restoration I

Work is progressing on a major project to restore the famous Nyboder houses in Copenhagen. These long terraced rows, with cobbled streets and narrow yards between the rows, cover a large block in the north-east part of the historic centre of the city within the old city defences  … so south and west of Kastellet - the fortress or citadel - and close to Østerport railway station that is on the site of the old east gate.

The first of the rows were built in the 1630s and 1640s at the instigation of Christian IV for naval personnel and were single storey but with attic rooms. More rows - the two-storey terraces - were constructed in the middle of the 18th century and the last houses, in grey brick, date from the very end of the 19th century.

The houses from the 17th and 18th centuries were built in pale-yellow brick but given an external wash of lime with deep ochre pigment but this wash has just been removed so the brickwork can be repaired and, where necessary, repointed.

Stripped of this ochre wash, the facades reveal important archaeological evidence to show clearly how window and door openings were constructed. There were no obvious lintels but lines of headers above the windows so, almost certainly, the timber frame of the floor structure would have been set out to take the weight and outward thrust of the roof to prevent the outer walls bowing out or the ground-floor openings failing under the weight of the brickwork and roof above. 

In contrast, more precise coursing in historic brickwork can be seen in a house on Wilders  Plads in Christianshavn with alternate rows of different colours of brick so that brickwork was clearly built to be exposed and left without render. The Nyboder brickwork is not of the same quality so the houses must have been covered and protected with was of lime and pigment from the start.

It is also clear that by using lime wash - rather than a thicker and smooth coat of render - the final surface is not just more resilient - as each thin layer is applied, the lime oxidises and bonds to the stone or brick it covers - but the visible and slightly irregular brickwork gives a texture to the surface that seems to make the colour deeper … modern brickwork, in contrast, seems mechanical and flat or, if anything, dull.

more images and historic map of Nyboder

 

FRAMA - the apartment

 

 

For 3daysofdesign Niels Strøyer Christophersen of FRAMA opened his apartment on Strandboulevarden in Østerbro.

It's on the ground floor and at the corner of an apartment building that dates from around 1900 and, from the start, it was a shop with a small apartment behind as accommodation for the shopkeeper. This was a common arrangement in the city where many of the apartment buildings - from the late 19th century and then on through the 1920s and 1930s and 1940s - have commercial and shop space on the street level and particularly at the corners of the buildings.

The entrance into the shop from the street - with the doorway set across the angle of the cut-off corner - is typical of the period as are the high ceiling heights. The main FRAMA store in Fredericiagade is another if an up-market version of the same building type …. there a former apothecary shop, at the corner of an apartment building, with ornate ceilings and shelving from the late 19th century surviving.

Beyond the main front room of the shop in the Strandboulevarden building, the apartment was relatively small with the windows of its main rooms looking out to the side street and smaller rooms, including the kitchen, with windows looking into the courtyard and with a door in the corner of the kitchen for access to a 'back' staircase and access to the courtyard itself ... a practical and, again, a common arrangement.

The last occupant of this shop and apartment was a watchmaker although it had been empty for several years before Niels took over the property.

Niels has combined together the space of the shop and the apartment for his home. 

He has stripped back the walls to raw plaster but decorative mouldings of plaster cornices and moulded decoration on the ceilings, where they survived, have been kept. However, architraves and all doors have been removed so that the space flows from one area to the next.

With the high ceilings, the windows are large but, because these look out directly onto the pavements to the street to the front and the street to the side, plain white blinds and plain full-length curtains in linen and in natural silk have been used to give some privacy. This use of plain textiles also means that there is a subtle control of light and a fluid and softer definition to the spaces and again the emphasis is on natural materials and in their natural colours.

Furniture in the apartment is, of course, from the FRAMA collection, and in this setting looks, of course, absolutely right. Again, this furniture is about using natural materials, so steel plate or wood or stone, and again used to empasise natural colours and natural textures. Forms are plain and tend towards looking industrial because they keep to relatively simple shapes and emphasise or respect techniques and methods of fixing that are determined by the way the material are used when they are used honestly so used without pretension and, ostensibly, without reference to historic styles or traditional forms and shapes.

Although plain and without decoration, the furniture and the interiors are obviously far from being unsophisticated and far far from being crudely made or simply designed so this is about a distinct aesthetic that looks at interiors and at furniture in a different way.

FRAMA might appear to be a life-style design studio - particularly now with their apothecary range and with the book they have published with recipes - but it is about a serious and coherent design aesthetic that looks at materials in particular but also at texture and colour and form in a different way. It has to be significant that Niels has not had a traditional design-school training. His is not a unique but is a rare way of seeing the design world … so perhaps the most obvious comparisons should be with the work of John Pawson - particularly his photography and his publications - and with interiors by David Chipperfield or the work of Vincent Van Duysen.

This is an aesthetic that is stripped back but not strictly minimal - plain and in part close to industrial design - particularly early industrial design from the late 19th and early 20th century - but not brutal and although, ironically, about product design it is also about very careful consideration and calm reflection before acquiring anything.

From seeing the apartment, there is a strong sense that anything from anywhere might be considered for inspiration but essentially this is about materials used in a simple almost engineered way that has to respect intrinsic qualities of colour, surface and texture.

