Late last week, Danish architect Henning Larsen was named a Laureate of the Praemium Imperiale Prize in the field of Architecture. Past laureates include Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, and a host of other architectural luminaries at the public forefront of the profession. Henning Larsen may be less well known out side of the profession. I learned about Henning Larsen’s work when I was living and working in Copenhagen, at an architecture firm across the street from his offices (which, if I remember correctly, were directly above Føtex- a bustling grocery store along Vesterbrogade.) The three projects below are by no means representative of Larsen’s entire body of work, which spans decades. Instead, the three projects have all beeen completed in the past couple of years and hint at the diversity of his larger body of work.
This is the Harpa- Reykjavik Concert Hall. The most prominent feature of the project (at least from the outside) is the façade, which was designed in collaboration with artist Olafur Eliasson. Bobby actually posted about the concert hall back in 2011 when it first opened; here’s what he said: “The facade is made up of hundreds of irregularly shaped pieces of glass, which definitely look like Elliason’s handiwork, and give the structure it’s signature style. Inside though, it’s equally as beautiful. The deep red of the concert hall is stunning and it looks like a beautiful place to see a performance.”
This is the Scandinavian Country Club. It’s kind of a hilarious project to me because the idea of a country club doesn’t seem Scandinavian at all– it seems American or British. Even the architects describe the project as an attempt “to bridge the gap between the traditional American golf club and the functional architecture of Scandinavia.” In this case, the three gabled roofs are built using warm, natural wood but constructed in a way that playfully manipulates traditional Scandinavian forms. Still, the wooden underbelly of the roofs is cleanly detailed and protects a rationally planned interior.
Finally we have the smalest project, the Art Pavilion in Videbæk. It’s a tidy project with a pretty clear idea driving the design. It’s an idea about animating the project’s structural system. There are still some surprises thanks to the pavilion’s location on the water’s edge. Like when light reflects off of the surface of the lake and hits the ceiling of the pavilion. It’s a nice effect. The project looks equally stunning at night, with electric light reflecting out of the pavilion and across the lake into the surrounding park. This interplay of daylight and electric light is no accident, as Larsen talks about the importance of light in his laureate video.