Elgaard Architecture has been appointed as restoration consultant for Jeudan A/S on the restoration and re-establishment of the interiors of Bernstorff’s Palæ, 42 Bredgade in the city centre of Copenhagen.
Based on the interior from 1829 by Jørgen Hansen Koch the beletage of the building has been restored and fitted out including new colour scheme, which is executed in close cooperation with Copenhagen Conservator by Anne Simonsen and the painters of Jeudan.
Furthermore, the task incorporates the reconstruction of the lost Daily Dining Room, as well as the restoration of the impressive Gobelin hall in Rococo style still testifying the splendour of the mansion, when it was erected in the 1750s.
1250 København K
Back to the original surfaces
The Beletage of the mansion has by and largely throughout the entire 20th century until 2022 been utilised as court rooms and offices for the Eastern High Court (Østre Landsret), which pre restoration could be seen in all interiors of the floor: all flooring were covered by carpets or lino, all walls were painted using plastic paint, and everywhere unsightly cable trays in white plastic and other installations could be seen.
In connection with a change of tenant, Jeudan wanted to refurbish the interior surfaces of the floor with respect for the historical qualities of the building, compromising recreation of the ornate Empire style painted ceilings dating back to the refurbishment by Jørgen Hansen Koch in 1829.
The floors were liberated of its lino and carpets, and we subsequently devised a plan for the refurbishment and replacement of the flooring.
The restoration strategy is based on the main conservation values from The Agency for Culture and Palaces’ (Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen) listing description. The restoration as well as reconstruction, mirrors the traditional strategy in regard to choice of material and colour scheme, while new-built fixed furniture such as kitchenettes and toilet facilities have been carried out in a contemporary mode of expression respecting and consolidating the architecture and original material palette.
In connection to the refurbishment of the Beletage the conservation authorities required that the Daily Dining Rom, which was demolished without listed planning consent in 1920, was reconstructed.
The colours of the empire recreated
The new colour scheme of the empire ceilings is executed according to the conservator’s colour findings from the Hansen Koch’s refurbishment.
From the findings we have conjointly developed the final colour scheme, with generous assistance from the painters. Working on the project there has been a need and an opportunity for the interpretation of the team, as the original distemper solely was conserved in the innermost corners and flourishes. The discoveries that have been made do however match the principles of the colour scheme by Mr. Koch, which can be seen among other places at Fasangården at Frederiksberg Have and in Frederik VIII’s Mansion at Amalienborg.
With the correct colour scheme as our foundation, we have been able to extract inspiration from Mr. Koch for colour schemes using cool colours facing north and warm colours facing south, as well as the theory of ‘balances contrasts’ according to Goethe’s colour wheel.
Before commencing the project, all ceilings appeared white-painted with plastic paint, and felt was applied at all smooth surfaces.
Cleaning of all felt and plastic paint is estimated too cost-intensive and carries a risk for damages to the stucco ornaments leading to an agreement with The Agency for Culture and Palaces’ (Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen) to prime the existing surfaces with a thin coat of Archaia distemper primer, subsequently painted using a moss colour. When the ceilings will need to be painted in the future, the moss colour can be washed off and the Archaia can be applied as primer yet again. Employing this compromise enables us to re-establish the interior so they can be fully experienced as when Mr. Koch lived, meanwhile the project economy and the client’s case has been complied with.
When the newer flooring of linoleum, carpets and vinyl was removed we found five different types of flooring on the beletage: Versailles pattern parquet flooring, presumably dating back to 1756 where the mansion was built, bone herring parquet flooring from the 20th century, an older wooden flooring and a newer wooden flooring as well as cork flooring on top of a wooden flooring.
The joist system occurred, where visible, all in good condition. The Versailles flooring was restored using wood from a flooring which unfortunately were too damaged to restore. A couple of the herring bone parquet flooring was restored and preserved; unfortunately, a large part of the flooring was damaged to an extent that they were reinstalled. For the project we designed a reinterpreted pattern parquet in four different types to tie together the Versailes flooring to the herring bone flooring across the beletage. The four different types are alle completed in oak and based on the same square of 600×600 millimetres but are installed differently according to the scale and geometry of the individual room.
