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  COME VEDERE L'ARCHITETTURA CONTEMPORANEA HOW TO SEE CONTEMPORARY ARCHITECTURE
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BUILDING
 
 
Fjordenhus
Fjord House
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DESIGNER
 
 
Studio Olafur Eliasson
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PHOTO+
 
 
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk Kapital
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CONTEXT
 
Location
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalVejle Fjord in Jutland stretches east from its head at the city of Vejle to its mouth at the Kattegat Sea. Fjordenhus stands in the water alongside Havneøen (The Harbour Island), a man-made island that was developed in response to a concept by Vejle Municipality to revitalise the harbour area, introducing important new residential components into a traditionally industrial environment. For those approaching from Vejle’s main urban axis, the building appears as the focal point, surrounded by water and with the Vejle Fjord Bridge in the background. The concrete and cobblestone surfaces of the expansive plaza in front of the building are echoed in the design of Günther Vogt’s jetty, while the cylindrical forms and distinctive brickwork of Fjordenhus nod to the historical harbour typologies of warehouses and silos. Set against the backdrop of the fjord, the building itself breaks the smooth plane of the water.
Relationship with the location
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk Kapital
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DESCRIPTION
 
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Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalFjordenhus (Fjord House), the first building designed entirely by artist Olafur Eliasson and the architectural team at Studio Olafur Eliasson, is now open in Vejle, Denmark. Commissioned by KIRK KAPITAL, the company’s new headquarters offer a contemporary interpretation of the idea of the total work of art, incorporating remarkable site-specific artworks by Eliasson with specially designed furniture and lighting.

Rising out of the water, Fjordenhus forges a striking new connection between Vejle Fjord and the city centre of Vejle—one of Jutland peninsula’s thriving economic hubs. As one moves from the train station towards the harbour, Fjordenhus comes into view across the expansive plaza of the man- made Havneøen (The Harbour Island), a mixed-use residential and commercial area currently in development. From here, residents and visitors can access the ground floor of Fjordenhus via a footbridge or stroll along the jetty designed by landscape architect Günther Vogt.

Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalThe building’s public, double-height entrance level is dedicated to the relation of the building to the water, drawing attention to the plane where the structure plunges beneath the surface, its curved edges framing glimpses of the surrounding shores and harbour. The building is permeated by the harbour itself, and its two aqueous zones are visible from viewing platforms. Both the architectural spaces and Eliasson’s artworks engage in a dialogue with the ever-changing surface of the water.

Formed by four intersecting cylinders, Fjordenhus soars to a height of twenty-eight metres (ninety- two feet). Rounded negative volumes have been carved from its facades of custom-glazed brick to create an extraordinary architectural statement of complex curved, circular, and elliptical forms, torqueing walls and parabolic arches. In its unique setting—a hybrid of natural and industrial- urban contexts—the building highlights Vejle’s future as a centre not just for today’s generation but also for generations to come.

Olafur Eliasson notes, ‘I am very thankful for the trust shown by the Kirk Johansen family in inviting me, with my studio, to conceive Fjordenhus. This allowed us to turn years of research—on perception, physical movement, light, nature, and the experience of space—into a building that is at once a total work of art and a fully functional architectural structure. In the design team, we experimented from early on with how to create an organic building that would respond to the ebb and flow of the tides, to the shimmering surface of the water, changing at different times of the day and of the year. The curving walls of the building transform our perception of it as we move through its spaces. I hope the residents of Vejle will embrace Fjordenhus and identify with it as a new landmark for the harbour and their city.’

The completion of Fjordenhus marks the shift of Studio Olafur Eliasson’s major architectural activities to a new international office for art and architecture, Studio Other Spaces (SOS), founded by Eliasson and his long-time collaborator, architect Sebastian Behmann, in Berlin in 2014. As an architectural counterpart to Studio Olafur Eliasson, Studio Other Spaces will be the vehicle for Eliasson and Behmann to carry out large-scale interdisciplinary and experimental architectural projects of a scope similar to Fjordenhus, in addition to works for public space. Projects are currently in development around the world, from Paris to Addis Ababa.

