Text description provided by the 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 &tradition, 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.