Copenhagen Gallery

Frederiksberg Courthouse

The listed courthouse in Frederiksberg, from 1921, is to be extended with a new building containing new courtrooms and other facilities.

The listed courthouse in Frederiksberg dating from 1921 is to be extended with a new building housing new courtrooms, offices and seating areas for the users of the court.

The Danish architectural practice 3XN is behind the design of the project. The challenge facing the architects was to design an extension which, in an architectural sense, conveys the seriousness of the business carried out behind the walls and at the same time communicates a feeling of welcome.

New courthouse in central Frederiksberg

The courthouse is located in the central part of Frederiksberg, which borders on to the area around Solbjerg Plads ("Solbjerg Square"). During the last ten years the entire area has seen intensive urban redevelopment and renewal including, to list a few, the construction of a metro station, Frederiksberg Upper Secondary School, Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and a series of new squares and spaces designed by landscape architect Stig L. Andersson.

The challenges for the architects

The grave responsibility of a court of law places special demands on the layout and function of its buildings. According to Jan Ammundsen of 3XN the project presented two big challenges:

"The biggest challenge was definitely security and especially the protection of witnesses. We have worked hard to ensure that witnesses, defendants, judges and families of the involved parties do not meet accidentally before they enter the courtroom."

"The second biggest challenge was the building site. In the first place, to retain an area of open space around the existing and listed courthouse and to leave the smallest possible footprint on the site. This means that the layout of the building had to be as compact as possible, and it is this compactness that has determined the shape."

Jan Ammundsen also explains that 3XN gave high priority to creating a new courthouse that would function well as a workplace. "For instance, the job of a judge is both highly responsible and solitary, as he or she is not allowed to discuss cases in progress with anyone else - not even other judges. The layout of a courthouse must of course be designed to suit such particular needs. Therefore every judge has an office of their own, and an enclosed corridor links the offices with the courtrooms."

Interior layout and architecture

The brick facade of the extension matches the architectural style of the adjacent buildings and of Frederiksberg in general. A lighter shade of clay, however, was chosen for the bricks to give the building a contemporary feel.

The interior decoration and furnishings of all courtrooms help create a bright and welcoming atmosphere. At the same time all windows in the courtrooms are placed above eye level to guard the rooms from prying eyes.

The basement parking under the building contains, apart from staff and visitor parking spaces, a separate entrance for defendants who arrive at the court in a police van.

Atrium as a source of daylight and a unifying space

All users of the building, with the exception of the defendants, have access to an oblong atrium, which divides the five-storey structure into two halves. The atrium runs the full length of the building from south to north and functions as a source of natural light to all floors, including the courtrooms on the two lower floors.

Sustainable energy solutions

Like most other new buildings the extension to the courthouse in Frederiksberg incorporates a number of energy-saving features. The spacious atrium is designed to make optimum use of daylight, and the building has solar shading, thermoactive floors and solar cells.

The building also incorporates a natural ventilation system, making use of the large atrium to provide air circulation throughout the building. A benefit of the compact form of the building is that it reduces heat consumption due to its minimal surface area.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014