Jørn Utzon Horisont / Jørn Utzon Horizon - Dansk Arkitektur Center

 

 

A major new exhibition has just opened in the Golden Gallery – the lower exhibition space at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen – to mark the centenary of the birth of the Danish architect Jørn Utzon who was born in April 1918 and who died in November 2008.

Under the title Horisont / Horizon, the exhibition makes extensive use of models, audio-visual presentations and the reproduction of many photographs taken by Utzon himself as he travelled widely and looked at traditional buildings in North Africa, Iran, Nepal, China and Africa and at the buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright in America that all inspired his work or were, at least, used as a starting point for some of the most imaginative and most eclectic modern buildings of the second half of the 20th century.

 

the exhibition continues through until 3 March 2019
Dansk Arkitektur Center / Danish Architecture Center

Poetic Pragmatism - POINT at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri

POINT was founded in 2013 by Laust Sørensen and Michael Droob who both studied at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture.

“Our ambition is to create endurable aesthetically pleasing solutions that evoke positive emotions and form the basis for creating memories. We believe this is possible by uniting a pragmatic approach with an elegant architectural solution that brings to life the inherent poetry and the unique attributes of the location and sparks an awareness in the beholder in this precise moment.

… we consider the social aspects to be the primary premise for developing the best possible society.”

The exhibition is tightly or even rather formally arranged with projects shown with a single image and below, set on a large cube, a 3D printed model. These models emphasise the mass or form of the buildings and obviously show the topography of the site better than any site drawing could - here mostly printed as distinct layers retaining the map contour lines - giving the models a slightly detached feel that seems remote from anything organic like rock or mud. The models also remove any real sense of materials or surface texture or colour on the buildings and show groups of volumes or mass with little idea of the plan of these buildings or any distinct function of the different parts or any impression of the experience of moving through the internal spaces.

POINT works with a company that produces computer games so they are ahead of many architectural offices in understanding and using virtual reality. Here, in this exhibition, virtual reality programmes that show their buildings and designs are seen not just through a headset but are also projected onto a sweep of semi-transparent screen that loops out from the gallery level above the book store of the Architecture Center. 

Several of the projects, particularly those for buildings or monuments in parks or gardens - including a proposal for a new raised pond at Mindelunden, the war memorial in Hellerup - have a stunning and elegant simplicity and a design for Hellerenhus, a group of buildings for a museum set in a gorge at Jøssing fjord in Norway, is both appropriately simple and starkly dramatic.

The POINT studio is in the former drawing offices of the old Burmeister & Wain shipyard at Refshaleøen in Copenhagen.

  

the exhibition is at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri in the Danish Architecture Center
until 29 November 2018

POINT

 

Arne Jacobsen at Designmuseum Danmark

the newly repainted and rearranged display in the Jacobsen gallery at Designmuseum Danmark - the chair standing on the floor is The Ant designed in 1952 and in the case above, against a reproduction of the design Spirea from 1954, the Cylandline range from 1964-1967

The House of the Future designed by Arne Jacobsen with Flemming Lassen for an exhibition in 1929

 

Sometimes it can be as interesting to look at the display cases and the style of the information labels and the lighting in a museum as it is to look at objects on display … and, for obvious reasons, more so when you are in a design museum.

At Designmuseum Danmark they have a space dedicated to furniture designed by Arne Jacobsen. I'm not sure of the date of this display but I would guess that it is over twenty years old.

It is a substantial structure and is itself quite a design item so I can see exactly why it should be kept.

The space is actually square and is on a main through walk down the right-hand range of the museum but under a false ceiling, lit to throw light down into the space, there are three curved areas with raised platforms to make the space circular and that is where furniture by Jacobsen is displayed and there are two large shallow display cases recessed into the walls plus wall space for photographs and panels. These curved platforms pick up shapes in the House of the Future that was designed by Jacobsen in 1929 - in partnership with Flemming Lassen - and as the display includes a copy of a drawing for that house so the echo must be deliberate.

