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