Inspired by Danish modernism, the Danish architects COBE have reinterpreted the historic architecture of Steen Eiler Rasmussen in its Tingbjerg Library and Culture House. COBE has created a new social and cultural destination that invites community interaction, engagement and signals a new urban transformation. The Tingbjerg Library and Culture House is a new landmark building that will be a new gathering point for people of all ages and backgrounds in Copenhagen.
The new library and culture house has been designed with input from the residents of the Tingbjerg community to create a new destination at the heart of their neighbourhood. COBE’s aim is for the project to serve as an urban catalyst and an architectural framework for social and cultural activities, thereby contributing to a positive development of the local community on the fringe of Copenhagen. Before we even began our work the bar was set high.
We wanted to create a new destination in Tingbjerg that respects both its surroundings through choice of materials and shape while at the same time creating a strong identity of its own. The facade looks like a building turned inside out displaying its many activities to the surroundings. The architecture is intended as an open invitation for people to come inside, while at the same time promoting safety in the area and also developing Tingbjerg’s unique character,” says Dan Stubbergaard, architect MAA and founder of COBE.
A Typeset Case
Tingbjerg Library and Culture House has been conceived as a large wedge-shaped shell. It has been built as an extension to the Tingbjerg school, and with an angled roof sloping down to the school’s entrance. In plan and in section the building is shaped like a wedge and at its narrowest the new building is only 1.5 metres wide. Through the transparent glass facade inlaid into the wide face of the wedge, the activities inside can be “read” much like an old-fashioned typeset case – which has been placed on end.
All activities are visible from within the building inside and animate the glass facade from without. Conceived as an open invitation to the residents of Tingbjerg, COBE has designed a building that embraces social interaction and enhances a strong sense of local community. Furthermore, the building is a contemporary evolution of the identity and history of Tingbjerg, while promoting safety through a high degree of transparency in the building. In addition, its proximity to the school provides the possibility of hosting both play and education for children of all ages – both during and after school hours.
A Cultural Mountain Village
The heart of the building is defined by the wedge form – that becomes an open foyer – extending three-dimensionally into the building as a grand unifying space. Shifting floor plates with niches and balconies on the project’s four levels are reminiscent of a small mountain village clinging to a hillside. The design makes it possible for users to participate in social activities or to find a quiet spot within a niche to immerse themselves in a good read. The building is characterised by its flexibility and robustness, making it adaptable for a multitude of uses – from local association meetings, to lectures and even dance classes.
In keeping with Tingbjerg’s rich modernist architectural language, COBE has chosen materials that have been used in the neighbourhood. The project’s cladding in yellow brick baguettes and its sloping roof pay homage to the historic surroundings. The interior is clad in warm wooden plywood lamellas that form a dialogue with the brick baguettes outside. Conceived of a seamless shell, that attempts to blend in, but also challenge Tingbjerg’s materiality and formal expression.
Reinterpreting The Architectural Heritage
The community of Tingbjerg itself was designed and built in the 1950s by the architect, urban planner and theorist Steen Eiler Rasmussen together with the landscape architect Carl Theodor Sørensen. Their conception for the planned community was a visionary and modern neighbour hood north-west from Copenhagen – complete with its own school, church, pedestrian shopping
street and a housing area – all constructed with warm yellow brick and surrounded by green recreational areas.
Eiler Rasmussen’s idea was to offer a higher quality of living than that of the congested city centre, which at that time offered cramped and often unsanitary living conditions. Since its inception, Tingbjerg’s reputation as a model community has severely declined and today the neighbourhood is on the Danish government’s list of marginalised areas with high crime rates, the so-called ‘ghetto list’. At the same time, Tingbjerg as a district and neighbourhood is listed as an area of national significance, and Eiler Rasmussen’s work is regarded as a cornerstone in Danish modernist architecture and city planning.
The Tingbjerg Library and Culture House is the result of a unique collaboration between the City of Copenhagen, the social housing corporations fsb and SAB and COBE. The building serves as a new library, a cultural and community centre for both the larger neighbourhood and the local housing corporation residents, as well as the students of the Tingbjerg School. This collaboration along with the involvement of local residents in the design process has resulted in a new meeting place and destination in Tingbjerg. Since the first draft of the program brief by Rambøll Architecture in 2008, the focus has been on integrating the various stakeholders and citizens in the area. Source by COBE
- Location: Tingbjerg, Skolesiden 4, DK-2700 Brønshøj, Denmark
- Architect: COBE
- Interior design: Rune Fjord Studio
- Landscape architect: Kragh & Berglund
- Engineer: Søren Jensen Consulting Engineers
- Contractors: C.C. Bruun Enterprise, Kemp & Lauritzen and Juul & Nielsen
- Resident involvement: Rambøll Architecture
- Clients: City of Copenhagen and the housing corporations fsb and SAB
- Size: 1,500 m2 (building) + 2,500 m2 (outdoor areas)
- Project: The facilities include a library, meeting rooms, a café, workshops and a hall for concerts and other events
- Status: First prize in competition in 2013, realised in 2018
- Photographs: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST, Courtesy of COBE
Article by Marco Rinaldi