Denmark Architecture in the 1980’s

By | December 18, 2021

Even a country with a traditionally conservative mentality and suspicious of external influences, such as Denmark, became involved, in the early 1980s, in postmodern international conformity. Thus, alongside a type of cooperative construction of an entirely local nature, a design has been encouraged which, favoring ” contextualisms ” and indiscriminate uses of historicist symbols and ” memories ”, intends to represent, in stone and wood, the discontinuity and incoherence of the affluent contemporary society. NO. Lund, architectural theorist, argues against a document presented in 1983 by the Planning Directorate (the highest Danish body).

Lund justifies this proposal by ferociously attacking the ideology of zoning and hoping, for the future, for a compact reconversion of what has so far been physically dispersed in the territory. But, as mentioned, coexists with this tendency to revive the generous and idealistic trend of participatory management in the planning of the natural and built environment, with the clear aim of defending and enhancing its characteristics and qualities. The postulate roots its propositions in a consolidated civil custom; however, at least in the problematic area of ​​urban renewal, the results do not seem to live up to expectations. For Denmark travel information, please check

In fact, the ambitious project, implemented through the definition of specific nuclei – devolved to prepare the restructuring of albeit delimited building areas through the proactive intervention of the residents – resulted in “dialectal” images, between the romantic and the fairytale, for the more inspired by the style of the Nordic villages. Following this perspective, a construction standard of high territorial densities prevails in the public sector with, on the contrary, very low building heights: the criterion of ” experimental low houses ”.

The exegetes of ” democratic participation ” have grafted onto these remote schemes so-called experiences of neighborhood and collectivized spheres, carried out after 1968 in various cooperative examples.

The law for public funding of 1980 was therefore extended to a greater number of cases, using bodies divided into 20-30 residential units centered on common services. In Jystrup (studio ” Vandkunsten ”) the idea was so radicalized that even the kitchens and living rooms were extracted from the family aggregates and, consequently, placed in the community area, protected by special glazed porticoes (1985).

An important if only dimensional initiative was carried out in Høje Tåstrup, west of Copenhagen, by the studio of J. Blegvad, developing, around the new central station, a symmetrical settlement with a main axis, which figuratively repeats neo-nationalist dictates. Neorationalism, in the European wake, finds adepts ready to relaunch a cultural heritage that has in some ways been dissipated; nevertheless the results are sometimes tainted by twentieth century falls.

Shyly, with a lexicon that is therefore not entirely mature, groups of architects appear on the Danish horizon who embrace the achievements of the best world avant-garde: from G. Behnisch to FO Gehry, from the virtuosity of the Viennese Coop Himmelblau to the deregulation of G. Domenig. Among the exponents: S. Tönsager who in his Café Paradis in Århus in 1986 approaches the deconstructivist antigeometries of the Himmelblau; Bente and Ernst who have aroused considerable interest with their recent portal in Copenhagen, and F. Skude who offers fantastic forms.

Finally, the research of the ” biomorphs ” (always present in Scandinavia) that mediate the organic lesson with the theosophical principles inspiring the Goetheanum of R. Steiner should be noted. The Danes who now operate mainly abroad deserve a mention. In addition to the well-known J. Utzon and the studio of O. Arup, the structuralist poetic who died in 1988, two elements of A. Jacobsen ‘s atelier, O. Weitling – his partner – and the young partner Dissing, continue his activity, particularly in Germany where they have won international competitions. They were responsible for the IBM building in Hamburg and the Düsseldorf art museum (1986); JO von Spreckelsen, in 1984, received the first prize for the cubic triumphal arch of the Parisian district of La Défense.

Denmark Architecture in the 1980's