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arne jacobsen, SAS royal hotel, copenhagen, 1955-1960 | by seier+seier
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arne jacobsen, SAS royal hotel, copenhagen, 1955-1960

in one of the many myths about utzon, he meets arne jacobsen some time in the late 1950's. utzon asks about current projects and jacobsen, a pipe smoker, takes out a box of matches, placing it on its flat side on the table. I am doing a school, he says. he then proceeds to turn the box on its long side, adding, and a city hall. finally, he turns the box on its short side and says, and a hotel.

 

sas royal hotel, copenhagen, 1955-1960.

architect: arne jacobsen, 1902-1971.

 

jacobsen's glass boxes of the second half of the 1950's made his name internationally. today, they feel more derivative than his other works: gorden bunschaft from s.o.m. and eero saarinen come to mind, somewhat overshadowing the many personal and original aspects of the buildings. certainly, the abstract language of this first wave of commercial modernism suited jacobsen's classicist temper well and his early lessons in classical mouldings helped him produce delicate curtain walls with the tiniest aluminium mullions known at the time.

 

this photo does not do full justice to the shallow relief of the SAS facade as the low winter sun casts long shadows from the 18 mm mullions. you will just have to trust me.

 

at the time, SAS royal was admired as a modernist gesamtkunstwerk. jacobsen's office did all interior design, down to carpets and cutlery. much remains in production, most famously the egg and the swan chair. the hotel itself has been gutted, though, and it is something of a sport today to tour it and discover the corners where the original interior has been left untouched.

 

more jacobsen.

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Taken on March 4, 2008