Practical, fair – and a touch intricate

By Jakob Fälling

Retten i Roskilde
 

Roskilde Courthouse is authoritative and serious, yet also light and accessible to all citizens. Behind its otherwise conventional facade, a number of peculiarities await visitors on the inside.

Readers of Kafka know that a courthouse is a murky place full of winding staircases. Roskilde Courthouse is quite the opposite. For the most part.
Entering the courthouse, you find yourself in a bright and welcoming foyer. The courtrooms stretch along the outer walls of the building in a clear and simple layout that allows daylight into most of the rooms. 

The foyer is called “The Square” because it is modeled on the ideal of a free urban space where everyone can meet on equal terms. 

A grand staircase rises from The Square up to the next floors of the building, which are accessible to curious guests. From here, you can look down on The Square and enjoy the view to Roskilde Cathedral, which is at the very center of the city and serves an important role in relation to the location and architecture of the courthouse. 

With its red bricks and golden “crown”, the courthouse is a modern version of the older official buildings found in Roskilde’s historical city center. The courthouse’s tower structure facing the highway is an echo of the cathedral’s towers.

Behind the surface of the courthouse’s apparent openness is a hidden network of corridors and strange connections. For ethical reasons, judges and court officials enter the courtroom without interacting with the other court participants, which demands a lot of the architecture if you also want to let daylight into the room. In Roskilde Courthouse, the judges’ corridor to the courtrooms is often longer and more intricate than those used by the accused and gallery observers. These corridors and staircases are rarely seen by civilian guests of the courthouse.

Facts

  • Roskilde Courthouse is decorated with art borrowed from museums including Arken Art Museum. 
  • Offices for court staff are located on the top floors of the building. These floors are not open to the public.
  • If imprisoned persons are to appear before the court, they are led up to the courtrooms via the building’s basement.

Surroundings

Roskilde Courthouse is located close to the converted Silo 1, which is now a youth housing complex. 

The former racetrack, Roskilde Ring, is right around the corner. 

Another neighbor is Musicon, Roskilde’s creative neighborhood and representative of the new Roskilde, featuring a golden Ragnarock Museum and a range of other attractions. Roskilde Station and the city center are also within a five-minute walk.

Area

Roskilde-en

Country and City

Roskilde

Architect

JJW Arkitekter

Landscape architect

Thing og Wainø Landskab

Client

Bygningsstyrelsen

Engineer

Oluf Jørgensen A/S

Contractor

GVL
Renex Gruppen
Kirkebjerg

Built

2014