Tietgensgade District

Gottlieb Paludan Architects designed a series of brick substations and cooling plants in Copenhagen, giving shape to a composition that presents old and new as even more present.

Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Tietgensgade District Colling Plant, Copenhagen
The building at Tietgensgade is a new district cooling plant and administration office for HOFOR A/S, Copenhagen’s largest utility company, designed by Gottlieb Paludan Architects.
Originally constructed as one of Copenhagen’s first electrical power stations, the building has now been converted and extended to become a district cooling plant, supplying major Copenhagen companies and institutions with energy-efficient seawater cooling.
Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Tietgensgade District Colling Plant, Copenhagen
Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Tietgensgade District Colling Plant, Copenhagen
The administration office provides space for 12 office staff as well as workshops, storage rooms, shower and changing rooms for 30 people together with a kitchen and canteen that serve 40 people. In connection with the project, the interior of the building has been reorganized to match the demands of its new technological purpose – some original rooms have been recreated and a number of new ones established. Some existing roofs have been raised to make space for the cooling plant which is why a new superstructure has been added.

Just like large parts of the surrounding area, this disused power station is characterized by its massiveness and decoratively detailed brickwork. The buildings that make up the current complex have been constructed during the course of several style periods, always in red brickwork and always with respective stylistic details typical for the period.

The new elements of the building are also constructed in red brickwork, and they add their own layer of architectural brick detailing to the story of the building, telling about the time of construction, yet also of the specific technological function of the building.  

Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Tietgensgade District Colling Plant, Copenhagen
Gottlieb Paludan Architects, Tietgensgade District Colling Plant, Copenhagen

Located in prominent historical industrial contexts, the buildings form part of the everyday fabric of the city, but also an important part of the city’s history.The direct adjacencies with historic buildings provided us with our biggest design challenge; how could we respond to the ornate and delicate brick facades in an appropriate yet contemporary way, whilst avoiding the pastiche, and so our process turned towards subtle moves in the brick bonding”. Explain the architects.

The choice of bricks perhaps seemingly obvious was not an easy one. “It is more difficult to make a brick building look good when it is built up against a historic brick building, where the level of craft and detail is impossible to contend with, one has to interpret rather than copy. It was important to allow each fragment to maintain their own vocabulary whilst giving them the ability to speak the same language.”

Historically buildings associated with provisions of power and electricity were seen as testaments to modernisation and progress which carried a status and thus the buildings were ornamented accordingly, they were given the architectural attention that was no different from other important institutions of society, such as Town Hall, Courthouse and Church. Today we see these functions as banal, the provision of services is taken for granted and so there is a desire for a more discreet formal representation. “We felt that brickwork in its silence could communicate this discreetness well, whilst at the same time transcending the shift of meaning over time.”

Tietgensgade District Cooling Plant, Copenhagen, Denmark
Program: cooling plant
Architects: Gottlieb Paludan Architects
Collaboration partners: COWI, MOE
Client: HOFORA A/S
Area: 4,000 sqm
Completion: 2013

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