Restora­tion drama

Ren­o­vated by Norm Ar­chi­tects af­ter a dev­as­tat­ing fire, this Copen­hagen villa was once home to light­ing de­signer Poul Hen­ningsen

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Contents - Words KARA O’REILLY Pho­tog­ra­phy JONAS BJERRE-POULSEN

In a pre­vi­ous life, this min­i­mal, modern home

was the sum­mer re­treat of renowned mid-20th-cen­tury Dan­ish critic and light­ing de­signer Poul Hen­ningsen. In 2014, how­ever, the hand­some villa to the north of Copen­hagen was nearly razed to the ground by a dis­as­trous fire, which left just the four ground floor walls stand­ing. Thank­fully, this his­toric home’s for­tunes im­proved when its new owner, a lawyer-turned-prop­erty de­vel­oper, bought what was left and turned to de­sign firm Norm Ar­chi­tects, known for its gen­tly neu­tral colour schemes, to take on the ren­o­va­tion.

The prop­erty’s sig­nif­i­cant fire dam­age gave Jonas Bjerre-poulsen, the lead ar­chi­tect on the project, flex­i­bil­ity in re­design­ing what was a very tra­di­tional space into some­where more suit­able for a 21st-cen­tury fam­ily – the owner lives here with his two chil­dren and mother. ‘ We had many con­ver­sa­tions about what type of house this should be,’ says Jonas. ‘The idea was to cre­ate some­thing con­tem­po­rary and sim­ple, but rem­i­nis­cent of the villa’s his­tory.’

In a build that took nearly two years, Jonas ex­tended the top floor of the house by slightly in­creas­ing the height of the build­ing’s outer walls, adding three bed­rooms and two bath­rooms, and opened up the ground floor, which has been di­vided into a se­ries of poky spa­ces. The new open-plan liv­ing area is flooded with nat­u­ral light thanks to ex­pan­sive win­dows on all four sides, and is only loosely bro­ken up into dif­fer­ent zones by the ad­di­tion of a large be­spoke kitchen cab­i­net and a cen­trally po­si­tioned float­ing stair­case.

Where ap­pro­pri­ate, pe­riod fea­tures were sym­pa­thet­i­cally recre­ated, from hand­crafted wall pan­elling and case­ment win­dows to a beau­ti­ful oak par­quet floor. How­ever, any ex­cess dec­o­ra­tion, such as the elab­o­rate plas­ter­work usu­ally found in houses of this age, has been con­signed to the past. In­stead, the fo­cus is now on the qual­ity of the new ma­te­ri­als. ‘ We worked with a bit of or­na­men­ta­tion, but jux­ta­posed it with cleaner sur­faces,’ ex­plains Jonas. ‘It was about re­fin­ing the el­e­ments, so that the space has char­ac­ter but is still min­i­mal.’ The re­sult is an el­e­gant, al­most monas­tic, home that has a calm­ing feel. No sur­prise, given Norm Ar­chi­tects’ stated am­bi­tions to cre­ate de­signs that fo­cus on de­tail and dura­bil­ity. norm­cph.com

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