New Carlsberg Foundation Domicile

2015-2018 | København, Danmark

Project: Refurbishment of the floor for the executive board
Client: New Carlsberg Foundation
Size.: 900 m2
Status: Completed
Architect: ELGAARD Architecture
Design: Salto & Sigsgaard
Type: Refurbishment and modernisation
Service: Full service consultancy
Listed: Yes

The New Carlsberg Foundation’s domicile, the brewery complex, has been transformed into a contemporary workplace focusing on openness, collaboration, art and communicating the work of the foundation. ELGAARD Architecture was appointed to create spatial transformations and connections in three of the buildings within the complex, and in collaboration with the designers, Salto & Sigsgaard create new and flexible spatial experiences through movable as well permanent elements designed uniquely for the brewery complex.

The old brewery complex from the 1790s in Brolæggerstræde in Copenhagen is the breeding place where brewer J.C. Jacobsen founded the brewery which later would become Carlsberg. The brewery complex has been refurbished several times, and last time was in 1973-1975 by the architect Wilhelm Wohlert. Wohlert’s transformation was concurrently radical yet gentle. He performed radical and modern interventions within the existing but managed to show gentleness and respect for the typology and cohesive expression of the buildings, as well as for the spatial qualities of the courtyard.

The transformation which has just been completed can be perceived as a further interpretation of Wohlert’s refurbishment and his approach. Again, we see a radical change demonstrated through gentleness and respect for the existing. A general problem with the former refurbishment was insufficient space. By re-arranging the main functions within the house and including the 5th floor in the front house facing Brolgæggerstræde, the functionality of the house is optimised through amplified flexibility in the ways the house can be used. The refurbishment also offers an increased logical partition and spatial organisation of the daily activities within the building referring to e.g. internal collaboration, project work stations, and workshops.

The project is completed using a differentiated approach to refurbishment and restoration: spatial links have been transformed, elements removed, recycled and added. Besides making practical situations much easier, a strong objective has also been to create value and coherence between the existing and new, making the architectural expression sharper in a way where its identity and history to greater extent support and mark the DNA and daily work of The New Carlsberg Foundation. The work and internal very informal culture of the foundation can hence be interpreted and understood directly in the refurbished interior of the building.

Wohlert’s refurbishment was influenced by an academic style of representation, solemnity and historical references – in terms of spatial layout and furnishings. The latest transformation takes its starting point and refers numerous places to Wohlert’s approach and spatial elements, but focuses on light, openness, kindness, generosity, appearing unpretentious and transparent. The focal point for the refurbishment has been transit, storage, and display of the artwork, and The New Carlsberg Foundation’s domicile is, in other words, a house in which artists will feel at home.

The brewery complex as a unity and especially the rooms of The New Carlsberg Foundation gives an insight into the history of the development of Danish architecture and design with significant fingerprints of e.g. Kaare Klint, Wilhelm Wohlert and latest ELGAARD Architecture, Kasper Salto, and Thomas Sigsgaard. The building is crammed with stories, but it is significant for the place that the people who have sat their mark on the building has come to an understanding that renewal shall be introduced with great empathy and gentleness for the tradition and with respect to the masters on whose shoulders we stand. The development story of the building is concurrently a tale of the ambitions and uncompromising nature of The New Carlsberg Foundation for the client: at any point in time insisting on first-class professional and artistic quality.

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