A tribute to the beautiful buildings of Copenhagen

14:e aug. 2020

For over 100 years, the City of Copenhagen has presented a building award for particularly distinguished buildings and urban environments.

Meet Copenhagen’s City Architect Camilla van Deurs, who explains how the city’s architecture has changed over time – and see the winning projects from spring 2020.

Sound-absorbing cement-bonded wood wool panels from Troldtekt are often used as acoustic ceilings in schools and educational institutions

Anyone who has ever visited or lived in Copenhagen knows that the Danish capital is full of world-class architecture. As well as beautifying the urban landscape, the buildings – dating from different periods and in a variety of architectural styles – testify to a long and interesting history.

Since 1903 the City of Copenhagen has presented awards for beautiful buildings, landscaping and urban spaces in Copenhagen. The Copenhagen Building Award is presented in four categories: New buildings, restoration, refurbishment and urban environments.

“We present the awards to honour the architects, engineers and developers behind the projects. Also, we’re keen to support projects and urban spaces that are of particular benefit to the city and its citizens.”

So says Camilla van Deurs, City Architect of the City of Copenhagen and chair of the building award jury.

Sound-absorbing cement-bonded wood wool panels from Troldtekt are often used as acoustic ceilings in schools and educational institutions

School renovation among this year’s winners

The list of awarded buildings for 2020 was announced in April. Grøndalsvænget School was named one of the ‘winning projects’ along with CPH Village (Refshaleøen), Klarahus Produktionkøkken (De Gamles By) and the Elephant House (De Gamles By).

Grøndalsvænget School in Copenhagen has undergone thorough renovation and expansion, all designed by JJW Arkitekter. The school now has a fully modern learning environment where the original qualities have been preserved – and where the indoor climate is top notch.

>> Read more about Grøndalsvænget School

In addition to the venerable building award, this year the City of Copenhagen has also presented a people’s choice award for the third year in a row. The award allows the citizens themselves to vote for a project that, in their eyes, makes an especially positive contribution to Copenhagen’s urban spaces. This year, the people’s choice award went to Hotel Ottilia (Carlsberg Byen).

The history that lives in the bricks

About 600 projects have been nominated over the years, and more than 250 have been awarded. The winning projects testify to the representative trends of their times and tell the story of the changing needs of society,” explains Camilla van Deurs.

“The beginning of the 20th century was characterised, in particular, by the creation of beautiful decorations on building façades and interiors. After the Second World War and into the 1950s, as the welfare state emerged, public buildings began to shoot up and gain recognition as genuine architecture. Therefore, public housing, schools and water towers were often given awards during that period,” she says, adding:

“The 1970s and 80s were an economically depressed time in Denmark, hugely impacted by the oil crisis. It affected Copenhagen in that not many new building projects were embarked upon. Instead, the focus was on reusing buildings and restoring existing ones,” says the city architect, who continues her description of Copenhagen’s architectural history:

“The 1990s saw the advent of pedestrianisation and upgrades to urban spaces such as Strøget, Copenhagen’s main shopping street. By this time, it was no longer only buildings that were considered for the awards, but also urban spaces. Around the turn of the millennium and throughout the 00s, many of the awards went to major cultural buildings. And they are not only for the benefit of Copenhageners, but also represent major national investments, such as the Opera House, the Royal Danish Playhouse and the Copenhagen Metro,” she says.

The cultural buildings awarded included (in 2017) the renovation of Folketeatret in Copenhagen.

Troldtekt, Folketeatret
Troldtekt acoustic ceilings are the natural choice when wanting to ensure superior acoustics and a healthy indoor climate in, for example, office buildings

Focus on community and sustainability

We have now embarked on a fresh decade, and it will be interesting to see what will happen in the 2020s.

Camilla van Deurs explains that in recent years there has been a strong focus on sustainable buildings. In 2017, for example, the DGNB-certified office building Turbinehuset received the award. And now yet another dimension seems to have come to the fore.

“Trends in recent years point to projects that address societal problems such as climate protection, protection against terrorism, sustainability and material circularity. In addition, many of the nominated projects also have a social angle. In one way or another, they testify to the generosity of neighbourhoods and support a sense of community – serving almost as community centres. I think we’re going to see a lot more of that.”

Anyone can nominate any project for the Copenhagen Building Award. But very few of the nominated projects meet the requirements. Because it’s not enough just to be beautiful.

“In addition to the aesthetics, we’re looking just as much for robust, sustainable and long-lasting construction. The quality of the craftsmanship and the choice of materials are of great importance. This is what makes the winning projects remarkable.”

FACTS: About the Copenhagen Building Award

  • Since 1903 the City of Copenhagen has presented the Copenhagen Building Award for the most beautiful buildings in the Danish capital.
  • The spring 2020 award winners are: CPH Village, Klarahus Produktionskøkken, Grøndalsvængets School and the Elephant House.
  • In 2018, the people’s choice award was presented for the first time. Axel Towers won the people’s choice award that year, while in 2019 it went to Amaryllis Hus, and in 2020 to Hotel Ottilia.
A tribute to the beautiful buildings of Copenhagen | Troldtekt THEME

Camilla van Deurs, City Architect of the City of Copenhagen.

THEME: Design and Innovation in Architecture

Innovation must ensure that architecture is constantly evolving – functionally and aesthetically. Most people spend 80-90 per cent of their time indoors, and when function and design complement one another, it can make a big difference to people’s daily lives and well-being.

For this very reason, aesthetics and design are weighted in several of the leading sustainable building certification schemes. You can read more about this on this theme page, where architects talk about their innovative approach to design.

Troldtekt, Hjertet i Ikast