a petrol station by Arne Jacobsen

A couple of years ago I drove over to Copenhagen to buy a chest of drawers that I had seen in a sale. Ok! Ok! Enough! Look, you have to agree that there are more expensive addictions or much worse habits to have. 

Where is that cup of coffee? Now where was I? Ah yes ....

As I had the car with me, the friends I was staying with suggested on the Sunday that we drive up the coast from the city for lunch somewhere. I was a bit mystified because, when I said that I needed to buy petrol, they said that there was a better petrol station just a bit further on. 

Then we came to this petrol station at Klampenborg.

The Texaco petrol station was designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1937 and, as you can see from my photographs and the drawing, it is on the beach road - actually almost on the beach itself. In fact,  the new petrol station was part of a development of the esplanade when gardens and trees were planted between the road and the sea.

This building demonstrates clearly one of the principles for good design: start with something that is as simple as possible and then think carefully about what you have to add. Just because you can add something does not mean that you should.

BP and all the other companies take note. If you built petrol stations like this in England I wouldn’t - obviously - buy more petrol but I might drive out of my way to find one of your petrol stations. Unfortunately, most petrol stations are designed on the market-stall principle - that is to pile everything you have out front and shout very loudly.

On the opposite side of the road to the petrol station at Klampenborg is a large block of apartments called Bellavista, designed by Jacobsen in 1931, along with a theatre and a restaurant, and there is a group of houses just to the south that were also designed by him. The houses were completed in 1950, and it was here, subsequently, that Jacobsen lived and had his office.

Klampenborg is pretty close to being in heaven for a design historian but a heaven where you can buy petrol.