Takes on Architecture, part IV: Minimalism


Adept, minimalism1

Photo: Kåre Viemose

Stepped seating in sound space for orchestra


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Photo: Kåre Viemose

The diffuse daylight in sound space for percussion


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Photo: CEBRA

Children's home of the future - Kerteminde


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Photo: CEBRA

The Iceberg at night time


Iceberg by Cebra architects 03

Photo: Mikkel Frost

Iceberg by Cebra architects


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Photo: Julian Weyer

The compressor station in Egtved designed by C.F. Møller.


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Photo: C. F. Møller

Close up of the compressor station in Egtved


In a series of articles, DANISH™ asks a group of experts to elaborate on different architectural parameters. After a short summer break, we are back and so are our experts, who this time share their thoughts on minimalism.


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Photo: Kåre Viemose

Anders Lonka
Partner, ADEPT

‘I always get a slight tic when the caption ‘minimalism’ applies with regard to modern Danish or Scandinavian architecture. From my point of view, I would rather say that we work with creating spatial order of the complexity that one often finds in a modern-day brief. When everyone is part of the design process through user involvement, etc., minimalism is not even a realistic option. So perhaps, the contemporary Nordic version of minimalism is more of a ‘rich simplicity’?’

‘At least that rich simplicity is what we have tried to aim for in our ‘Sonorous Museum’ – four acoustic sound chambers designed for the Danish National Museum, located in the listed ’Radio House’, which was originally built by renowned Danish architect Vilhelm Lauritzen. This elegant modernistic building from the 1950s recently went through an extensive refurbishment in 2014 that respectfully emphasised the unique character of the building’s materials and detail.’

‘The Sonorous Museum comprises four sound-regulated studios, acoustically adapted to a specific instrumental group, namely strings, brass, percussion and mixed instruments. The four spaces are in fact subtle spatial variations on the same aesthetic theme. Each of the spaces is clad in wood veneer, designed to meet and create the optimal acoustic setting for a specific instrumental group. From the vertical lamellae of the percussion space, to the seemingly vibrating cassettes for the strings, to the graphical clarity of the brass space, each space stands out as being both contemporary modern and yet very classic in its expression and a simple and precise continuation of the intended spirit of Vilhelm Lauritzen’s listed masterpiece.’

‘The unique architecture of Lauritzen’s Radio House was the main inspiration during the refurbishment process. Everything, from the transparency of the exhibition design to the play of colours, patterns and rhythm in the acoustic walls of the Sonorous Museum is a modern-day interpretation of the architectural elements and details from the original building.’


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Photo: CEBRA

Mikkel Frost
Founding Partner, CEBRA

‘The funny thing is that even though we’re a Nordic architecture firm, we often look for inspiration in more ‘tropical architecture’, such as the designs by Oscar Niemeyer. We don’t claim to be Nordic and minimalistic, and even our name is a reference to a more tropical animal rather than a Nordic one. I would say that our architecture is more expressive and colourful than the designs from other Danish drawing offices. That’s not meant to be negative, but rather to state that we just do something a bit different compared to the rather minimalistic line common in the Nordic region in design and architecture.’

‘In the Danish daily Politiken, our residential development ‘The Iceberg’ at Aarhus Harbour was last year commented as being a part of Dubai in Scandinavia. That says a lot about how followers of the minimalistic style look at our architecture. But we’re not disciplined minimalists.’


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Photo: Julian Weyer

Julian Weyer
Partner, C. F. Møller

‘For the new gas compressor station at Egtved, a limited use of materials and a strong repetitive use of the rectangle helped to create both a very functional and visually appealing building, unlike traditional technical installations.’

‘A simple concrete structure with a continuous grass surface forms the base, which gives the building a landscape-like expression, while floating on top of this is a volume clad in a rust-coloured, facetted corten steel skin. The cladding forms a varied pattern of light and shadow that makes the façade appear rugged and elegant at the same time.’

In this series

Takes on Architecture, part I: Proportions
Takes on Architecture, part II: The Inflow of Daylight
Takes on Architecture, part III: Sustainability
Takes on Architecture, part IV: Minimalism

Companies mentioned in this article

The goal of DANISH™ is to promote Danish architecture and design in a broad perspective, and demonstrate all the potentials in these fields.

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