Rødovre Town Hall

Rødovre Town hall

Architecture
1956
Rødovre Town Hall
Rødovre Town Hall opened in 1956 as a modern administration building with an air of efficiency, modernity and rationality.
YEAR:
1956
DESIGN:
Arne Jacobsen

Rødovre Town Hall from 1956 is an example of Arne Jacobsen’s designs in the international style, an expression defined by taut geometry and lightweight curtain wall exteriors in glass and steel. Inside the building, Arne Jacobsen created a carefully planned and richly detailed total design including furniture and other interior design elements, colour scheme and the art in the town council hall.

Apart from Gentofte, Rødovre is home to more building designs by Arne Jacobsen than any other municipality. During the initial decades after the Second World War he left a clear imprint on the rapidly growing suburban area with housing architecture, a public library (1969), the municipal school Nyager Skole (1964) and, of course, the famous town hall – a modern administration building exuding an air of efficiency, modernity and rationality.

Rødovre Town Hall. Photo: Aage Strüwing © Jørgen Strüwing.

The town hall building is divided into two clearly defined box-shaped volumes connected by a passage. The long east- and west-facing walls of the tall main building are clad with glass in a curtain-wall design, while the closed end walls are clad with Solvåg marble. Conversely, the smaller building housing the town council hall is clad with marble on the east- and west-facing exterior walls, creating an interplay of the tactile qualities and colours of the two materials when the town hall is seen from the green public square. In combination with the minimalist grid, this interplay of materials is the building’s only ornamentation.

Both inside and out, Rødovre Town Hall is characterized by precision, right angles and sharp lines. In the entrance hall, one is greeted by a graphic staircase in glass and steel, a motif Arne Jacobsen went on to develop further in other works of architecture. He decorated the building with functionalist furniture and lamps that helped to stage the town hall as a modern, open building.

Rødovre Town Hall. Photo: Kim Høltermand / Arne Jacobsen Design.
The graphic glass and steel staircase in the main entrance hall. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.

Inside the building, Arne Jacobsen created a carefully planned and richly detailed total design including furniture and other interior design elements, colour scheme and the art in the town council hall.

The Town Hall’s high-precision aesthetic is reflected in the furnishing plan that Arne Jacobsen designed for the building. In the town council hall, councillors were seated on Series 7 chairs, which had been launched the previous year, while the new Series 3300 was used in offices. The small stool Dot was used in the lobby. Round backrests mirroring the shape of the seat were mounted on the wall behind the stools, while the stools themselves could be moved around freely. The installation reflects Arne Jacobsen’s focus on optimizing functionality and flexibility at Rødovre Town Hall.

Waiting area in Rødovre Town Hall with the Munkegaard Lamp and Dot stools with round backrests mounted on the wall, 1956. Photo: Aage Strüwing © Jørgen Strüwing.

After the opening in 1956, Rødovre Town Hall became a core element in a larger urban plan, and two buildings by Arne Jacobsen – Rødovre Library and a housing block – were added to the square around Rødovre Town Hall. Together, the three buildings form an ‘axis of democracy’ extending from the official seat of power (Town Hall) to general education and information (the library) and from there to housing, thus underscoring the close connection between politicians and citizens. In this way, Arne Jacobsen’s architecture highlighted Denmark’s new, modern welfare state in this rapidly growing suburb of Copenhagen.

 

Sources: Arne Jacobsen Design Archives. / Arne Jacobsen’s drawings. The collection of architectural drawings, The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Arne Jacobsen’s scrapbooks. The Royal Library – Danish Art Library. / Stenum Poulsen, K., Skaarup Larsen, A., & Staunsager, S. (2020). Arne Jacobsen – Designing Denmark. Kolding: Trapholt.  / Thau, C., & Vindum, K. (1998). Arne Jacobsen. Copenhagen: Danish Architectural Press.

An office at Rødovre Town Hall, 1956. Photo. Aage Strüwing © Jørgen Strüwing.
Rødovre Town Hall, approximately 1956. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library - Danish National Art Library.
The Council Hall at Rødovre Town Hall, where the councillors sat on Series 7 chairs at custom-designed tables. Photo: Arne Jacobsen. Original is found at the Royal Danish Library – Danish National Art Library.
Designs from Rødovre Town Hall