Architect Sebastian Behmann, head of design at Studio Olafur Eliasson, says, ‘Throughout the process, we were very attentive to the choreography and sequencing of spaces, using modulation of light and acoustics to heighten all the building’s sensory aspects. One experiences Fjordenhus as a sculptural presence in the harbour, an interaction of solids and voids. These voids—the main points of interaction between inside and outside—are the major design element and form the parabolic, multi-story windows. Our clients grasped the value of devoting the ground story of the building, alongside the plaza with its jetty, to the experience of the building’s relation to its environment—and to the public.’
Building
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalAccessible by footbridge, the twenty-eight-metre-high building is formed by four intersecting cylinders with brick facades from which ellipsoidal negative spaces were removed to create complex curved forms and arched windows. The varying floor plans of the different levels are organised around circles and ellipses, with specially designed furniture and lights, and are connected by spiral staircases and round vestibules.

The double-height ground floor, which is open to the public, is permeated by the fjord and contains two aqueous zones with site-specific artworks by Olafur Eliasson. The KIRK KAPITAL offices occupy the upper three floors.

By night, Fjordenhus is lit from within, resembling a lighthouse.
Artworks
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalThe various spaces throughout Fjordenhus contain unique artworks by Olafur Eliasson. These installations span the publically-accessible water spaces and ground floor of Fjordenhus, as well as the other floors within. Fjordhvirvel, a central piece in this body of artworks, draws in the viewer while also drawing attention to the water and weather that encircle Fjordenhus. The spheres of Undervandsforventning and Den indre himmel visually link the lower and upper spaces and create a formal dialogue between the curvature of the building, the daily cycles of the fjord, and the arc of the sun’s path across the sky. The same is true for the light works Fjordreflektor, Fjordenhus meridian, and Cirkelspejl, which emphasise an interplay of light and surface. These pieces, enmeshed with the architecture, further the synthesis of water and light in Fjordenhus, a total work of art.
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POINTS OF VIEW
 
 
Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalFjordenhus has been an exciting opportunity for us to bring years of research in diverse fields – urban space, light conditions, nature, physical movement, how we use our senses – together in one project that truly melds artistic and architectural vision.

In the design team, we experimented from early on with how to create an organic building that would respond to the ebb and flow of the tides, to the shimmering surface of the fjord, and to the ephemeral qualities of daylight, changing at different times of the day and of the year.

Fundamental to the concept of Fjordenhus is the notion that there is no one ideal position from which to view the building. As you move around and through the structure, your perception of space changes continuously, constantly defined and redefined by your movement. It is the time it takes you to pass into or through the building that defines your experience of space. The level floor grounds you, but at the same time, the walls curve, lean in or out, and perpetuate a sense of movement. Every line seems negotiable, depending on where you are – your movement makes the building soft; it gives you agency.

Another key element of this project was to create the most immediate relation between a building and its environment. The outer walls, which are normally seen as a membrane between inside and outside, are spaces in Fjordenhus – sometimes the spaces are part of the interior and other times they open to the surroundings as balconies. And there is a porosity to the building: while it stands directly in the water, which permeates parts of the ground floor, the building is shot through with many different openings that frame views of the fjord and the natural elements, which makes the presence of nature felt.

More relational than monumental, Fjordenhus is co-created by its shifting fjord context as well as by the people experiencing it. It makes you conscious of your own presence – conscious not only that you are seeing the building, but that the building is also seeing you.

Olafur Eliasson, artist



When the Kirk Johansen family asked us to design their new headquarters we embraced the challenge to define a building right at the heart of what matters most to Vejle: the fjord. We planned the building as a central element of the harbour, a structure set between the city and the water. We wanted to create a strong connection to this setting, whether it was seen from the city centre or from the surrounding hills, whether from Vejle Fjord Bridge or from boats entering the harbour.

