Occupying a century-old water pumping station in Copenhagen, Denmark, the two-bedroom Vipp Chimney House, which takes its name from the 35-metre high minaret-shaped chimney that towers over the historic building, was designed by Danish architectural practice Studio David Thulstrup (SDT) as a showcase of Danish homeware brand Vipp. Sporting a cutting edge sophistication of contemporary minimalism, seamlessly interweaved with the industrial heritage of the 1902 edifice, the house is the third outpost of Vipp Hotel, the brand’s innovative take on the hospitality industry, whereby each “room” is located in a different location – the other two destinations comprising a loft in a historic printing factory in the centre of Copenhagen, also designed by SDT, and a cabin in the Swedish woods, with one more on the way.
What makes this project stand out is the transformative yearlong renovation that has turned the once dilapidated heritage-listed building into a paradigm of contemporary living thanks to SDT’s bold architectural intervention. This tackled everything from the building’s volume and internal configuration, to the finest details such as bespoke handles and custom designed, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, not to mention the meticulous restoration of the monumental chimney.
The most dramatic gesture of the renovation is undoubtedly the introduction of a new upper level. Formed by extruding the gabled roofline of the original building, the new volume is harmoniously integrated into the restored brick structure and yet stands out in its black steel cladding, initiating a dialogue between the past and the present that the interior design picks up.
Black steel is also used for the most dramatic feature inside the house, namely the U-shaped staircase that divides the open plan ground floor into a dining and living zone, as well as other architectural elements like window frames and doors, echoing the matt black of Vipp’s universe, most notably its sleek, all-black, high-end kitchen units which of course couldn’t be missing from Chimney House. Clad in extruded aluminium panelling, the imposing volume of the staircase appears nevertheless lightweight and buoyant, glowing as it does in the abundant natural light flooding in from the arched windows, which were extended to the ground level and turned into steel-framed doors, and a large skylight above providing breath-taking views of the chimney’s stem.
A neutral colour palette of light greys further enhances the brightness of the interiors as well as unifies the existing and new building fabric, crucially without effacing the distinction. Whereas the existing brickwork of the building shell has been treated with a warm grey, new internal walls were constructed out of exposed concrete – such as a cubic volume on the ground floor that houses the bathroom – while a custom-developed cast terrazzo floor, which extends outside forming a new terrace, acts as a bridge between them.
Upstairs, a new mezzanine level comprises two bedrooms, each with floor-to-ceiling glazing facing the atrium formed by the L-shaped floorplate. “You can see from one bedroom to the other and there’s an exchange of natural light. It’s provocative in a way, and an architectural suggestion about flexible modern living where people can control their own levels of privacy,” says David Thulstrup, founder and creative director of SDT.
The atrium is dominated by three 5-metre long pendant lamps made from stacked Perspex discs that were especially designed for the project. The impressive suspended installation is just one of the several bespoke pieces designed by SDT such as a dining table of birch burl veneer, a high-gloss coffee table, and a brushed aluminium sideboard, eclectically complemented by a selection of sleek furniture by Vipp and a curated collection of contemporary artworks, creating a unique ambience of cutting edge sophistication that nevertheless welcomes guests in a homely environment.