The advantage of this form of display is that the furniture is lifted clear of the floor, giving the pieces at least some protection, but the pieces can still be examined up close and raised up so anyone interested can see some of the details of the construction particularly on the underside.

 

earlier in the summer:
the chairs for St Catherine’s College Oxford; the chairs for the SAS Royal Hotel and a Grand Prix designed in 1957 and The Giraffe for the dining room of the SAS Royal Hotel

photographed this month:
desk and chair for Munkegård Elementary School; The Egg, a Swan Chair and The Drop for the SAS Royal Hotel designed in 1958; an Ant Chair from 1952 and the Skovsneglen / Paris Chair by R Wengler designed by Jacobsen in 1929

 

Display case with flatware AJ designed in 1957, a lamp for St Catherine’s College and the Vola range of taps from 1969

Cylinda line - ‘hollowware’ designed in 1967 and produced by Stelton

Jacobsen is without doubt one of the most important designers from the classic period of modern Danish design in the 20th century and is certainly the Danish designer who the most foreign visitors will know at least something about so I can see exactly why he is given this special treatment.

A recent remodelling of a space further along the same gallery pulls together in one place some of the works in the collection by Kaare Klint but presumably it is felt that to separate out other individual Danish architects or designers for the same treatment would be too greedy on space and make the museum displays rather too fixed in the works and the themes that they explore.

The Jacobsen gallery has just been redecorated and looks good for its fresh coat of paint and for the replacement of photographs that had begun to curl at the edges. What is more interesting is that some of the furniture has been moved around and new pieces brought in so chairs designed by Jacobsen for St Catherine's College in Oxford in the 1960s have been removed. These were less obvious key pieces in the history of Danish design although they show the most refined and most sophisticated use of plywood for furniture in any designs by Jacobsen. They have been replaced with a chair and a desk and a sample of the fabric designed by Jacobsen for Munkegaard Elementary School in the early 1950s.

The main chairs that Jacobsen designed for the SAS hotel in Copenhagen remain - the Egg, the Swan Chair and the Drop - all still in production sixty years later - but the Giraffe Chair that Jacobsen designed at the same time for the dining room of the hotel has gone back to store which is a pity because it shows a very different style and form of chair but just one that did not receive the same popular acclaim as the other designs.

My one criticism of the display is that it shows the ever-present Danish understatement and modesty about what Danish design did and does achieve.

The display cases show the cutlery and the glassware and lighting and so on that Jacobsen designed for the SAS Hotel and there is the absolutely remarkable thing. Arne Jacobsen designed the SAS Hotel, and the air terminal that was originally in the same building, in a style and with a method of concrete pouring that was barely known in Scandinavia and untried at the time in Copenhagen so just for the building design and construction a huge challenge. It is known that Jacobsen had a small drawing office - certainly very small by modern standards - and the core team was actually working in an office in his own home outside the city in Klampenborg in a way he had developed in both the first and the second house as well as this the third house he designed for himself and his family. Yet at the same time, and in a remarkably short period, he designed not just a complicated and challenging building, but also all the furniture including six chairs, at least two of which became truly iconic designs and four of which used innovative materials for an almost unique form of shell design (the first chairs were made with expanded polystyrene)  and he designed carpets, upholstery textiles and all the tableware needed for a large hotel and all equally innovative and all in a period of about five years.

This work by Jacobsen for the SAS Hotel is often described as a good example of gesamtkunstwerk - total design - but even in Denmark that should be taken to be a bit of understatement. Surely the hotel and its interior should be lauded as one of the most incredible personal achievements by any architect in the 20th century.

Designmuseum Danmark

 

WE architecture at Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri

 

"The name WE Architecture is based on the philosophy that architecture is not the result of only one person's stroke of genius" … but  "believe that the best results occur through teamwork and transdisciplinary networks."

 

Jagtvej 69

WE architecture was established in Copenhagen in 2009 by Marc Jay and Julie Schmidt-Nielsen.

Much of their work takes, as a starting point, an exploration of how people and the community respond to and use architecture … what they describe as understanding how physical surroundings "inspire people to create new relationships or to cultivate existing relationships" … exploring the "potential for innovating the framework of communities."

