City Hall

Aarhus, Denmark | C.1941

Photo Credit: @ofeneck

Regimented and orderly architectural components distinguish the old Town Hall Aarhus, Denmark. Built during the height of World War II, the building was erected as a symbol of democratic governance despite being occupied by Nazi forces. The building is now a refined example of Danish modernism and houses the city council and court rooms.

Two City Hall locations predated the current site. The first was erected in the mid 15th century across from the Aarhus Cathedral, and then moved to a second building in 1857 northeast of the Cathedral. The second location was not only a city hall, but also operated as the courthouse and penitentiary. The need for a new City Hall in Aarhus, Denmark was made during a city hall meeting in 1937.  Shortly after a design competition was held and the new building was built and inaugurated in June 1941.

Famous Danish architects and designers Arne Jacobsen and Erik Møller, won the competition for the new City Hall design. Their original proposal however did not include a tower and was met with opposition from the public. Due to massive public pressure Jacobsen and Møller reluctantly added a 60-meter clock tower to their design, and also decided clad the structure in 6,000 square feet of imported Norwegian marble.

The new location for the current City hall was chosen on a small park known as Rådhusparken that was formerly used as a cemetery. Jacobsen and Møller’s design was laid out in three principal massing blocks, arranged asymmetrically to create separate wings within the building.

The interiors are a hallmark of Danish modern design. The hard lines, and boxed massing of the exteriors are softened with light materials and traditional Scandinavian design. The lobby eludes this warmth through its intricate black and white mosaic floor design, complemented by a gently curved wooden bench. Other sections of the building maintain the extraordinary details laid out in the lobby and carry the organic material palette beloved by Scandinavian design.

For over 70 years the City Hall has been the political and civic center of Aarhus and acted as a symbolic beacon representing the democracy the city upholds. To the world, designers and architects continue to be inspired by the bold design and aspire to create structures with such immense detail.

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