Concrete and glass become space and light

The preferred legal adviser to the Danish government Poul Schmith/Kammeradvokaten has moved to a new domicile in the former goods terminal at Kalvebod Brygge, the waterfront area in the Vesterbro district of Copenhagen. The building dates from 1967, has been given a new lease of life with large windows and inviting materials.

Photo: Helene Høyer Mikkelsen

The 180-metre-long building is known as KB 32 after its address, and has always been notable for its brutalist architecture and lack of charm. However, extensive refurbishment by the architect Ole Hagen has accentuated the character of the building as well as its potential.

“We wanted to be respectful of the original architecture by building on and reinforcing the style conceived back in the 1960s,” says Simon Natanael Svensson, partner at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects.

The five floors are occupied by the firm of lawyers Poul Schmith/Kammeradvokaten as well as the Danish National Archives. The concrete structure opened up the possibility of a multifunctional layout, where closed functions are located in the middle of the building, in combination with more open and fluid spaces along the facades with 4.5-metre-high ceilings. The windows, which are 3.8 metres high on both sides of the building, allow daylight to flood into the rooms.

Carefully chosen materials

Concrete beams frame the space and add an appealing sense of rhythm to the interior facade. The columns are free-standing, so that the curtains can be gathered behind them, and the deep windowsills can be used as recessed window seats.

White Troldtekt acoustic panels are installed on the ceilings along the facades to convey an air of calm while reflecting the light and absorbing the sound. Light fixtures are placed between the panels and aligned with the concrete columns – as an exquisite detail of the transformation.

The floors are made of solid wood, which further contributes to the Nordic feel, and the raw, warm surfaces contrast beautifully with and frame the classic furniture arrangements and the numerous works of art.