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hans chr. hansen, architect: hanssted skole / school, copenhagen 1954-1959 | by seier+seier
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hans chr. hansen, architect: hanssted skole / school, copenhagen 1954-1959

hanssted skole / school, valby, copenhagen, denmark 1954-1959.

architect: hans christian hansen, 1901-1978, working for the copenhagen municipal architects department.


I cannot claim to be an expert on hans christian hansen. in the little time I have for research, I haven't been able to come up with any good sources, but from visiting his houses - or those I have been able to locate - I have learnt that he must have had to discover himself as an architect. and that it took him a long time to do so.


his 1920's training was most likely in the nordic classicism of carl petersen and erik gunnar asplund. hansen then worked as a modernist in the 1930's. under the influence of the german occupation, he turned to kay fisker's klint school in the early 1940's. so did everyone else and on the whole, hansen was simply doing what those around him were doing. he was good at it too, but there was no lack of talent in copenhagen at the time.


I don't know the exact date and I don't know the exact building, but sometime during the late forties there was a shift. you can still find both the modernism and the klint school in his work, just look at the brick gables above, but something else is at play, something personal: a conspicuous restlessness to the section, a strange, dense web of verticals across the facade, certain arte povera materials, for lack of a better word, that we would later come to associate with brutalism.


hansen also displayed a penchant for character above clarity, something unheard of in copenhagen since bindesbøll, where in the words of reyner banham, exquisite craftsmanship in teak and brick was harnessed to a conception of architecture so middle-of-the-road as to be entirely characterless.


banham was such a bitch, I love everything he wrote. he would nail the complacency of scandinavian modernism in a single line only to spend the rest of the article describing why jacobsen, utzon, and aalto were such important exceptions. I can't help thinking he would have approved of hansen's irreverence and his returning allusions to industrial architecture, old tileworks, and asia, had banham been introduced to his work.


it took hans chr. hansen twenty years to arrive at himself and for the remaining 20-odd years of his career, he did not so much change as explore what he had arrived at. it never degenerated into a signature style, the restlessness of hansen's sections perhaps finally revealing a personal trait of their elusive architect.


the hans chr. hansen set.

more words, yada, yada, yada.




the comments I have added to some of my photos can be read together as a kind of mangled, yet surprisingly brief essay on hansen. repetitious and opinionated, it reflects the writer above his subject, but until someone does some serious research on hansen, a complete lack of competition makes me immune to criticism. enjoy :)


01. introduction, amager 1966.

02. the engineer as ideal, hansen's pre-war architecture, sundholm 1939.

03. the church he didn't build. war and the return to tradition, 1942-1944.

04. following fisker. wartime housing, hulgårds plads 1943.

05. the architect finding himself in kindergarten, skydebanen 1948.

06. developing the restless section. hanssted school 1954.

07. early industrial. nyborggade transformer 1958.

08. the brutalist, bellahøj 1961.

09. perfect self-confidence, ringbo nursing home 1961.

10. perfect idiosyncrasy. ringbo bell tower 1961.

11. the masterpiece, bremerholm 1962.

12. on the fine art of knowing when to be a backdrop. svanemølle 1966.

13. industrialized construction, a first response. svanemølle 1966.

14. concrete charm, bellahøj gas regulator 1967.

15. late irreverence. gasværksvejen school 1969.




don't copy texts and comments. respect the photos that are marked all rights reserved. for photos with a CC license, please name photographer "SEIER+SEIER".

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Taken on March 19, 2011