Contemporary, with a historical twist
Medieval half-timbered houses, a magnificent cathedral and a picturesque location on the edge of the marshlands: Time seems to stand still in Ribe, the oldest town in Denmark. Centuries ago the Vikings settled here and for a long time what was once Denmark’s largest port was the country’s major trading hub. Today, things are quieter in this former royal city, but its historical buildings continue to fascinate tourists from all over the world.
Designing the new parish hall “Kannikegården” on the marketplace of Ribe presented a challenge given its prominent position in the town and its historical setting. Architects Lundegaard & Tranberg opted for a rustic-red clinker silhouette, which lends the building an individual flair, but is simultaneously inspired by its much older neighbors so that the new building fits harmoniously into its historic environs. Danish brickworks Petersen Tegl is one of the few firms worldwide with the expertise to make coal-fired bricks, a method that lends them an attractive play of light and dark shades. So it was only natural the architects should choose this highly traditional, family-run business that has specialized in manufacturing construction elements since 1791.
As the entire upper story was clad with “Cover” 35 x 65 cm bricks, only the glazed ground floor with its support beams and movable coarse oak planks on pins can be looked into. The small windows in the cladding are arranged asymmetrically as needed and recall the slits in a castle wall. And by intentionally choosing uneven bricks the architects simulated the original arrangement of the medieval gabled houses where everything was measured in feet rather than millimeters. The rustic-red shade of the bricks, which fits in perfectly with the surrounding coloring, is achieved by making minimum adjustments to the oxygen inflow during glazing. Inside the building, the town’s history is also decidedly present: The ruins of the 12th-century cloisters discovered during construction work on the plot have been integrated into the new building. (am)