all in the detail … Bispebjerg Bakke


It would be difficult to find two more different buildings in Copenhagen than the Jepersen office block by Arne Jacobsen and the apartment buildings at Bispebjerg Bakke from the partnership of the Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard with the architectural practice Boldsen & Holm but what they have in common is that both designs depend absolutely on their focus on every detail of the design … not simply plan and elevations but the profile of window frames, the careful choice of the right finish and exactly the right colour for materials on the facades, the details of unique, custom-made staircases and so on.

Although the apartment buildings were completed in 2007, the initial idea went back many years before that to a conversation between Nørgaard and the chairman of the Association of Craftsmen so, from the start, an important aspect of the scheme was to have a strong link between an artistic concept and its execution with a very high level of craftsmanship.

Nørgaard made an initial model in clay so the design was organic rather than a building, like the Jespersen block, that was primarily about, what was for its date, very advanced engineering. Bispebjerg Bakke is about fluid lines and the potential for architecture to take sculptural form while the Jespersen building is about bringing to reality the beauty of a mathematically precise design. How you view the two buildings; how you experience the two buildings and how you move around and through the two buildings could hardly be more different and yet both depend on understanding completely the building methods that they exploited and both, with huge confidence, play games with forms and with styles that can only be achieved with the support of a client, willing to go with designs that were far from conventional by the standards of contemporary buildings.