rembrandt exhibition, Lewis Biggs was struck by how the light source on the self-portraits seemed to rise the older the artist got: 'It moves from his chest to his forehead and then above his head, as if he were in touch with something sublime.' As director of the Tate Gallery Liverpool, the sublime use of light in both paintings and buildings is what interests Biggs. A building he has seen only once, and briefly, is Jorn Utzon's Bagsvaerdkirke on Copenhagen's outskirts (above), built in 1976.

From outside, Biggs' first impressions were of a rather squat and industrial building, with corrugated roofing in a featureless landscape. It seemed to communicate little sense it was a church. Once inside, however, Biggs was moved by Utzon's strange and sophisticated com-

bination of clean 'northern' emptiness and theatrical lighting. Utzon, who designed the Sydney Opera House, has managed to get light streaming down onto the altar through a folded concrete ceiling in an obviously low-

budget building.

The second surprise is the windowless corridor linking the church to the parish house and halls - entirely top lit, giving a sense of walking under the sky. 'The separation between the inside and the outside is very pronounced,' explains Biggs. 'Outside there is the rather hostile, flat, cold and wet northern landscape and inside this wonderful feeling of protection and a sense that you are in touch with something above.'

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