Fællesskab anno 2019 / Community anno 2019

Catalogue for Biennalen for Kunsthåndværk & Design / The Biennale for Craft & Design 2019

The forward for the catalogue has been written by  Hans Christian Asmussen - designer and lecturer in design and on the board of Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere / the Danish Association of Craft and Design.

He discusses the growing importance of our sense of community and the eighteen projects chosen for the Biennale consider, in one way or another, our "notion of community - some with a critical voice, some in a playful tone, some tenderly, but all striving to explore the value that community offers."

This is about how artists, through their work, explore complex ideas, express what they feel and give the viewer reasons to think and reconsider by emphasising or challenging a view point or simply by shining a light on aspects of our lives that possibly we need to reconsider.

There is a longer essay on Community by the design historian and design theorist Pernille Stockmarr. She makes the crucial observation that with the frequent use of terms such as 'sharing economy', 'co-creation', ‘co-design', 'crowdsourcing', and 'crowdfunding', the concepts of community and cooperation have a strong and important relevance.

Historically, the concept of community is strong in Denmark with a well-established welfare state; a strong sense of family and friendship; a strong and ongoing role for the co-operative movement in retailing for food and household design and a strong volunteer movement through various sports and hobby associations.

In part, political change outside Denmark and the growing pressure to resolve threats to our environment has lead many to question what motivates us and those uncertainties make us reconsider our priorities and help us decide how we can move forward as local or wider communities.

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the bauhaus #allesistdesign

the bauhaus #allesistdesign
Vitra Design Museum


Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter

edited by Tomas Louri,
Arvinus + Orfeus 2014

Has a foreword by Kent Martinussen of the Danish Architecture Centre, a conversation between Dorte Mandrup and Christian Bundegaard and an essay by Hans Ibelings and entries for 29 buildings - each with a short assessment - and divided into four sections under the headings Move/Play, Community/Live, Add/Change and B-Sides.

Good simple layout - deceptively simple so clever and well thought-through layout and graphics - and exemplary typography. Ends with useful chronology of work.

Dorte Mandrup

Life Between Buildings

Life Between Buildings - Using Public Space, by Jan Gehl, 1971
first English edition 1987 and new edition in English 2006 and 2011


In the introduction to this edition, Jan Gehl explains that Life Between Buildings was published in the 1970s to point out "the shortcomings of the functionalistic architecture and city planning that dominated the period."

"The book asked for concern for the people who were to move about in the spaces between the buildings, it urged for an understanding for the subtle qualities, which throughout the history of human settlements, had been related to the meetings of people in the public spaces, and had pointed to the life between buildings as a dimension of architecture, urban design and city planning to be carefully treated."

Although the first edition was published over 30 years ago, walking around recent developments on Amager and in the South Harbour area and certainly when walking around the redevelopment of the Carlsberg site, it appears that, even now, too often, the observations set out by Jan Gehl have been forgotten or ignored. There are seats and there is planting but too often these seem to be a token scattering of street furniture rather than reflecting a coherent approach for these areas.


MONO - exhibition catalogue


The catalogue for the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition in 2018 at Thorvaldsens Museum in Copenhagen has a general introduction to the exhibition by the selection board and then for each work there is a double-page layout with a full page black and white photograph for each of the works.

These monochrome images are dramatic and chime with the theme of the exhibition but also give a strong emphasis to the form of each work.

Some pieces have a descriptive or evocative name - so Calm or Look don’t touch and a cabinet for the display of special possessions has the title Ego - while other titles are more straightforward, with works described as Chair or Table and Chair.

Of course the catalogue sets out the name of the designer and the name of the cabinetmaker or the company who realised the work and each entry includes the materials and the dimensions of the piece.

There is also a short paragraph on each work to set out any thoughts that inspired the design or to talk about technical details - many of the pieces use material in an innovative way or the construction is much more complicated than is immediately apparent - and there is a translation in English.

Graphic design is by Studio Claus Due and the black and white photographs were taken by Torben Petersen.

Snedkernes Efterårsudstilling / The Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition 2018

Thorvaldsens Museum

Studio Claus Due


The Award Winning City

The Award-Winning City, Hans Helge Madsen and Otto Käszner published by The Danish Architectural Press in 2003. 


Book reviews here are normally for new or recent publications or at least for books that are still available but this is a fascinating gazetteer - a very useful introduction to the architecture of the city - that can still be found in second-hand book shops. 

Published to mark a hundred years of the awards, some of the buildings that received awards now seem obvious, particularly when they were designed by well-established architects, so the police headquarters by Hack Kampmann received an award in 1927, the SAS Hotel by Arne Jacobsen received an award in 1962 and Paustian Hus by Utzon Associates received an award in 1988. 


Palace Hotel Rådhuspladsen 57 by Anton Rosen received a building award in the category of "new commercial property" in 1911




There are some curious omissions - so the Grundtvig Church was not given an award when it was completed although the Bethlehem Church on Åboulevard, also by Kaare Klint and completed in 1938, received an award in 1939.

Styles and materials go in and out of fashion and, as you look through these awards, they record trends in architecture and throw a spotlight on social and economic pressures through each period and record, at least in part, priorities for planning in the city. 

Through the first decade or so, there are a number of large buildings in red brick and with ornate features and decoration in stone - particularly the buildings around the town hall and along the streets and blocks to the north.

The Hotel Bristol by Hans Nielsen received the award as a “new commercial property” in 1903 and the Palace Hotel by Anton Rosen, completed in 1910 was given an award in 1911 with the Studenterforeningens Bygning, Student Association Building, on the corner of HC Andersens Boulevard and Studiestræde receiving a building award in 1912.

Studenterforeningens Bygning, Student Association Building, on the corner of HC Andersens Boulevard and Studiestræde was given an award in 1912

One of this group of major buildings in red brick around the city hall ... designed by Vilhelm Klein it did not receive a building award because it was completed in 1894, before the awards were instigated, but has been included because it was the forerunner and represents the type and style of these building but, of much more interest, it was the first home of the Design Museum ... the Kunstindustrimuseet


Houses in Landemærket restored or rebuilt by the architects HH Engqvist and K Rønow received building awards in 1970 and in 1971


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.

Princessegade 56-80 ... an apartment building by Tegnestuen Vandkunsten that received a building award in 2001


Of course, styles still go in and out of favour … several concrete buildings that are less appreciated now have received awards so, for instance, the housing in Princessegade by Tegnestuen Vandkunsten in 2001 might seem rather brutal and certainly out of fashion now but might well return to favour as an antidote to just too many glass or cladding and aluminium boxes.

there are now four categories under which awards are made:

  • New buildings and extensions of residential, commercial and cultural institutions.
  • Restoration, reconstruction, renewal and conversion of listed buildings and buildings worthy of preservation, renewal and transformation of cultural or architecturally valuable urban areas and conversion of other urban areas.
  • Refurbishment of apartments established in buildings that previously served other purposes.
  • Urban environments, such as squares, parks and facilities and gable decorations, signage and furnishings.

for more information see the official site for the Building Awards

BlackStar 1-180


Vibeke Rohland, the Copenhagen textile artist and designer, has just published a major book on her print series BlackStar 1-180 with studies exploring the theme of her signature design of the plus sign over-layed.

BlackStar 1-180 is available for purchase on line and from the bookshop at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen, Cinnabar in Copenhagen and the design store Stilleben


Vibeke Rohland