Reportage

A Hidden Garden

Reportage

6 juli, 2022

Reportage

6 juli, 2022

A grand villa or perhaps a piccolo palazzo; it’s either way an amazing house.

The lovely, arched window above the gate has been carefully restored and an extra pane has been added on the interior. The old gateway itself has recently been turned into a gorgeous orangery kitchen.

The original gate is back in place and nothing hints of the orangery behind the façade, a secluded garden. Details were saved both outside and inside by RAVN Arkitektur to preserve the over all impression and make visible the history of the room. Of these interior remnants, obviously the arched window is the most prominent.

The house in Dag Hammarskjölds Allé, former Østerbrogade of Copenhagen, was designed by architect Albert Oppenheim and erected in 1918. Its first tenant was Franz Norstrand, a general consul. In 1949, the Embassy of Canada moved in and stayed for sixty odd years, and in 2011 the property was acquired by Anders Kirk Johansen. For more than a decade he has restored the place, and now the old embassy is about to open as Villa Canada, a short term private and exclusive residential living in a grand villa or perhaps a piccolo palazzo; it’s either way an amazing house.

Director of the House & Concierge Service is Anders Ølsted Jensen. He takes us for a guided tour winding through suites with duck feather and down bolster pillows like cumulus clouds, furniture from fashionable Frato, and incomparable Danish Bang & Olufsen on the wall, marble bathrooms and lustrous tubs from Hurlingham, lounges with period furniture and gracefully hand-painted tropical landscapes on tapestries, and a dashing salle a manger with a glossy black, long dining table from the Canadian Embassy - Villa Canada honours the history of the house with a maple leaf in its logo.

Nothing happened by chance here. It was all thoroughly thought through. Anders Kirk Johansen has perfect pitch. He blends style and shape as he wishes.

In every corner, the past is present. The Romanesque orangery window is all around, and there are glass doors with bars like tendrils and stairs with wooden parapets of fancy carved traceries, all painstakingly refurbished by the current owner.

Nothing happened by chance here. It was all thoroughly thought through. Anders Kirk Johansen has perfect pitch. He blends style and shape as he wishes – art déco, modern black and white photography on floral pattern wallpaper, a brittle chandelier from Murano, brass bath tubs shining like gold, mixer and toaster from SMEG with fanciful décor by Dolce & Gabbana, Remy Martin Louis XIII in hand blown crystal and so on. Assembling a flamboyant collection like this is no doubt a serious business, although one suspects he had good fun doing it; putting playful pieces of art together indeed seems to be an activity suitable for a grandchild of the famous LEGO founder.

Life and work of Godtfred Kirk Christiansen has always been a great source of inspiration to his grandson. His old desk is now in the office of Villa Canada. With prosperous estates in Jutland, and My Garage, a company dealing with luxury cars nationwide, Anders Kirk Johansen himself is a driven entrepreneur. As such, he saw the prospects of Villa Canada. There was a lacuna in the market, a gap; Copenhagen clearly lacked a short term residential premise for visitors who prefer sophisticated journeying. Now Villa Canada offers its guests an elevated experience of their stay in the Danish capital.

Via a stone paved court with trained pear trees and a staircase, we return to the terrace of the orangery. Citrus fruits were rare and highly prized in ancient Rome. Early on, wealthy Romans started growing them in large terra cotta pots. In Renaissance Italy, cultivating citrus in pots and sheltering the plants over winter saw a great revival and soon enough became à la mode in France. Up here in the north, the first orangeries were built in the late 1500s. The orangery was heated with glowing charcoal in braziers. In winter, the frost sensitive trees were housed indoors and in spring they were brought out on terraces and lawns. By and by, the orangery became a place for divertissement and pleasure.

Photo: Tina Stephansen
Photo: Tina Stephansen
RAVN Arkitektur envisaged the orangery kitchen as the informal hub of the house and an extension of the terrace where guests gather among citrus and olive - a hidden garden, a Mediterranean oasis in the middle of a Nordic metropole. Mission accomplished, end of story.

The kitchen entry by the terrace is glassed; light flows through the room, and pours down from a roof lantern. RAVN Arkitektur certainly has taken pains to create a classical idiom with a modern expression. The wall panelling is simply exquisite. Kvänum had the honour of delivering fixed furniture and woodwork. Owner’s and architect’s pick for this orangery kitchen is our Real Classic Broby in the colour of Green Smoke from Farrow & Ball, an excellent choice; the hue matches the hazy green of the quiet, exotic wallpaper sceneries.

Broby is a traditional, recessed frame door. The inner edge of the frame has a gentle moulding. Kitchen island doors are covered, whereas one of the tall cabinets facing each other on opposite walls is a magnificent vitrine; the glass enhances the ambience of an orangery. The other one has covered doors. The stylish coping on top neatly aligning with the panelling was added by Kvänum’s architect Dorthe Due Theilade who also managed our project on set. It’s all painted by hand. The brass knob is delightful Frö.

When they took on the assignment, RAVN Arkitektur envisaged the orangery kitchen as the informal hub of the house and an extension of the terrace where guests gather among citrus and olive - a hidden garden, a Mediterranean oasis in the middle of a Nordic metropole. Mission accomplished, end of story.

Anders Ølsted Jensen & Dorthe Due Theilade
Discover Broby

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