Caruso St John Architects

Location: Copenhagen, DK
Client: Kvadrat Soft Cells
Project Status: Built

The bright and lofty space for Kvadrat Soft Cells’ Atelier, on the second floor of an existing warehouse building in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district, is about six metres high and 250m2 in area, with four windows on its long side facing towards the docks. The space provides a flexible background for Soft Cells to pursue its ambitious and ever evolving plans.

The design strips out the various things that had accumulated in the space during its previous lives - carpet, partitions, wires, pipes and suspended ceilings - to leave a shell, a concrete frame of columns and beams, plaster infills where the unit meets its neighbours and a concrete floor and ceiling. The floor has been polished to remove glue and dirt from its surface and to reveal the aggregate of the existing concrete, a sort of industrial strength terrazzo. The concrete walls have been repaired and a thin coat of white paint applied so that the marks of its casting remain visible in its surface. 

Further interventions are made in a single material, large sheets of oiled spruce lumber-board, which divide the space into three parts, the entrance foyer, the main atelier and the workspace. These spaces are interconnected with wide sliding panels, so that they can be used separately day to day, but can also be opened for bigger and more social events. Each space has large storage units, also made in spruce, often standing the full six metre height. A long work surface in the entrance foyer that accommodates the kitchen, and a special table in the work space have work tops in a special version of the lumber-board made in walnut.

Soft Cells acoustic panels are used to line certain infill walls and to provide a luminous ceiling for mezzanine meeting rooms. A mismatched collection of loose furniture, chosen with the client, includes European classics from the 1960s classroom, and some more recent pieces.