These are certainly not what we would understand now to be modern architecture but these were clearly appreciated as some of the best buildings of the period. The city defences were dismantled only in the 1870s and the development of that land and the expansion of the city outwards beyond the defences and beyond the lakes made a profound difference to the city. These brick buildings were mainly new offices and new commercial properties around a new town hall.
Walking into the city from the main railway station few people would see this as a deliberately-planned commercial district but that is what it was and that is what the Building Awards celebrated. Many of the later buildings respect that - so Den Permanente, where the best of Danish design was shown though the 1930s and 1940s was in this area, just west of the station, and the Association of Danish Industry was and still is here close to the City Hall. The SAS Hotel was, in part, here because as the air terminal for SAS it was planned to be the entry point to the city for foreign businessmen and politicians flying into Copenhagen. Even the Design Museum, when it first opened, was here in the red-brick building immediately west of the city hall on the edge of the Tivoli Park.
What was “modern” about these buildings was their scale, their focus on purpose-built commercial buildings such as hotels and buildings with public or state or political functions - so should include the Carlsberg Glyptotek and academies and institutions like the prison south of the city hall - and there was a common agreement on an appropriate style - so in the 1870s and 1880s French influence - it is HC Andersen Boulevard - but then by the turn of the century Italian - perceived as historically the architecture of banking and of wealthy merchants - and then by the time the Free Port opened in 1904 - a renewed self confidence in Denmark so looking back to the architecture of 17th-century Denmark - a comfortable and appropriate form of nationalism.
Later, the awards recognised very different types of building and the political and economic changes of the 1920s and 1930s with a change of political focus so a large number of the new apartment buildings that were constructed around the city through the 1920s and 1930s received awards. As the city expanded out into new suburbs, traditional individual homes and new housing was recognised with awards so Bakkehusene by Ivar Bentsen and T Henningsen in 1923.
Significantly, over nearly 120 years, a third of the awards have been for projects to restore or convert historic buildings.