This raises interesting questions because it implies that there can be an enlightened and well-defined relationship of trust between the architect and the end user as well as with the commissioning client. This is not the place to discuss the issue of politics and economics in social architecture, in the broadest sense, in Denmark but possibly a place to raise this important subject.

One project, shown here through a number of models, is a new and ongoing development for Jagtvej 69 in the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen with temporary housing for homeless people and community gardens. This is now an empty plot but was the site of a community centre, Ungdomshuset, which was cleared and demolished in 2007 precipitating street riots … cobbles thrown in the riots are one of 30 objects chosen for an exhibition at the National Museum - Din Ting - to represent key events or movements of the first years of this century. This is precisely what makes Danish architecture so important … designs that responds to the changing needs of society with an awareness of and a sensitivity to broader political issues.

Certainly, looking at the work of the studio over the last ten years it is good to see that so much of their work is in housing, education and culture and all these projects have a strong relationship with their landscape or townscape setting. Models - so massing of elements and overall form - are clearly important as different options for sites are explored through making many models at the initial stages.

The Dreyers gallery has three main levels alongside a steep staircase down from the main exhibition area and WE Architecture have exploited this by stacking up timber boxes to break down the sudden transition from each level to the next. This provides platforms and surfaces for displaying models and photographs of the projects undertaken by the team but they have also incorporated work stations where, for the period of the exhibition, staff will work but are available to discuss their buildings and answer questions.

WE architecture 

the exhibition continues until 2 November
in the Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri at the Danish Architecture Centre

 

ELEMENTAL at Louisiana

 
 

A dramatic exhibition and one of a series at Louisiana under an overall title Arkitekturens Værksteder / Architecture Workshops - ELEMENTAL profiles the work and the approach to architecture of the office in Santiago of Alejandro Aravena.

The process of design is here a main focus of the exhibition that begins with a display of sketch books - a primary stage in their design process. With excellent visuals, on small screens around the edge of the display, you can select a sketch book and explore the contents by swiping through the pages that include both notes and detailed drawings.

In conjunction with this are films running across three large images on a nearby wall that turn through sketchbooks page by page. 

The design process for this exhibition space - from initial ideas through to the construction of the final display - was treated like a specific design project by ELEMENTAL to explain their work process and philosophy. A series of large panels on a lower level of the galleries trace through the whole development of the exhibition from the first letter from Louisiana proposing the exhibition through to the construction in the space. It is rare, as a visitor to an exhibition, to be able to track in such detail the work involved in producing an exhibition on this scale and of this complexity.

There are separate areas with photographs forming a time line for projects and models showing the primary volumes and forms of major buildings. There is a sequence of photographs and drawings of the now famous social housing - half fitted out in the initial construction and half to be completed by the families at a later stage and a sequence of prototypes showing the development of the design of Silla Chair - an open source design. Under a huge suspended box, there is a film of the projects from a drone.

 

ELEMENTAL opened on 11 October 2018 and continues until 28 February 2019
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

Fortællinger om et sted / Stories of a place

Arkitektens fotokonkurrence 2018 / The Architect's Photo Contest 2018

Following a competition by the association of architects, this exhibition shows the five winning portfolios, each with five photographs of a building or a single architectural project.

In a World that seems to be dominated by superficial Instagram images this is an important exhibition because instead of a quick glance and a swipe right the photographs are presented for careful consideration.

It is difficult to capture, for the record, the qualities and the character of a building in a few images and one function of these photographs is to slow down the process of looking. These photographs are about trying to record what is essential about the style and the form and the materials and the setting of a building.

read more


the exhibition was open as part of the Day of Architecture on 1 October but continues through to the 26 October

Arkitektforeningen
Åbenrå 34
1124 Copenhagen K

Boliger til Folket / Housing for the people

 

Immediately after the War there was clearly a shortage of housing but also cities realised that poorly-built housing - particularly the dark and tightly-packed housing that had been built in courtyards - had to be demolished and replaced with appropriate homes of a much higher standard

The exhibitions at Arkitektforeningen for the Day of Architecture is an opportunity to see here again the exhibition Boliger til Folket / Housing for the people about social housing in Denmark after the Second World War, so through the1940s and 1950s.

