Hand-made shingle shell: Kannikegarden in Ribe
Client: Rat der Dompfarrei Ribe
Architect: Lundgaard & Tranberg
Location: Ribe (DK)
Not only is Ribe regarded as the best-preserved mediaeval town in Denmark, its cathedral is also the country's most significant Romanesque place of worship. Anyone erecting a new building opposite the church is thus operating on (and in) ground redolent with history. This is something the parochial church council became aware of on deciding to build its new cathedral priory at the site, where a residential and business building had burnt down in 2000. Archaeologists discovered the oldest Christian graves in Denmark on the property, as well as refectory wall remnants from the 12th century. As the refectory once served as a dining hall to the canons (Danish: kannike) of the neighbouring church, the new parish centre now bears the name Kannikegarden.
One of the specifications of the architectural competition in 2012 thus required integration of the historical brick walls in the new building. Lundgaard & Tranberg won the contest with a design that makes a more archaic and also more modern impression than the neighbouring brick houses with their traditional masonry work. Half of the new building's glazed ground floor serves as a publicly accessible exhibition space; the other half is taken up by a multi-purpose hall and the entrance foyer to the cathedral priory. On the southern side of the building, facing away from the Cathedral Square, a garden courtyard forms a stepped transition between the level of the street and the excavation site some 2.50 metres deeper.
Square columns placed along the glass façade and constructed out of rough, board-formed concrete support the upper storeys. Broad pivoted oak planks that can be turned by hand into desired positions (using a little force) accompany the columns for shading purposes. A coat of colourless pine tar diluted with linseed oil lends the wood a golden yellow hue. Roughly hewn oak beams, some of them slightly crooked, form a suspended lamella ceiling on the ground floor. Offices and an assembly hall with about 100 seats fill the upper floors. Here a shell of clay shingles 63 x 35 cm in size and 3 cm thick conceal the load-bearing steel skeleton on the outside. Hand-made with a dimensional tolerance of over a centimetre, the shingles produce a rugged-looking aesthetic. Gutters are hidden behind box-like clay tile encasements held in place by large steel clamps. The only straightish edges on the building consist of the verges and ridge in greenish-brown tombac metal.
Inside the building, the architects sought to avoid all white surfaces. Strip parquet has been used for the floors, and the plasterboard walls and ceilings are painted dark red and ochre, with surface-mounted lamps lighting them up to dramatic effect. Nor will fluorescent lighting be encountered anywhere; rather, workplaces are illuminated by pendant lamps more likely to be found in private study rooms and above dining room tables.