The building honours its unique setting in a direct, radical way. Instead of just being beside the water, it is placed directly in the water. Visitors can engage with all of the site’s natural elements – water, light, wind, sound. For those approaching from Vejle’s main urban axis, the building appears as the focal point, surrounded by water and with the spectacular bridge in the background. Following the harbour edge, they reach a generously proportioned plaza that separates the building on one side from new apartment blocks on the other. Set against the backdrop of the fjord, the building itself breaks the smooth plane of the water.

The basic form of Kirk Kapital’s headquarters was inspired by the harbour’s surrounding architecture. We carved precise volumes out of the building’s massive brick cylinders, subtracting the interior space out of the overall volume. These negative volumes form the elliptical cuts in the facade and act as independent spaces. The windows, normally seen as separating inside from outside, are a singular design feature of Fjordenhus. The vertical spaces within these soaring carved voids connect sky to water.

Designing a structure of this scale and purpose was like developing characters in a play or novel; we considered the relation of the elements to each other, the setting, the overall story we wanted to tell. We carefully balanced the characters. So many elements interact with each other here, from Olafur Eliasson’s artworks to the views out over the fjord, from the bricks themselves to the luminous, metal- cast stairwells; from the lighting and furnishings to the harbour setting. Now it is Fjordenhus itself that will carry the narrative into the future.

Sebastian Behmann, architect
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VIDEO
 
 







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MATERIALS
 
brick, reinforced concrete

Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk KapitalClassic Danish brick is the predominant material of the building’s inner and outer walls. The brick forms the smallest possible building unit and follows the organic shape of the building. Fjordenhus’s intricate brickwork shapes visitors’ impression of the building as they approach. From afar, the building’s surface seems orderly, but upon closer inspection, the different shapes and slightly irregular staggering of the bricks’ depth reveals a lively, organic surface. The brickwork incorporates fifteen different tones of unglazed brick; additional colours of glazed bricks are integrated into the carved-out sections to produce colour fades – green from the bottom and blue from the top – that reflect the water and sky. In the stairwell, scattered silver bricks reflect the sunlight shining in from above. The bricks function not only aesthetically, but also technically: hollow ventilation bricks are placed throughout the walls to modulate both sound and temperature. Every corner, niche, and arc required an individual brick-laying solution; each brick was specially fit into the complex curvature of the concrete walls, the overall brickwork lying flush with the curved steel frames and glass elements of the facade.




The floors and ceilings of Fjordenhus are formed by white concrete slabs, creating spaces 3.2 metres in height on each level. They conceal the distribution of technical infrastructure such as the heating and cooling systems. The grid pattern of cut-out negative circular volumes in the ceiling reduces the overall weight of the ceiling. These hollows also serve to hold light fixtures and modulate the acoustics of the space. Pietra Piasentina stone was used to cover all the floors. Unlike classic granite stones, Pietra Piasentina can only be found in boulders quarried from the hills of Friuli, Italy.



The double-curved, 3D-formed windows precisely follow the geometry of Fjordenhus. Steel frames span several floors of the building, while the window voids form the main element of the facade. In some areas, rotating doors were introduced to accommodate the geometrical challenges of the building’s overall shape. All of the doors and windows are tilted; by design, the walls contain no right angles.



The kilim carpets, each with a diameter of 9.4 metres and placed in the centres of the drums, were handwoven in Varanasi, India. Looms were custom-built so the carpets could be woven seamlessly, and each carpet comes in a different monochrome colour. The smaller, elliptical entrance rooms linking the stairwells to the main office spaces are fitted with hand-tufted carpets. All the carpets have been deliberately designed to be sound-absorbant.



The office spaces on the building’s first, second, and third floors feature several custom-made furniture pieces designed by Olafur Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson. Wood was introduced as the dominant material for the additional built-in cabinets, bathrooms, kitchens, and staircases in the private spaces.



