Daells Varehus: From Department Store to Design Hotel
The iconic department store on Nørregade in central Copenhagen, fondly referred to as “Dalle Valle”, is remembered as an institution that dressed the Danes for decades. While the store closed its doors years ago, the building still stands as a contribution to Copenhagen’s Modernist architectural history.
Daells Varehus was founded in 1910 by the Daell Brothers as a post order company. In 1912, the company moved to Nørregade 12, with steadily growing sales.
With this growth came the need for more space, and so the company took over the neighboring premises.
The brothers then held an architectural competition to design the new department store on the corner of Nørregade and Krystalgade, which Vilhelm Lauritzen, together with Fritz Schlegel, won in 1922.
The building was completed in 1924, and the department store’s popularity continued to grow. Just four years later, the store again needed more space. This time, it was decided to start fresh.
The neighboring building was torn down to create a new department store with the same architects as previously. However, it was still necessary to show consideration to the historical buildings in the neighborhood, and the times were not yet ready for the new Modernist trends. The architects were therefore bound by the original architectural design.
The building we know today was the result of yet another expansion in 1933. The department store again needed more space – this time only with Vilhelm Lauritzen at the architectural helm. By then, Modernism had gained favor and both Daell brothers were enamored by the modernist architectural style. They therefore decided that for this expansion, Daells Varehus should be entirely rebuilt. The old building was torn down to make way for a large, modern department store.
Lauritzen designed a modern, minimalist facade with long ribbon windows. The facade was plastered in a brown shade. The white pillars between the windows were retained, but cleverly hidden behind white paint so the ribbon windows appeared unbroken. Daylight flowed in through the broad windows filling the spaces. From inside, there were clear views to the city streets outside.
Home of Fashionable Hotel
At the height of the department store’s success in the 1960s and 1970s, half of all Danish households received the Daells Christmas Catalog in the mail. Today, the building is recognized as part of Danish cultural heritage.
Daells Varehus continued to thrive until the 1980s, employing as many as 2,500 people in its heyday. After 13 years of operating at a loss, the store closed its doors in 1999. The building has since been completely renovated, including reviving the original red-brown facade. Today, the building is home to the fashionable Hotel Sankt Petri as well as street-level cafés, restaurants and shops.
In 2007, the nickname “Dalle Valle” was appropriated as the name of a chain of cafés. The first Dalle Valle Café opened on the corner of Fiolstræde and Krystalgade – taking its name from the beloved department store that had once stood on the same corner.