Since graduating as an architect in 1957 from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Knud Holscher's career has traced twin trajectories for he has been as prolific and respected an industrial designer as he has an architect. An erstwhile associate in the early '60s of Arne Jacobsen (working as supervising architect on St Catherine's College, Oxford), he afterwards became a partner in practice with Krohn & Hartvig Rasmussen, and, in 1968, Professor at the Academy's Architecture School. Now retired from KHR, he has his own architectural practice and runs Knud Holscher Industriel Design. In a career that has been liberally sprinkled with glittering prizes, he has been one of the bulwarks sustaining the Danish reputation for materially honest, elegant - and often modest - design in which bombast has no place. Such qualities find their reverberations in Holscher's design of new offices and studio for his industrial design practice of 15 or so people. They occupy the third floor of a concrete framed factory in an old industrial quarter on the north of Copenhagen. The building dates from the late '30s, and was designed by the American architect, Albert Kahn, as an assembly plant for General Motors. Subsequently occupied until last year by a company producing electrical components, it is gradually being taken over by small industries engaged in design, photography and film. When Holscher acquired the third floor, it was in a dismal state requiring extensive cleaning and stripping back to the basic shell. The concrete floor was covered by a warmer, more friendly wooden one that at the same time neatly conceals essential cabling. Walls and ceiling were painted pearly grey to reflect the light. Old metal storage units were cannibalised, the shelving extracted to create cupboards with sliding doors, the whole finished with rust-proof paint in a silvery colour.
With working areas (workstations, model shop, administration and reception) arranged around the perimeter of the space, three glass boxes enclosing meeting rooms, a library and studio, were set down its centre. Partitions in glass, which permit the occupants to have contact with the space outside, were required by the fire authorities, but the transparency in any case accords with Holscher's own inclinations - both for daylight and democracy. Finely detailed, the crystalline boxes are a minimal presence, helping to shed light over this pleasant and very civilised interior.
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|Title Annotation:||Copenhagen Culture; conversion of Copenhagen factory into architectural studio and offices|
|Publication:||The Architectural Review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 1996|
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