Jarmers Plads 2: Invaded by Plunderers and Cars

Commercial

Jarmers Plads
Photo: Per Munkgaard Thorsen, Arkitekturbilleder.dk
 

This office building is a vestige to power and wealth. But it stands in an extremely vulnerable spot in Danish history, and was even designed to humbly wrap around the building it replaced.

Today, it faces an open plaza and the city center along a busy, six-lane thoroughfare. In the 1200s, this area was a fortress, but right here was a weak point, which a prince and his men exploited to plunder all of Copenhagen. There is something vulnerable about this corner with the towering office building.

It was built in the 1950s for Scandinavia’s largest financial institution under peculiar circumstances. There was already a nice office building in the classical style, which was loved by everyone. But the road was to be expanded, so the building had to be demolished and the firm was forced to erect a new building to make room for more cars.

With one caveat, however: the first building could not be torn down until the new building was ready for occupation. The architects, Christian, Erik and Aage Holst, came up with a wide range of proposals for a design that could wrap around the old building. When the new building was finally ready, the entire firm was able to move in over just a few days, and only then was the original building demolished.

This building has been ignored by Danish architectural history, seemingly for no good reason. From the street, it is easy to overlook how beautifully the building harmonizes with Ørstedsparken. And it is also worth a visit if you enjoy truly fine materials and superb craftsmanship. For instance, note the geometrical patterns of the marble facade. You won’t find that anywhere else in Copenhagen.

Facts:

  • Today, the building is occupied by Realdania, a foundation with the stated aim of improving the built environment. Realdania’s funds stem from the sale of the mortgage bank Realkredit Danmark. Visitors are welcome in the lobby, where there is reading material, coffee and a peek at the building’s interior.
  • This was one of the first modern office buildings in Copenhagen and was designed for the credit association, Østifternes Kreditforening , by an architectural studio run by a father and two sons.
  • The building is made of concrete clad with marble, copper, brass and teak.
  • It stands on top of Copenhagen’s original moat, so hundreds of foundation piles were required to secure the foundation in the soft soil.
  • Opposite the building, you will find a remnant of the ruins of Copenhagen’s fortress wall from the 1520s.
  • Jarmers Plads is so renowned in international skateboarding circles that American shoe manufacturer Vans named one of their Old Skool sneaker styles after the square.

Nearby

Ørstedsparken is a beautiful oasis surrounding a little lake and situated just behind Jarmers Plads. It is a peaceful place with a children’s playground near the entrance.

 

Area

Vesterbro

Architect

Aage Holst
Christian Holst
Erik Holst

Built

1959