Spring 2016. Angela Gigliotti. Copenhagen. Collaboration with Hana Lemseffer.

Publication related to architectural production of Arne Jacobsen in Denmark from 1926-1958.

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Arne Jacobsen Manuals

You talk about having to represent architecture, but isn’t architecture a form of representation in itself?

With the premise that architecture is a form of representation, one could imagine the architect’s mind’s eye. Architecture is simply the material outcome of what the architect envisioned and communicated to his/her client and builder. What architects produce are not buildings but rather descriptions and drawings of ideas. These ideas often are about process, construction tectonics, or principles inherent to the organization of the project. Architects communicate with contractors, clients, and one another in varying degrees of abstraction, from models and technical details, to renderings that illustrate an atmosphere or perception. The value of representing architecture lies highly in the architect’s ability to effectively interpret thoughts, emotions and words into visual communicators. (Hana Lemseffer, Kirill Volchinskiy and Kevin Martin Altunian, DIS students)

To read more: https://koozarch.com/2016/10/21/the-aj-manual/


Jespersen and Søn was the first office building in Copenhagen to be constructed with a curtain wall. As an office building, it served as a prototype for rapid, labor-efficient construction. It was commissioned as the headquarters of Jespersen and Sons, a construction company. Before this building, the construction company mainly dealt with brick and mortar, traditional construction methods popular in Denmark before the 1950’s (Cruz, P). As Jespersen’s Son took lead in the company, he commissioned Jacobsen on several pre-fabricated or serial-production projects, the first of which was his company’s headquarters.

Upon completion of the office building, Jacobsen replicated the construction methodology in the SAS Royal Hotel. Criticized as being a copy of the Lever house in New York due to its nearly identical geometry, it reveals that Jacobsen was not operating in a vacuum, but was rather a part of an international paradigm to re-use design and serialize the production of architectural components.


Matchbox anecdote:

“In reply to Utzon’s question about what he was working on at a time, Jacobsen answered by pulling out a matchbox and laying it flat on the table. ‘I am making a school.’ Then he set it on its long edge and said, ‘I am making a city hall.’ And finally, he stood the matchbox on end and said, ‘I am making a hotel.’ The story is telling, showing how Jacobsen cultivated the architectural box as a space and form and played through its precise potentials in a stringent expression.”
-Carsten Thau, Kjeld Vindum

Besides the shape, both Rødovre Town Hall and SAS Royal Hotel incorporate the double cantilever strucutral system and curtain wall first explored in Jespersen & Søn.



Many construction and engineering companies continuously work hand-in-hand with renown architects in the design process from an early stage. Just like Arne Jacobsen worked with Jespersen & Son in many projects following their headquarters, modern architects like Zaha Hadid, Rem Koolhaas, Toyo Ito, Shigeru Ban, and many more work with services like Arup. Like Jespersen, Cecil Balmond, the chairman of Arup, worked with contemporary architects. Through the collaborative effort, architects and engineers understand many spectrums of design. The structure and materiality of a project become closely connected to form.


Transitioning from a masonry, load-bearing construction to a reinforced concrete and steel structure ensures that parts can be pre-fabricated and construction becomes cheaper. Jacobsen was aware of the rising popularity of such construction and answered with his own prototypes: the Mill House and the Jespersen and Søn office building. The appeal of modularity played out not only in construction, but across multiple designs. Jacobsen employed pre-fabrication and design re-use in his architecture practice. Some elements of this building can be found in his other works, such as the circular stairs.

The measure of the curtain wall dictates the spacing of the cubicles within the building as well as the spacing of the tapered beams off of which the curtain wall hangs. The curtain wall also reflects the use of the building by obscuring the floor slabs and office workers below their desks with opaque panels. The building is supported by two concrete pillars in its core, which decrease in size and weight towards the top of the building. Tapered beams extend in opposite directions from the columns, balancing the loads. The curtain wall is suspended off of these beams but it does not reach the ground floor. Instead, the curtain-wall facade allows the ground level to be completely open, making the courtyard accessible for cars.