Jan Magasanik; photo: Jan Malý / fotomaly.cz.
Jan Magasanik; photo: Jan Malý / fotomaly.cz.

From Inspired to Inspiring. Editorial ERA21 #06/2022

Jan Magasanik


Following the example of its Viking ancestors, Danish architecture is taking the world by storm. Danish architects have always filled architectural news and magazine pages: names like Arne Jacobsen, Jørn Utzon or Henning Larsen are well-known to any architect. But what is it actually, Danish architecture, and why is it discussed everywhere all of the time?
The history of Danish architecture is also the story of its emancipation and evolution from purely inspired to inspiring. As was the case with Bohemia, architecture came to Denmark probably from the Italian and French masters, and the main reason was to raise the level of royal culture. Later, with the Industrial Revolution, came the themes of the conflict between craftsmanship, ornamentation and rationality from the south as well. Danish modernism then began to define its own themes which permeate Danish architecture to this day: the need for sunlight and simple and accessible local materials. The gradual absorption and integration of the European avant‑garde into the Scandinavian environment is perhaps best seen in the works of Arne Jacobsen. The lightness of his first projects gradually disappears, they become heavier and begin to blend with the landscape. After the war, new themes of "public welfare for all" and the confidence of young Danish architects who wanted to show themselves to the world in the way American, Japanese or other Nordic architects did, were added to the basic ingredients of Danish architecture.
Danish architecture is better connected with people, and because of that it is able to reflect significant changes and moods of society. One of the main themes in Danish architecture in recent years is ecology. Not just in the sense of sustainability, but in a much broader understanding of the relationship between man and nature. There is a far wider selection of interesting architecture studios in Denmark than it might seem from the publications of well-known and famous architects, who are the most successful ambassadors of Danish culture. The aim of this issue of ERA21 is to offer a glimpse into the slightly lesser known scene.

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