Royal Playhouse by Lundgaard & Tranberg

Royal Playhouse by Lundgaard & Tranberg

Kan også læses på: Dansk

The Royal Playhouse

The Royal Playhouse combines Danish values with an intense, Shakespearean atmosphere.

Reformed traditions

For decades, Copenhagen couldn’t agree on a new cultural building for music or theatre. But within 5 years Copenhagen opened no less than 3, all of a very high functional standard. And all by prominent architects.

  • The Opera in 2005,
  • The Royal Playhouse (across the water) in 2008, and
  • The Danish Radio Concert Hall in 2009 (designed by French Jean Nouvel).

I’m regarding Lundgaard & Tranberg for being the strongest exponent of modern Danish traditions within architecture. And the Playhouse is a prime example. The materials are genuine, detailing is precise and straightforward, and the context has priority.

Unlike the Opera, that feels like an alien spaceship, the Playhouse is an integral, physical extension of the existing city. It opens up on three sides for public access and invites by-passers to step inside and experience the interior.

The stages are unfortunately not accessible but visit the bathrooms. They make a small theatre in themselves. 

The Kolumba brick

Lundgaard & Tranberg typically works with few materials but with care and aesthetic sensitivity and to significant effect.

The dark and specially developed ‘Kolumba’-brick is used in both exterior and interior. The rough masonry adds to the cave-like feeling and dampens the acoustics in the main auditorium.

Furthermore, the oak floor establishes a continuum with the outdoor deck of the promenade. And with the subtle lighting, single LED-diodes hanging from the ceiling, there is a minimal reflection in the glass wall. That means that from inside you can actually enjoy the view of the waterfront, also by nighttime. 

Compared with the Opera across the water, I find the difference striking between the two general gestures and architectural approaches.

And I think, especially in light of that comparison, that the Royal Playhouse stands out as a profound and sophisticated distillation of Danish architectural values. Not in a historical sense, but as an updated continuation.

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