Single Gentofte

Larsen had graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1952 but for 10 months before he graduated he worked in the office of Arne Jacobsen at that point still in the basement of the architects own house in Bellvue, so just up the coast from Hellerup.

The influence of Arne Jacobsen can be seen clearly in this building with it’s simple white facades but sophisticated plan, clever use of space and light and the high-quality fittings.

so the long proportion of the windows at Bellavue and the relationship of window to blank wall, the completely plain white columns without bases or caps and the recessed large circular ceiling light fittings of Jacobsen’s Rødovre city hall and the restaurant at the SAS Hotel.

Gentofte library is on a large, well-landscaped, plot at the north end of the main street of Hellerup, set back from the road on the west side, on a slope rising up slightly above the road and immediately south of the park and gallery at Øregaard.

The library has a timeless feel, that is difficult to date but it has certainly worn well and does not look thirty years old.

There has been one major change since it was completed because the original desk inside the south door for bringing in and checking out books by staff has been replaced by a sort of self-service system and staff have been moved into the centre of the reading room to an information desk. When I have been to the library it has been full of people and is obviously being well appreciated.

Nor should that imply it is taken for granted but there is certainly an underlying sense that it is accepted and understood that if something is done it should be done well …

many Danes will only comment when something is done badly.

The main part of the building for books and reading, furthest from the main road, is a very large, square, top-lit area for the main reading room and information desk which is open through two storeys at the centre but with deep balconies around the edge with quieter study rooms and administrative office on the upper level and below, on the ground floor, although generally open to the main space, there are quiet, more enclosed reading and study areas beneath the balconies.

This is a prosperous middle-class area but even so it is clear here and elsewhere in the design of libraries and schools that Danish children grow up with good design.

It not that it is precious or special but that Danes actually expect this level of design.

Additional functions of the building are equally inventive, the double height space can serve as an orangery; in-keeping with the ecological theme of the build.

Gentofte Library in Hellerup, just north of Copenhagen, was designed by the architectural firm of Henning Larsen and was completed in 1985.

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