THE AUDO, COPENHAGEN
A unique concept that reflects the rapidly changing intersection of home, work and hospitality in a single, community-building universe, The Audo is a mix of contemporary design in a traditional space that offers a fresh perspective on multi-use buildings.
With The Audo, MENU and Norm Architects introduces a creative hybrid to the Copenhagen neighbourhood of Nordhavn – a former industrial port that has recently been transformed into a waterfront destination with award-winning architecture, leading furniture showrooms, young creative studios and a growing population of design-savvy residents. It masterfully unites co-working and event facilities, a café, restaurant and concept store, as well as an exclusive hotel residence through design, making transitions from one space to another seamless, inspiring and pleasurable. Facilitating and celebrating human interaction, connection and artistic expression, The Audo is an ever-changing yet always welcoming home for international creative individuals to collaborate, experiment and inspire one-another. It operates from the belief that knowledge-sharing drives creativity, builds healthier communities and can lead to higher quality work. The house and its name are built upon this philosophy, borrowing from the Latin phrase Ab Uno Disce Omnes, meaning ‘from one, learn all’.
Conceived by Bjarne Hansen, founder and former CEO of MENU – a globally recognised leader in the design and lifestyle space – this project was created with the vision to connect kindred spirits from all over the world. Speaking about the concept, Hansen says: “Blurring the lines between home-life and work, uniting design, business and community in one innovative space that is alive and under constant renewal, The Audo as a concept is a unique place to experience elements of our built environment as a whole.”
Collaboration and experimentation are at heart of The Audo, and the space is a testimony to what is possible when creative minds meet and play under one roof. For the opening of the space in spring 2019, Hansen worked with Norm Architects as principal architects, and Nathan Williams, co-founder of Kinfolk magazine, as creative director for the brand ́s identity. Together, they developed the concept and vision for the building, and have made it a reality with a dedicated team, partners and collaborators from the creative industry.
A testimony to the future of design, The Audo owes its timeless interiors to lead architect Jonas Bjerre-Poulsen, founder of Norm Architects, and Peter Eland, partner at Norm Architects. To realise their vision for The Audo, Jonas, Peter and the Norm team completed a full-scale renovation, approaching the project with great respect for the 1918 building in Nordhavn – one of the oldest in an area once dedicated to fishing and shipping. As an homage to its historic character, Norm Architects chose to preserve the building’s neo-baroque façade. Internally, The Audo resembles a collector’s home with items by talented friends and The Audo ́s brand partners showcased throughout the concept store, ten boutique hotel rooms, café and lobby. “I hope this becomes a reference point for social encounters within the field of culture for young, creative professionals.” Jonas says. “Globally, I hope we can contribute to new ways of thinking about blending work, life, and travel.”
Nearly all of the pre-existing partition walls have been knocked through to form a huge, open-plan ground level with concrete tile floors and perforated black metal ceilings. Dotted throughout are contrastingly tactile white boucle sofas, veiny marble coffee tables and chocolate-coloured velvet armchairs. Tucked away on the top floor, the Audo Residence is a 10-room hotel that offers understated and intimate loft-style retreats. Designed to be richer in tone, the rooms feature terracotta plaster walls and Dinesen oak floorboards, as well as oat-coloured bed throws and rugs. “On the ground floor, the house is symbolically transparent in the sense that the materials chosen for these spaces are raw and industrial, reflecting the spirit of the site – genius loci,” says Jonas. “The further you move up in the house, the more intimate and warm the selection of materials become, the rooms invoke a sense of calm and serenity.”
Each room shares a connection, but is individual at the same time and each includes a hand-picked range of products and exhibition pieces for guests to enjoy. The Cliffs Suite is a breezy, sandy room with tactile details and rich textiles giving you a sense of being close to the coasts of Denmark. The colours are light with darker details and the materials are natural – wood and light plaster walls being the main characters in this room. The interior of the room honours classic yet modern design and artistic details.
The Foliage suite is a warm, terracotta coloured, spacious room. The interiors are tone-on-tone, and the materials are rich and tactile. The bathroom is sleek and intriguing. The furniture connects the space as a bedroom, living room and workspace, honouring the intention of the house. The Oak Suite sends warm thoughts to a fusion of Japanese and Nordic crafts. The room consists of bespoke furniture and panels in oak. The styling products are simple but elegant creating a minimal, yet cosy atmosphere. The Granite room has a warm grey base and speckles of colour. The furniture is elegant, and the light from the window creates a dramatic effect as it moves along the space creating shadows. The space is cosy and the styling pieces tactile and warm in material. Lunar Landscape is a subtle, monochrome room with a feel of dark skies. The colours are tone-on-tone, and materials are rich and tactile. The main materials used in the room are textile and stones. The bathroom is sleek and intriguing. The space is moody and homey and the styling objects are elegant and sculptural. Red Clay is a dramatic room filled with artistic pieces and bold, red colours. The textiles are textured and tactile, the lights industrial pieces playing their part as sculptural elements in the room. Minimal art decorates the room, contributing to the rich feel of red soil. Natural leather is a spacious room, welcoming you with textured textiles, warm wooden surfaces and rich marble. Bespoke panels, a closet and a plinth match the warm oak floors. Brass details bring depth to the space and honours classic yet modern design. Forest is an elegant room with a modern yet decorative vibe. Natural tones appear both on furniture and walls. The oak floors and doors/panels provide a feel of quality and craftsmanship. The styling pieces and lights are classic and minimalistic, and the furniture upholstered. Dunes is a room inspired by the dunes of Skagen, with the richness of warm white hues setting the vibe of the environment. The colours are tone-on-tone, a light version of the Audo universe. The styling pieces are sculptural and elegant.
The North Penthouse contains a calming feeling, making up a soft canvas. The airy and whiter northern concept is softened by tactile materials such as woollen rugs, natural stones and rich textiles. It’s light and serene with a high, open-vaulted ceiling. The room consists of a connected sleep and living space with a selection of bespoke furniture, books, works of art and amenities. The colour spectrum of the Penthouse is inspired by the Nordic landscape with St. Leo painted walls and warm oak floors from Dinesen. Guests have a spacious en-suite bathroom with a walk-in shower, large bathtub and organic towels and bathrobes by Tekla. Sleep is luxurious with a continental king size bed from DUX and organic bed linens by Aiayu. The room is accessible by elevator during front desk opening hours as well as a private stairway both day and night.
Commenting on the challenges faced during the project, Peter Eland stated: “The exterior of the building has historical references to a period of time when buildings in Copenhagen were inspired by Greek and Roman architecture, entering the early dawn of modernism, while the inside was a rational and industrial concrete structure that allowed us to transform the building rather freely. It is always a challenge to refurbish such a building, as the demands of services needed are completely different from the original purpose and period of time in which the building came to be. Working to create a combined showroom, shop, restaurant, office space and boutique hotel required different kinds of circulation, acoustics, ventilation and so on. Fitting all these functions and mechanical services into a historic building of 2500sqm was probably the biggest challenge.” Peter adds: “Working on the identity of the space and concept, we’ve been drawing on traditional norms of good design in order to connect the refined, modern interiors with the history of the building. The building stands as a holistic house where the visitor will find that all functions are connected throughout the spaces and material palettes.”
DESIGN: Norm Architects
SUPPLIERS: Dinesen, Aiayu, August Sandgren, B&O, Dedar, Dinesen, DUX, Geberit, Hansgrohe, Kolon, Kronos Ceramiche, Sacho, St. Leo, Sørensen Leather, Turn and Quilts of Denmark