The lighting for the building has been custom-designed by Olafur Eliasson and Studio Olafur Eliasson. Some fixtures are freestanding, others imbedded in the structure. All of the fixtures throughout Fjordenhus are powered by LED bulbs, and the freestanding lamps in particular have been created using handblown glass in six different colours.

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ECO-SUSTAINABILITY'
 
Perched atop the building is a green roof with vegetation and solar panels.
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LOCATION
 
Continent
Europe
Nation
Denmark [Danmark]
Region
Syddanmark
Municipality
Vejle
Town
Vejle
Address
Havneøen 1
 
 
Website
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MAP
 
 
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TYPOLOGY
 
Main
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for offices and professional practises
Offices

LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENTS
Landscape architecture
Waterfront
Additional
ARCHITECTURE
Buildings for cultural activities
Permanent exhibitions and installations
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CHRONOLOGY
 
Project
2009 - 2013    
Realisation
2013 - 2018
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CLIENT
 
 
Kirk Kapital A/S
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DIMENSIONAL
DATA
 
Surface
sq.m. 9,000
Height
m. 28
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STRUCTURES
 
 
Cowi A/S
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LANDSCAPE DESIGN
 
 
Vogt Landscape Ltd.
Günther Vogt
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STAFF
 
Project
Studio Olafur Eliasson
Art intervention
Olafur Eliasson
Architect
Sebastian Behmann
Studio Olafur Eliasson
Project architect
Caspar Teichgräber [2013-2018]
Ben Allen [2012-2013]
Felix Hallwachs [2011-2012]
Ricardo Gomes [2009-2011]
Collaborators
Nestor Perez Batista, Theis Bloch, Sylvain Brugier, Jan Bünnig, Ruben Bygvraa, Bendix Carabetta, Michelle Chen, Michel David, Heide Deigert, Taylor Dover, Jesper Dyrehauge, Anna Engberg-Pedersen, Emilie Engbirk, Martin Enoch, Sophie Erlund, Noel Fäh, Laura Freiling, Matthias Gerber, Yolandé Gouws, Maria Björk Gunnarsdóttir, Thomas Blumtritt Hanisch, Jennifer Hauger, Frank Haugwitz, Friedrich Herz, Erik Huber, Jöran Imholze, Holger Jenal, Ruben Jodar, Lisa Jugert, Roger Kaiser, Camilla Kragelund, Inga Krieger, Al Laufeld, Gianna Ledermann, Sharron Lee, Meng Li, Luca Longagnani, Lars Lubnau, Julia Lutz, Margaret Lutz, Riccardo Mariano, Elizabeth McTernan, Jan Mennicke, Andreas Meyer, Niel Meyer, Daniel Mock, Anders Hellsten Nissen, Marina Pedrazzini, Marc Paetzold, Francisco Regalado, Miranda Robbins, Bettina Roeder, Kerstin Schmidt, Vajra Spook, Tobias Tavella, Myriam Thomas, Lisa Tiedje, Christian Uchtmann, Michael Waldrep, Matt Willard, Alexander Zerning, Linda Zhang
Plastic models, rendering, visualization
Robert Banovic
Project management
Flemming Hoff Jakobsen
Hundsbæk & Henriksen A/S
Construction management
Jørn Andreasen
Hundsbæk & Henriksen A/S
Engineering
ArtEngineering GmbH
Technical Supervision
Hundsbæk & Henriksen A/S
Environmental design
Transsolar Energietechnik GmbH
Acoustical consultant
Gade & Mortensen Akustik A/S
Construction supervision
Reinhard Ostendorf
Supervision
Ilja Leda
Geometry
Phillip C. Reiner
Fire safety
Hundsbæk & Henriksen A/S
Safety coordination
Eggersen Miljø & Sikkerhed APS
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CREDITS
 
 
Photos © Anders Sune Berg, Taylor Dover, David de Larrea Remiro
Text edited by Studio Olafur Eliasson
Video © Kirk Kapital
Courtesy of Studio Olafur Eliasson

Fjordenhus, Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, Studio Olafur Eliasson, Vejle, Denmark, Kirk Kapital



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