Frederiksberg Courthouse | The Plan
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Frederiksberg Courthouse

3XN

Frederiksberg Courthouse
By Caterina Testa -

A city and its surrounding area are the product of the sedimentation and stratification of objects, materials, and architectures built down the ages. This is the thread that runs through the history of a place, the accumulation of specific colours, forms and materials that confer a consistency and coherence on heterogeneous elements from different eras, marking the continuity of human activity and community life and informing the distinctiveness of that particular urban fabric.

Designed by the firm 3XN, the extension of Copenhagen’s Frederiksberg courthouse establishes a twofold relationship of continuity with its sister building from another era: a physical connection in the choice of materials and forms that re-interpret rather than contrast with the nearby neoclassical building; and a functional link in that the new extension is part of a single court of justice system.

The new volume sits comfortably alongside the complex designed by Hack Kampmann in 1921. Contemporary in style, it echoes the forms, colours and materials of the surrounding neighbourhood. Its trapezoid shape conforms to the perimeter of the allocated plot. One of the long sides runs parallel to the existing building and court while one of the short sides faces the square in front of the courthouse complex and nearby church. The new volume yields to the shapes of the adjacent buildings, matching them in size and proportion. On the side overlooking a small walkway, the last two floors tilt back 45°, its cross section almost a mirror image of the building opposite. This ploy creates an airy corridor from the square to the road system beyond the complex. On the square side, it is the new building’s ground floor that steps back 45° to allow the public space to penetrate inside the building.

Although contemporary in style, the materiality and texture of the new façade connect with the surrounding historical fabric. The contemporary feel is...

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