This was shown first in Copenhagen in the central library in March 2017 and was reviewed here

This is a second chance if you missed the exhibition the first time round but it is well worth a second look with profiles of several major housing schemes and includes comments by residents from interviews some remembering what the apartments were like when they were new. 

One aim of the exhibition was to re-establish the merits of these apartment blocks by focusing on the quality of the design and the high quality of the initial building work but it also emphasises the reasons for good and sympathetic restoration work to ensure that these buildings not only survive but that they have an ongoing role as good and desirable housing.

BIG Art at Kunsthal Charlottenborg

 

An impressive and entertaining exhibition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg with large-scale works created by artists working with the architectural studio of BIG and primarily for major new buildings or for public spaces.

Each work has a video presentation by Bjarke Ingels and this confirms that he is one of the most articulate proponents of modern architecture and planning.

the exhibition continues until 13 January 2019

Kunsthal Charlottenborg

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art at 60

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.

The entrance to the museum is through a 19th-century house - a private villa built in 1855 for Alexander Brun (1814-1893) that was set back on the east side of the coast road from Copenhagen to Helsingør - just north of Humlebæk - with extensive gardens looking out over the sound. 

It is said that the new museum was called Louisiana - because all three of the wives of Alexander Brun were named Louise - and the name was kept when the villa was purchased in 1955 by Knud W Jensen - a businessman, writer and patron of the arts who founded the new museum.

New buildings were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert and Jørgen Bo with covered and glazed corridors that link three large, well-lit gallery spaces to the house and together form an arc around the north side of the main lawn.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art opened in 1958.

the original house from the gardens (top)

plan of the house with the villa cross hatched and showing the low ranges of service buildings forming a forecourt
the first new buildings were a series of corridors stepping down gradually to follow a ridge between a lake or inlet to the west and the beach and sea to the east and retaining both the large lawn and mature trees

Vilhelm Wohlert and Jørgen Bo photographed in 1958 standing in front of a brick wall that formed the side of what was initially the library - this is the side of the building that faces away from the sea and is now an area of terrace alongside the museum restaurant

the view out over the sound from the terrace of the museum restaurant (below) shows how important the landscape and the garden setting are for the museum

 

Louisiana Jubilæum 1958 / 2018 - the chair and the lamp designed by Vilhelm Wohlert

To mark the sixty years since the Modern Art Museum at Louisiana opened, the Louisiana Chair and the Louisiana Lamp have been re-released.

Both were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert who, with Jørgen Bo, was the architect for the museum and the chair and the pendant lamp can be seen in the museum restaurant that has been refurnished for the anniversary.

Louisiana Butik

 
  1. the Louisiana Chair displayed with the tall bar stools in the Butik at Louisiana

  2. the Louisiana Lamp in the Butik

  3. the chairs designed by Vilhelm Wohlert in the museum restaurant

  4. the taller stools with back rest in the museum restaurant

 

LETH & GORI - The Art of Building

 

One of the series of exhibitions of the Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri to show the work of new or young architects, architectural practices and studios.

For this exhibition the architects have produced a timber-framed structure that steps down three levels of the gallery and creates distinct partly- enclosed spaces where models and photographs of their buildings are displayed.

Dreyers Arkitektur Galleri at DAC

Leth & Gori


the exhibition continues at the Danish Architecture Centre until 5 October 2018

 

Practice Futures

 

A major exhibition, Practice Futures, has opened at KADK - the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

The full title of the exhibition is Technology in Architecture, Practice Future, Building Design for a New Material Age, and this is an import examination of that area, if you see it in terms of a Venn Diagram, where the disciplines or professional expertise of architecture, engineering, techniques of construction and the development and the technology of materials meet and overlap.

Fifteen research projects are presented here from international PhD students working in six major European research departments and working with fourteen established partners including major architectural practices, engineering companies and construction companies.