 
 

Copenhagen Architecture Festival 2018

 

 

13th April 2018

Copenhagen Architecture Festival opens on the 3rd May and continues through to 16th May 2018. 

Yesterday the full programme was launched on line and this year, for the first time, there will be events in Odense as well as Copenhagen, Aarhus and Aalborg … all cities with a “strong architectural identity.”

The theme for this year is HOUSING HOMES / AT HUSE HJEM with lectures, film screenings, exhibitions, workshops and guided tours to look at ideas of home, housing and belonging … “to look at what constitutes a home, what does it mean to be home, and how homes are created in different and difficult situations.”

The ambition of the festival “has always been to share architecture with a wide audience by being unpretentious, curious, and bringing a new perspective to the table. We want to create new encounters between subjects, people, and ideas in the city’s space. The intention is for architecture to act as a character in the dialogue through the audience’s personal experiences of the spaces. Architecture is thus for everyone- not just for architects.”

 

download the programme from CAFx

brick cladding

 

Out near the beach on the east side of Amager there are large new apartment buildings that are going up and at an incredible speed because of the method of construction being used with large panels of preformed concrete lifted into place by huge cranes before then being fixed or linked together. 

Then, on the outer face, goes insulation and a veneer of brick in large sheets made in a factory …. and that is where I begin to have reservations.

read more

 

Jægersborg Water Tower by Dorte Mandrup

 

In any major city, industries change or the way that utility services are provided have to adapt or are modernised and substantial and striking buildings can become redundant.

In Copenhagen many of these industrial buildings have been converted in an imaginative way to become housing or major gallery spaces for exhibitions or have become venues for concerts or theatre … buildings mentioned here recently include the former locomotive works that are now an exhibition hall - used for Finders Keepers and the installation by Hiroshi Sambuichi in The Cistern - an imaginative conversion of an underground water reservoir in Frederiksberg that is now a dramatic gallery space.

Many of the buildings are not just striking or unusual but are normally exceptionally robust - they were built well and built to last - and some were designed by well-established or well-known architects and engineers so, from that point of view alone, they merit being retained but in reality that means justifying the cost by finding new uses.

It seemed worth starting an occasional series of posts here about some of those buildings.

The water tower at Jægersborg is on a high point above the city - about 12 kilometres to the north of the city centre and close to the rail line and Jægersborg suburban station. Designed by Edvard Thomsen and completed in 1954, it has a large circular water tank supported on a complicated and tight arrangement of concrete columns with 12 outer columns and 6 inner columns forming an inner hexagonal pattern of cross beams. 

The initial scheme included a plan for apartments but it seems the idea was abandoned because of noise pollution.

An extensive remodelling of the tower by Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter was completed in 2006 to provide leisure facilities on the three lower levels and student housing above. Accommodation is in pods with bed-sitting rooms with large, full-height windows angled to make the most of the views and the sunlight.

the architecture of Kløvermarken

 

 

 

architecture, design and planning in Copenhagen ........... 

 

the houses of Dyssen and the area between the water of the 17th-century defences and Kløvermarken on Amager

 

good architecture in Copenhagen is not just about aluminium window frames, sealed glazing units and Scandi-clean design ... here is cladding and the use of materials and a sense of colour at its best

the towers of Brøndby Strand

Significant problems have been identified in five of the tower blocks at Brøndby Strand.

These iconic apartment buildings are 16 storeys high and were designed by Svend Høgsbro and Thorvald Dreyer. They are about 12 kilometres from the centre of Copenhagen and are a striking sight from the train as it follows the the bay on the coastal line down to Køge. 

Built between 1968 and 1974 and, as was common at the time, fittings and structural materials in the towers contain Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) that are now known to be toxic - so possibly electrical equipment, cable insulation, thermal insulation, floor finishes and even oil-based paint would have to be removed to comply with current building standards and health regulations. The towers also need repairs to concrete that has degraded and, given the age of the buildings, services and fittings do not match current building standards or tenants expectations and would also have to be upgraded.

There appear to be no technical solution for removing PCBs that are viable financially with remedial works estimated to be almost four times the cost of rehousing the 196 families that live here and then demolishing the apartments.

 

Boliger til Folket - Housing for People

A small but important exhibition of photographs of housing estates that were built in Denmark in the 1940s and 1950s has just opened in the central library in Copenhagen. 

The exhibition was funded by Realdania, Grundejernes Investringsfond and Landsbyggefonden with the Department of Culture and continues at the central library in Copenhagen until 26 March 2017

read more

 

the house of Arne Jacobsen and a rare opening to the public

In 2005 Realdania purchased the house in Gotfred Rodes Vej that Arne Jacobsen designed and had built for himself and his young family in 1929. The house has been restored and many features returned to the original arrangement. The house is normally occupied by tenants so access for the public is rare but the villa was opened for two days on the 11th and 12th of February.

Gotfred Rodes Vej 2

the house of Poul Henningsen

 

The house designed by Poul Henningsen for himself and his family in Gentofte, a suburb of Copenhagen, and completed in 1937 was purchased by Realdania By & Byg in 2014. 

After an extensive programme of restoration work, returning the house to its original appearance, it will be leased but just for this week the public has been allowed access. 

It will be open on Saturday and Sunday the 17th and 18th September from 13:00 to 17:00.

Brogårdsvej 72, 2820 Gentofte