The Village on Paper Island
Showroom for &tradition by Norm.Architects
Design by Norm Architects / Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Kasper Rønn and Linda Korndal
Location: Paper Island in Copenhagen
Size: 1000 m2
Photography: Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen / Norm Architects
The Village on Paper Island in Copenhagen brings the outdoors inside and creates a theatrical and sensory experience. The showroom for the design company &tradition is a hybrid between an art installation, a warehouse, a small village and a larger cityscape. It’s designed by Norm Architects and consists of 12 minimalist houses inside an old rustic and rough industrial warehouse.
“The Village” is the culmination of Norm Architects work with spatial identity for &tradition over the past 5 years. Doing trade fair stands, pop up shops and installation work for &tradtion, Norm Architects has from the beginning been working with architectural fragments to create open space plans that allow &tradition to showcase their furniture and lighting pieces in different environments, creating different moods within the same space.
This time &tradition and Norm Architects have gone all the way and constructed a small minimalist village inside an old, rustic and raw industrial space.
“This is a unique opportunity to be able to display the entire collection in one space and to show how our products work together in different settings,” says Martin Kornbek Hansen, &tradition’s brand director.
Like many of &tradition’s ventures this project is moving into a territory of the unexpected. Instead of being designed like an archetypal showroom, Norm Architects has created an office and showroom that is somewhere between functional architecture and an abstract art installation in itself.
Housed in a sixteen hundred square meter big warehouse, historically used for the storage of paper, the space has been stripped back to its bare minimum. The beautifully exposed wooden roof gables are kept intact and fully visible while the floor is now concrete and resin, creating a smooth matte surface.
The minimalist execution of the twelve houses that take up the central space of the warehouse is inspired by village structures you can find in warmer climates all over the globe—where squared houses are built together, creating an intimate and chaotic charm that relates to the human scale.
“We have been working intensely with archetypical elements from village architecture, like the city square, the church tower, the main streets, the alleys, the perfect grid and the imperfect irregularities that occur by chance” says Linda Korndal from Norm Architects.
With the impressive size of the volumes in an raw indoor space the visitor quickly gets the feeling of being in a cityscape and with few, subtle and understated references to well know structures, Norm Architects have succeeded in creating a dialogue between inside and outside without using traditional transparency in the architectural facades of the warehouse.
“It’s like an alphabet of building types,” says Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen of Norm Architects of the village. “They’re all part of the same family but with different characters and functions.”
The houses have a common architectural language, but differ in size and function. Some houses are like towers, others have windows and doors, internal staircases and a rooftop terrace, while some are almost just like abstract sculptures with no recognisable architectural detailing. Some of the pavilions have set uses – one houses a kitchen, some of them are meeting rooms or meant for storage, but the majority are flexible spaces, open to change.
Paper Island is right in the middle of the harbour and has recently been transformed from storage facility for the printed press to creative hub for architects, fashion designers and the like. It´s a place of change and this atmosphere is also incorporated into the design of the offices and showroom.
The idea is that the houses will serve as a traditional white cubes, in which to display the &tradition collection. “What we’re really excited about is that every six months we are planning to invite artists and designers to create an overall concept for the space, so it will function like a gallery for our products,” says Kornbek Hansen.
“Building houses inside, not having to cope with weather conditions, has allowed us to create extremely minimal building types that repeated as an indoor installation and also pays an homage to some of the works by minimalist artists like Donald Judd and Richard Serra,“ says Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen.
Snaregade 14, 1205 Copenhagen
Norm.Architects was founded in 2008 and represents the vision of Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen and Kasper Rønn. Situated in the heart of Copenhagen, Norm works with residential architecture, commercial interiors, industrial design, photography, graphics and art direction. The name Norm indicates the importance of drawing inspiration from traditions and norms that have been refined for many centuries within the field of architecture and aesthetics. Norm makes it a virtue to focus on quality, durability and timelessness.
In spirit with the tradition for scandinavian simplicity Norm strives to cut to the bone in their designs. To find the simplest shape for a given task without forgetting the beauty of the shape and the details, in order to reach a point where there is nothing to add and nothing to take away that can make the product better. Like true scandinavians they pride themselves in their culture and history, and hope and aspire to create new norms for nordic design.
&tradition is a Danish design company established in 2010 with the founding principle being tradition tied to innovation. Our unique library of furniture and lighting spans from the 1930s to the present day and includes designs by internationally renowned designers.
ATWTP is a Copenhagen-based graphic design studio founded in 2004 by Petra Olsson Gendt and Tanja Vibe. Since 2004, ATWTP has grown into an international team of six designers, creating award-winning graphic communication solutions on both a small and a large scale.
Q&A on ”The Village”
Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, Norm Architects.
How did you come up with the idea to create an village inside a warehouse?
It´s a very personal story, that in many ways has led to the concept for the design of this hybrid between an office, a showroom, an event space and art installation for &tradition.
I spend most of my summers in a small village in Provence in Southern France called Meailles. Like thousands of other villages scattered all over Southern Europe, this one is situated on the top of a mountain and framed by a city wall.
Many of these villages in Western Europe were founded just after the fall of the Roman Empire approximately 400 years after Christ when Constantin moved out Rome. There was no longer a strong hegemony in Western Europe and people really had to protect themselves.
So people moved their villages from the plains and fields into the mountains and fortified themselves behind a big walls built by local materials – usually stone—and within those walls small structures of houses randomly grew over centuries around a church, creating labyrinths of streets, alleys, corridors, spaces, volumes and voids.
I think we all know these villages and all fall in love with their monochromatic charm and human scale – qualities that is lost a much modern architecture and city planning.
This type of village is a place built for humans moving around on foot. It´s intimate and accommodating. It surprising and chaotic and encourages people to occupy it in many different ways. It´s a place where it´s wonderful to get lost. The village only reveals itselves as you move through it. Their spatiality can only be conceived in a stretch of time and not caught in a single glimpse like a big boulevard for example.
Even though each small village is different and unique, they all share some common structures and characteristics that we have tired to incorporate into our project – though in a subtle, abstract, understated and minimalist way.
How have you incorporated this type of architecture into the showroom?
When you arrive at this type of village you always arrive at this big square and that´s where you find the local café or bar with the old men hanging out, drinking and playing cards. In this case you arrive from the canal where you enter the village wall —which in this case is the barrier of the old warehouse—and you find yourself on a big square facing the kitchen pavilion – that´s our local café
From the arrival spot you can see or sense this big cluster of volumes, but you can´t see what is inside of it. Maybe you only see the church tower sticking up above the rest of the houses of the village. As you move down the main street – in this case down here the village slowly reveals itself and bit by bit you experience the different houses, alleys and framed views, looking out of the village towards the surroundings. The main street somehow always lead to the church square in the middle of the village and then it continues through the rest of the village – past the church tower over there and through to the other side,where a new landscape awaits you. In this case the offices and the exit towards the harbour.
Even though you can sense some type of grid or city planning attempt in many of these villages, it has always been screwed up by time and changing needs through centuries – which has resulted in chaotic and unplanned events – that sometimes are really strange or inconvenient and sometimes wonderful and unexpected. That is something we have tried to create intentionally by breaking up the grid inside of the village to create a sense of controlled chaos, that pushes the body in different direction and forces you to experience the space in different ways.
I could go on and on with the many references to village architecture from all over the world – from how we have worked with low openings in the facades inspired by traditional Japanese architecture, to the squared rooftop terrace inspired by northern African villages. These are all elements that are all worked into this project. But these are just a few examples of feelings that we have tried to evoke in the design of &tradition's ”The Village”. I hope you can sense it when moving around amongst the structures.