These ongoing studies are reassessing well-established materials such as timber and concrete and rediscovering or reassessing or developing techniques to shape, bend, finish and join materials to achieve new forms of construction such as large scale, computer-controlled extrusion or printing and the development of new materials for large-scale building projects. 

This is about new tools and new approaches for reassessing traditional materials and established craft techniques but also about using computers to assess complex information; to solve unconventional design problems and to control systems for constructing new forms and new types of building. 

Projects presented here are prototypes to demonstrate customised solutions to realise challenging new construction projects that not only have to take into account the need for high energy conservation but also have to tackle rapidly-developing problems or social pressures from population growth, and, as a direct consequence, find new solutions to the demands of cities that are growing at an unprecedented speed. This is construction design trying to deal with political and economic constraints and with the added and pressing demands of global climate change.

KADK Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53
1435 København K

the exhibition continues until 7 December 2018

 

Arkitekturens Dag / Architecture Day 

 

Architecture Day this year will be on Monday 1 October with events around Denmark. For the programme and information about times and venues see the site on Arkitekturens Dag by Arkitektforeningen - The Danish Association of Architects.

Arkitekturens Dag - Arkitektforeningen

 

Dansk Møbelkunst at CHART DESIGN FAIR

 

Dansk Møbelkunst are one of twelve galleries exhibiting at Den Frie in Copenhagen for CHART DESIGN FAIR. They showed some superb and unusual or rare modern furniture and, as always, of the very highest quality. There was a pair of chairs designed by Kaare Klint in 1931 and called Mix. Edvard Kindt- Larsen may have collaborated in the design of these leather-covered arm chairs that were produced first by the cabinetmaker N C Jensen Kjær and then by Rud. Rasmussen.

Also shown was one of the high-backed chairs designed by Arne Jacobsen for the top table in the hall of St Katherine’s College in Oxford and a set of three of the bed-side drawer units originally in the Royal SAS Hotel in Copenhagen.

Den Frie

Dansk Møbelkunst

 
 
L1290431.jpg
 

Løsninger - exhibition of work by graduates from the School of Architecture, Design and Conservation

 

 

There are just a few more days to see the work of the 232 architects and designers who graduated this summer from the schools of architecture and design at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering - KADK or the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture, Design and Conservation.

 

the exhibition is open every day to the 19 August 2018
KADK
Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53

Bien at Trianglen

Trianglen Bien.jpg
 
 

 

This is one of the more extraordinary buildings in Copenhagen. 

It is at the east end of Trianglen on the traffic island and was a tram car stop with a kiosk; a room for a traffic controller and public toilets and with benches not only in the recessed spaces on the east and west sides but also around the outside where people could sit if they had to wait for trams at this busy interchange.

The architect was PV Jensen-Klint and it was commissioned in 1904 by the Østerbro Grundejerforening or Landowners Association to replace a wooden hut on the same site. A number of designs were presented before a final design was approved and the building was completed in 1907.

It has a sort of exuberance and delight in playing with variations of shape and form that is associated with Art Nouveau architecture but here the columns on each side with strong entasis - the bowing out in the middle - and the almost Baroque elements with curved shaped heads to windows and doors picked up in the line of glazing bars makes it more robust and strongly architectural than buildings you would find from the same period in Paris or Brussels.

The oval shape of the building and its copper roof meant that it was soon given the nickname of the Super Terrin or Terrinen - it looked like a large soup dish with a lid with the heraldic animals on the top like a knob or handle although they are actually flues for the stoves. The building is also known as Bien or The Bee from the name of the kiosk here at one stage.

