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Great Detail: John Pardey on Wohlert and Bo’s Louisiana Museum

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The first in a new series looking at the building details that have impressed and inspired our readers. Today: John Pardey of John Pardey Architects

Architect Jørgen Bo and Vilhelm Wohlert
Building Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark (1958) 

Louisiana museum detail crop

The detail that has had the most impact on me is the roof – perhaps more precisely the corner of the roof – of the Louisiana museum in Humlebæk, Denmark, built in 1958.

What first struck me was the simplicity of the deep rafters, which were in fact laminated timber beams set at 1.2m centres, just sitting on a wall. They project out so that the roof protects the wall, and are glazed between each other to create a clerestory within. Recognising that the exposed end grain of the softwood beams would be vulnerable to rot, the architects – Wohlert and Bo – clad this with gold anodised aluminium plates that hint at their interest in traditional Japanese architecture.

Then, above the beams and again projecting slightly, a teak fascia board in 1.2m sections, forms the edge of the roof. At the corners, these boards are housed together, as a craftsman would do on a piece of furniture. To find such a detail on a fascia was incredible.

Louisiana photo

Because of my early background in joinery, this detail really spoke to me. Building can be so simple, one thing placed above the other, and ennobled by joining together.

I was lucky enough to meet Wohlert in 2004, and I published my book Louisiana and Beyond with Edition Blondal in 2007.

‘Each building is a meeting of materials used in floors, walls and ceilings. These materials meet respecting each other, not one should be altered, disformed or cut. All meetings respect the character and dimensions of each element. Things meet by a joint – they are joined together. The joint is the expression of this meeting and permit each element to remain true to itself.Vilhelm Wohlert

John Pardey is founder of John Pardey Architects

View to grounds from interior of Wohlert and Bo’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

View to grounds from interior of Wohlert and Bo’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

View to grounds from interior of Wohlert and Bo’s Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark

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Readers' comments (1)

  • David Nossiter

    On a bitterly cold January day, I had the joy of travelling to the Copenhagen suburbs to visit Louisiana, initially for the art. Not knowing what to expect, I was similarly impressed with the gold joist ends, the seeming simplicity of the details and the integration of the landscape, seascape and buildings. Lovely!

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