Copenhagen Gallery

Stokhusgade Infill

A seven-metre-wide, seven-storey housing block has been erected between historical buildings in Copenhagen's inner city.

It is not an easy task to design new buildings for the historical quarters of Copenhagen. First, you have to take into account a diverse range of building typologies. Second, space is very cramped. The width of the building site of only seven metres makes this project no exception. Holscher Arkitekter have taken up the challenge with an ambition of creating a relationship with the existing buildings in the area, while at the same time adding a distinctive, new visual element.

Old neighbours

The new addition to the street stands shoulder to shoulder with a couple of old buildings. On one side is a six-floor brick building from 1862 and on the other a three-floor townhouse from 1872. So a major part of the task was to deal with the difference in height between the adjacent buildings. The building to the west is significantly lower in height, and the new development benefits from the free space by changing its orientation from north-south to west at the sixth floor level, whereby the dwellings gain a view to the west over the Østre Anlæg park and Statens Museum for Kunst (the Danish national gallery).

Details convey visual coherence

Apart from glass, the predominant material used on the facade is tombac - a copper alloy that patinates with age turning into a dark contrast to the many verdigrised copper roofs of Copenhagen.

The tombac forms a vertical band running from street level up the front of the building, where it changes direction and continues around the building to the courtyard at the back. The band is made of sheets detailed with stamped circular rounded knobs as a modern version of the joints of the surrounding buildings. Moreover, the knobs define the facade at another scale which can only be experienced at close quarters. Also, Holscher Arkitekter let the floor structure of the adjacent buildings continue in the horizontal lines of their house.

Not for shy people

You may have to be something of an exhibitionist to live at Stokhusgade 4b. Or have a great need for daylight. The large glazed areas in the facade definitely do not offer much shelter from curious glances from the street - instead they provide abundant natural daylight and, especially on the topmost floors, views over Stokhusgade and Østre Anlæg. Much attention has been given to the balconies' floors and balustrades of glass which evoke a sense of lightness and elegance, but may be a challenge for residents with a fear of heights.

Commercial facilities bring life to streets

Stokhusgade usually does not throb with life during the day, and Holscher Arkitekter therefore chose to assign the building's ground floor and basement to commercial facilities. According to the architects the vision has been to create a building characterised by dynamism and movement, which conveys an impression of openness, privacy and seeks a dialogue with life in the street. A changeable house offering different experiences during daytime and nighttime, and a house allowing its residents to leave their marks.

"LILLE ARNE" AND SHEET METAL AWARD

In the Architects' Association of Denmark they were so enthusiastic over Holscher Arkitekter's infill project that they decided to present the building with the "Little Arne Award" (named after the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen) in January 2008. The award is presented annually in alternating categories - in this case rising stars in Danish architecture.

Furthermore, the house won Dansk Stålinstituts Tyndpladepris (The Sheet Metal Prize awarded by the Danish Steel Institute), which was awarded for the first time in 2007 with the aim to encourage Danish architects to use sheet metal in building. The honour was accompanied by a cash reward of DKK 100,000.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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