 

 

Løsninger / Solutions 2018

29 June 2018

This evening was the official opening of the exhibition of the work of the graduates from the schools of architecture and design at Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering - KADK or the Danish Royal Academy of Architecture, Design and Conservation

 

The exhibition is open every day through to the 19 August 2018

KADK
Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53
1435 København K

 

shop interior by Kaare Klint for FA Thiele

 

background / history

Købmagergade is one of the two main shopping streets in Copenhagen and number 3, close to the intersection of those two streets, is a wide building with two separate shops running back into the property and a central doorway for access to the staircase and to the floors above the shops. The building appears to have just escaped the catastrophic fire in the city of 1728 and may date back to the first half of the 17th century - the adjoining building was damaged and had to be rebuilt. Number 3 was rebuilt between 1816 and 1834, when it was owned by a restaurateur - Jean Pierre Casadaban -  and in 1847, an extra floor was added with, presumably, a new roof and at that point the street frontage took on its present appearance.

The shops have very high ceiling heights where, as in so many of the older buildings in the centre of the city, the floors of the main level, originally six or seven steps up from street level were brought down to pavement level, cutting into the space of basement rooms that were originally half below ground and half above ground - a form of plan described as a half basement or semi basement.

 

In the middle of the last century, the shop in the left or south half of the building at number 3 Købmagergade was occupied by the opticians  F A Thiele. They are now in a shop further north along the same street - but in 1944 they commissioned the architect Kaare Klint to design a new shop font and new interior fittings here.

Work was delayed and did not start until 1951 when Klint was assisted by the young architect Vilhelm Wohlert, who had studied under Klint, and the shop was actually completed in 1956, some two years after Klint died.

It is a complicated space with the front part of the shop just two steps up from the pavement but the space then narrows and towards the back runs through into a back building at a higher level, eight steps up from the floor of the front space, although the ceiling level is constant.

Klint and Wohlert designed a reception and waiting area at the front and, back down the shop, there were 18 tables or desks with chairs, where patients were seen by the opticians, including tables set along a narrow balcony that returned back towards the shop front from the raised area at the back. At the very back there was a small office but with a glazed front wall.

Unlike the present arrangement, the back part of Thiele's had windows looking into a narrow back courtyard so there was natural light.

 
 

Distinctive fittings included high and narrow units of small drawers - next to the staircase in the middle of the shop - for storing the glasses but the interior also made striking use of large flush panels veneered in wood and areas of vertical and closely spaced narrow strips of wood that picked up the tight linear pattern of the ceiling, that had narrow strips running front to back, and the bolder lines of the closely-spaced rafters of the underside of the balcony.

The drawer units were along the side wall but also returned across the shop beside the staircase and taken up higher than the floor level of the space beyond and seem to have included a flower planter across the top and formed the barrier or parapet of the upper level.

These steps up to the back had open treads and the handrail had closely-spaced vertical battens so again a strong linear design. Note how the wide handrail curves at the top and bottom to level off to horizontal so it was at the right level for your hand as you approached and as you reached the last of the steps.

The interior is about clean simple lines but the planes of walls and fittings define a clever interrelationship of spaces and volumes marking not just changes in the underlying building - that the architects were given - but define different areas of the shop ... so a progression from pavement through the display space of the shop window to a counter and reception area, a waiting area and pay desk, stations for consultations, storage of stock and an office at the far end, above everything but with its glass wall, a place from which to supervise all. Perhaps one of the most elegant essays in functional architecture in the city.

The front window was again a deceptively simple but again an exceptionally sophisticated design with a wide lintel across the door to divide the very high shop window across the centre. This was deep enough to carry lighting with a series of spot lights over the window displays and narrow opaque panels for the lights over the entrance. The glass on either side was set at the front edge for the areas of window display but the entrance door was set on the back edge of this horizontal feature with narrow windows on each side to form a covered entrance lobby. At the front or outer corners the sheets of glass forming the sides of this lobby are butted up to the large plate-glass windows of the shop front without vertical frames - something we now just take for granted but then, presumably, both novel and daring.

Plain boards below the windows set the height of a solid panel in the bottom of the otherwise glazed door and the windows were large undivided sheets of glass so there is an apparent simplicity to the design but in reality a complicated and clever game with planes and lines and spaces.

The demolition of this interior has to be seen as a major loss.

 
 
 
 

a cigar shop for Hirschsprung by Kaare Klint

 

At the start of his career, Kaare Klint designed other interiors for commercial properties in the centre of the city but, like the shop for the optician F A Thiele designed at the end of his career, these have not survived.

