Functional architecture in Denmark?

farmstead from Eiderstedt now at Frilandsmuseet in Denmark


To talk about Functionalism in architecture in Denmark, usually refers to buildings designed in the middle of the 20th century and frequently cited as an example is the work at the university of Aarhus by C F Møller. The term implies an architecture where volumes and details have been pared back to what is considered to be essential and the architects take as their starting point the intended function. At a general level the term is linked with buildings that are often criticised by the public as being stark or even brutal and is usually associated with the use of concrete.

To take the word functional literally, as simply the general and practical starting point for the design of a building, then this building, the farmstead from Eiderstedt in Schleswig, now in the open-air museum, Frilandsmuseet north of Copenhagen, is perhaps the most beautiful and the most amazing Functionalist building in Denmark.

It was also possibly one of the most beautiful factories in Denmark. It is, to all intents and purposes a factory farm with a huge hay barn at the centre with a threshing floor across one side, entered through the large double doors in the end, and with stalls for cows, stalls for cows about to calve, stalls for horses and oxen, the working animals for the farm, and then across one end, under the same roof, the well fitted and comfortable home of the wealthy farmer with a diary and cheese store at the coolest corner of the building.



The plan and the division of spaces is determined completely by the structure with a massive wood frame supporting the weight of that great thatched roof. With everything under a single roof there was total control of the working process, security and of course sustainability with little natural heating wasted.

Above all, what is so striking about this vernacular architecture is its self confidence; the complete understanding of the building materials, exploited to the maximum, and the simplicity of the roof profile like an enormous sculpture. 


Below are a selection of photographs of vernacular and mainly rural buildings from Denmark that show just how confident these craftsmen were in their materials and in their own skills but they also had a clear appreciation of form and colour.

Frilandsmuseet, Denmark

Forge from Ørbæk, Funen

Farmstead from True, Eastern Jutland

Farm from Tågense, Lolland

Farmstead from Ostenfeld