Architecture: classicism, historicism and modernism


From antiquity to concrete

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Danish architectural styles have changed many times from the mid-18th century to the mid-20th century. The styles have reflected the changing architectural ideals of the day, as well as the purely practical limitations of construction technology. Originally taking the cue from antiquity and traditional brick and mortar constructions, buildings came to take on a more rationalist, timeless look. New materials such as iron, concrete and glass contributed to the growing industrialisation of construction.

Classicism’s influence on Danish architecture began one night in 1755. The event was the recruiting of Frenchman Nicolas-Henri Jardin to complete construction of Copenhagen’s Frederik’s Church, Jardin had studied antiquity in Rome and the impressions served as his inspiration for a classicist form of architecture: simple forms, regular facades and precisely formed festoons and other flourishes. Jardin was soon made a professor of architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts. Created in 1754, the Academy established a new, formalised framework for architecture.

Model buildings
Jardin didn’t stay on to see the completion of Frederik’s Church. Instead he became responsible for the construction of other buildings, including Bernstorff Castle in 1765. The castle, located outside Copenhagen, became the model for scores of manors across the country. Jardin had a number of pupils that carried on in the same classically inspired…

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