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The Danish embassy, behind an external veil, is divided into two linked halves by a dramatic luminous gulch which is also the main social space.

The Danish Embassy has the south-west corner of the compound facing the Felleshus across the tent-portico. Its stainless-steel panels perforated by a grid of numerous small holes are either shinily opaque or surprisingly transparent, depending on your angle of view. This rain-screen cladding seems to be becoming a Danish fashion, and is similar to the panels used by Henning Larsen in his little offices for Berlingske Tidene newspaper (AR June 1995). Simultaneously, it gives privacy for the users of the building and it hints at inner life to onlookers. It has an affinity with the elegant, puzzling green copper wall that surrounds the whole place.

Sympathy continues inside. The Danish building is the only one which reflects internally Berger + Parkkinen's undulating perimeter. Designed by 3 x Nielsen, the parti is a development of the firm's Architects' House in Copenhagen (AR December 1996), which is formed round a central top-lit cleft between a hard building finished in render and a soft one largely clad in wood products.

In Berlin, the soft building behind its elegant pale ash slats follows the curve of the copper wall and provides a necklace of office cells which look over park and surrounding city. Opposite, the hard building, rectilinear and clad in the same stainless-steel panels as the exterior, has a similar arrangement of individual offices which overlook the internal streets of the compound, the Felleshus and the Finnish Embassy.

The central gulch tapers upwards in section to its glass roof which splashes abundant light down to the dark stone floor four storeys below. Along the hard side, exposed stairs with ash treads, risers and handrails climb to galleries which are connected to similar ones behind the timber screen on the soft side. Bridges link the two halves of the building and give a notion of the theatre of office life as diplomats run, stroll, shuffle, mutter and dream across the space.

The building is steeped in Danishness: while the robust Norwegians decided to invest all the free space left between the demands of the programme and the constrictions of the perimeter in a big terrace so that the employees can enjoy Berlin's sun and the dubious pleasures of the air of St[ddot{u}]lerstraBe, the Danes chose to make a blond arcade furnished with triumphs of national design like Jacobsen chairs and Kjaerholm tables, lamps from Artemide and bookcases designed by 3x Nielsen themselves.
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Title Annotation:Danish embassy in Berlin
Publication:The Architectural Review
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Mar 1, 2000

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