Jørn Utzon, who never visited his most famous commission, dies aged 90

Jørn Utzon, the Danish architect responsible for Sydney Opera House's distinctive white sails, has died aged 90.

Utzon's name will forever be associated with his most famous commission, even though he resigned from the project several years before its completion.

Australia's most famous building had an extremely troubled journey to completion. Utzon won the competition in 1957, but left nine years later amid government interventions. The Pritzker Prize-winning architect's plans were altered by local architects and the building was finally completed in 1973, around 14 times over budget.

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House

Utzon refused to return to Australia after the project ran into trouble, but Australian politicians have been quick to recognise the architect's legacy. Kevin Rudd, the prime minister, said: "Jørn Utzon was a visionary architect whose legacy includes one of the world's most spectacular and inspiring buildings, the Sydney Opera House… In the great sweep of history, what we're left with is a beautiful building, Sydney's symbol to the world, Australia's symbol to the world."

Although Utzon never returned to Sydney to see the opera house, his practice designed a western extension to the building which opened in 2006.

Utzon also designed extensively in his home nation of Denmark and in the Middle East, where his buildings include the National Assembly building in Kuwait.