In the exhibition of photographs Then & Now there was a view taken in 1968 towards the west end of Strøget - the walking street - looking west across Gammel Torv and on the far side of the square, on the north or right side of the next section of the street, was a cigar shop owned in the early 20th century by Hirschsprung.

It was not far from the court house - lower down the public space on the west side of Nytorv, the lower part of the square - and not far from City Hall so this must have been a prime location to serve all those lawyers and politicians.

 

The interior of the shop had mahogany counters and floors in black and white marble but with green linoleum on the floor behind the counter and there was what sounds like a strong and distinct colour scheme with the walls painted russet. Designed by Kaare Klint working with the architect Povl Baumann, it was completed in 1916 or 1917, and was given a city design award in 1918.

Klint designed furniture for the shop - with a version of the chair he designed for Dansk Kunsthandel - and ashtrays and sconces in bronze but he also designed the lettering for the signs on the black and grey facades on this prominent corner site.

Unfortunately, the contrast with the store here now could not be greater.

Surely the interior and exterior, as the work of one of the most important Danish designers of the early 20th century, could and should have been protected so that it survived. That's not a plea for anything and everything old to be kept but surely new uses can be found for historic shop interiors of a high quality without compromising financial returns. Commercial chains clearly do not want to or cannot afford to keep these interiors but the city cannot afford to loose them.

note:

Diagonally across the square from the cigar shop is the Stelling building by Arne Jacobsen from the 1930s and there the shop interior has just been refitted and again with no reference to the important original design and, by coincidence, for the same shop chain.

 

an addition to the Red Cross Headquarters in Copenhagen by COBE 

 

November 2016 - the main structure of the addition in concrete was in place and you could see how the new entrance would work but this was before the brickwork across the terrace had been laid so it was difficult to gain an overall impression

 

A trip out to Trianglen - to see the new Biomega shop - was the chance to have a look at the new entrance building for the Red Cross Headquarters not far away on Blegdamsvej.

Designed by the Copenhagen architectural practice COBE, models of the building were shown in the exhibition Our Urban Living Room at the Danish Architecture Centre at the end of 2016 and I had seen the work in progress several times through 2017 but this was the first time I had been to that part of the city since the work was completed.

A three-storey office building here dates from the 1950s and is on an unusual plot - very wide but quite shallow with the main road across the front but with the building set back from the pavement with open public space at the front and with the back of the building hard against the boundary of Fælledparken which is the largest and perhaps the most important public open space in the city … so there was no possibility to extend the building back.

The solution was to build a new range out across the front that fans out from the original entrance and with its highest point against the building but sloping or rather stepping down to the pavement. In a way it is like one quarter of a pyramid if it was cut down the corner angles.

This new structure leaves triangular courtyards or green areas to each side to let light into the original office windows on the existing frontage but also reconfigures these as more enclosed and private spaces with the new building shielding them from the street and the noise of passing traffic.

Rooms under the slope, with a large new foyer in the west part, are lit by full height windows at the back that look into these green areas and look towards the existing range. 

Perhaps a better way of thinking about this is not as a new addition across the front but as a scheme that retains all the original open and public space across the front but tips part of it up at an angle and slips new rooms and new facilities underneath. This idea is, of course, close to what COBE did at Israels Plads where there are triangles of steps across two angles of the square which provide elevated areas where people sit to enjoy the sun or sit to eat a snack from the nearby food halls or just sit to watch other people but here, at the Red Cross building, on a larger scale. It is hoped that at Blegdamsvej this stepped slope will become an equally popular public space.

The brick steps are broken by the entrance to the building that creates what is, in effect, a small entrance court … a device used by COBE at, for instance Forfatterhuset, to form an interim public space where people arriving and leaving can stand and talk … not actually on the public pavement but directly off it … so it's the idea of a transitional space from public to private and from outside to inside. Also, it clearly signals to someone new to the building where they should enter … so this is COBE’s modern version of a portico but more about circulation and drawing the visitor in rather than being more overtly about status.

COBE

May 2018