Scan Magazine, Issue 117, October 2018

Page 40

Scan Magazine  |  Special Theme  |  Nordic Architecture & Design – Denmark

Old corner building facade.

Pushing the limits of prefabricated luxury Transforming an iconic building in the heart of Copenhagen is a dream job for many architects, but it also involves nightmarish restrictions and challenges. When creating a new facade for the historical Illum department store, Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects needed a plan that could be realised within a restricted time and space frame, and without renewing the municipal district plan. By Signe Hansen  |  Photos: Rasmus Hjortshøj

“The Marching Band of the Royal Life Guards defined our work space,” says partner Simon Svensson with a smile, but he is actually quite serious. A challenging condition of the new Illum facade project was a set safety distance from the Band of the Royal Life Guards marching by Amagertorv every week. A strict time plan posed another challenge, as the owner of Illum needed to realise the new facade without renewing the municipal 40  |  Issue 117  |  October 2018

district plan. “There was simply no room for mistakes,” Svensson stresses. “Basically, we had to make a new facade with specific requirements at a building site that couldn’t exist.” Modern, yet respectfully integrated into the surroundings of the old city of Copenhagen, Illum’s exterior was radically transformed from what was previously an anonymous dark facade. The

result, however, shows little evidence of these challenges.

Pushing the limits of prefabrication So, how was it done? By pushing the physical limits of prefabricated facade elements. Placed on top of a light limestone cladding, large, prefabricated dark bronze boxes now add depth and texture to a previously smooth facade. “The most important thing was that the facade did not appear as an offsite prefab construction. So, we had to ask ourselves how to work with something of this scope and simultaneously challenge the perception of a prefabricated facade,” says Svensson. “We had to go bigger, heavier and wider than ever. When we talked to manufacturers, they were initially con-

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