Under the new flooring a subfloor of pine tree boards was installed. On top of that a fibre cloth with a thin layer of floor putty. The fibre cloth secured that the floor putty can easily be removed and makes it possible to continue restoration of the flooring in the future within the rooms where budget and schedule at first was not possible. The skewness of the existing flooring has been preserved within the new flooring preventing alignments of doors etc.
the Daily Dining Hall
The Daily Dining Hall, as several of the other rooms on the beletage; was decorated by Hansen Koch in 1829 in Empire style. It was abundantly decorated using grand fixed wall pieces by the famous flower painter of the time Professor J.L. Jensen.
Even though the mansion was listed in 1918 the Dining Hall was nonetheless demolished in 1919-1920 and converted into offices, by which the interior, e.g the paintings, disappeared and were forgotten for posterity.
At the start-up of the project the only knowledge of how the rooms had looked originally, originated from a single historical photo in poor resolution. The two offices, which in 1920 had replaced the dining hall, had polished whitewashed ceilings and linoleum flooring. But during the demolition of the suspended ceilings remains of the cassette ceiling dating from 1829 and a small piece of the stucco cornice appeared; both sufficiently well conserved to form the basis of a reconstruction of the entire cassette ceiling and the top part of the stucco corniche within the Dining Hall.
The ceiling was completed utilising traditional materials: boards, reed mesh, lime plaster and gypsum. As the colour conservators did not find colour traces on the remains of the cassette ceiling, we must assume that this ceiling as the only one by Mr. Koch in the beletage, has been whitewashed. The lower part of the stucco corniche – with the palmette frieze – was unfortunately missing, but the historical photo of the original dining hall, which came to light during the research, was able to form the basis of the reconstruction of the cornice by the stucco worker.
Lost paintings rehung
In 1989 large wall pieces by J. L. Jensen were accidently found rolled up in the basement of the mansion, starting a year long discussion on whether the paintings were be included in the listing and whether the conservation authorities in that case were able to order the owners to reconstruct the dining hall and rehang the paintings.
Only in 2012 the The Agency for Culture and Palaces (Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen) decided that the paintings were included in the listing and therefore without consent had been removed from the building and as well as the legalisation had to be met when building activities in the future will be carried out which can substantiate a re-establishment.
In 2018 Jeudan A/S acquired Bernstorff’s Mansion, and with the ongoing reconstruction of the dining hall as well as the conservators’ restoration of the paintings by J. L. Jensen, it is now ensured that the interior of the dining hall presents itself as it did at the time of Jørgen Hansen Kock.
The Gobelin Hall
The large Gobelin Hall in rococo style, which originates from the construction of the mansion in the 1750s, is one of the finest in the country from that period. The flooring is made of parquet in a Versailles pattern originating from the time of the construction of the building, which turned out to be in a relatively good condition and possible to restore despite of the unfortunate repair work from early times.
The magnificent fireplace with candleholders and a mirror is carried out by the goldsmith Francois Thomas Germain, who was one of Louis VI’s favorite interior artists.
The walls of the hall were originally covered with dramatical Gobelin tapestries, which were sold on auction at the beginning of the 20th century and bought by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Good will has ensured the Gobelin tapestries to be lend out to the mansion however is has turned out that the tapestries unfortunately have been too fragile to be rehung.
Today the walls of the Gobelin Hall are hung with wallpaper with a golden damask woven textile in embellished wall frames, which compared to the Gobelin tapestries you will experience to be flat and static. During the restoration process it was decided to change the textile with a new artistic decoration of the wall areas, which will reinterpret the original special effect and perspective of the Gobelins and recreate the dramatical special character of the Rococo hall. A sketch project has been shaped which forms the basis for the fund application.
Bernstorff Palace on the corner of Frederiksgade and Bredgade in central Copenhagen was built in 1752-56 by the Danish count and Minister of Foreign Affairs J.H.E. Bernstorff to designs by architect J. G. Rosenberg.
The mansion is centrally located in the King Frederik V’s district of Frederiksstaden, which was designed by the architect Nicolai Eigtved at the King’s commission, and which was to mark the Royal House of Oldenburg’s 400 years on the Danish throne.
Its location right between Amalienborg Palaces and the Marble Church and with its richly equipped interiors, Bernstorff’s Palace was and is one of the finest examples of Danish architecture from the mid-1700s.