Bellevue, Arne Jacobsen´s the “summer dream” | Rodrigo Almonacid

Cartel de los años 30 con el Teatro ‘Bellevue’ de Arne Jacobsen
Cartel of the 30s with the Theatre Arne Jacobsen’s ‘Bellevue’

Since the summer already we it have above, reading darling, it wanted to share with you the statement of what was the “summer dream“ of the Danish architect Arne Jacobsen (1902-71) for Bellevue’s beach, in the decade of the 30s of last century. An episode of modernity scantily recognized by the historiography of the modern European architecture, but that it captivates to whom (as you and I) we love the good and enterteining architecture. Allow me to use this allusion to the statement of Shakespeare, but you will see that the architectural marvels that it contains well justify this title.

At the beginning of 1931 Arne Jacobsen gained the contest summoned by Gentofte’s municipality to project the new facilities for Bellevue’s beach in Klampenborg’s site. Placed to few kilometres of the capital of Denmark, the place had been recently altered on having had turned aside the tracing of the Strandvejen, the road that passes for the oriental littoral of Sjælland’s island. The space liberated between the shore of the sea and the new Strandvej was going to turn into a new urban park designed by the main landscape architect C.Th.Sørensen.

Acuarela del Pabellón de Acceso a la playa Bellevue según propuesta de Arne Jacobsen para el concurso de proyectos de 1931.
Water-color of the Pavilion of Access to the beach Bellevue according to Arne Jacobsen’s offer for the project contest in 1931.

The town hall was proposing to give service to 12.000-15.000 persons every day in his new beach, and more after the impulse of the connection of Klampeborg-Copenhagen across new ships of major size and of the new line of streetcar. For his design, Jacobsen had to consider shelter a few facilities of wardrobes, bathroom and some position of sale, though he would end up by designing many more buildings and even up to the tickets of access to the fenced enclosure of the beach.

Arne Jacobsen Puesto de venta de helados (izqda.) y diseño de tickets y tarrina de helados para la playa Bellevue (dcha.)
Arne Jacobsen. Position of sale of ice creams (left side) and I design of tickets and tarrina of ice creams for the beach Bellevue (right side)

In only approximately 6 years more it would end up by completing the whole architectural set that still today continues being admired and enjoyed for the Danish citizens. I could visit it already it does more than one decade to complete the investigation for my doctoral thesis on Arne Jacobsen, and because of it I know that I am not wrong on having recommended to you to visit it without you go to Denmark, reading darling.

The new facilities for the bath were located solving the difference between the meadow of lawn of the park and the sand of the beach, fulfilling this way the exigency of the contest it brings over of not obstructing the sights from any place, on having remained semi-buried. A wall of containment parallel to the shore of the sea would use as support to both pieces of wardrobes, solved with a long common wardrobe close to the wall and a series of 6 bodies each one for individual cubicles finished off with a shower in his testero. The pavilions of bathroom were completing the set, placing the feminine ones close to the access in decrease from the park, and the masculine ones closing the enclosure of bath for the north side. Skilful decisions subject to a few beginning funcionalistas was clear that Jacobsen could have known first hand on having visited some similar facilities in the north of Germany recently.

Arne Jacobsen Plano original del conjunto de edificios proyectados para Bellevue (noviembre de 1935). Leyenda (0) Antiguo Hotel de la Playa existente en Klampenborg. (1) Pabellón de acceso al recinto de playa. (2a2b) Vestuarios femeninosmasculinos. (3a3b) Aseos femeninosmasculinos. (4) Club de piragüismo. (5) Escuela de hípica ‘Mattsson’. (6) Torre-mirador con el restaurante giratorio no construido. (7a7b) Teatro ‘Bellevue’ y restaurante adyacente. (8) Bloque de apartamentos ‘Bellavista’. (9) Futura ubicación del residencial ‘Soholm’ donde Jacobsen ubicaría su casa-estudio en 1951.
Arne Jacobsen. Original plane of the set of buildings projected for Bellevue (November, 1935). Legend (0) Former Hotel of the existing Beach in Klampenborg. (1) Pavilion of access to the beach enclosure. (2a2b) Wardrobes femeninosmasculinos. (3a3b) Bathroom femeninosmasculinos. (4) Club of piragüismo. (5) School of equine ‘Mattsson’. (6) Toast Viewing-point with the gyratory not constructed restaurant. (7a7b) Theatre ‘Bellevue’ and adjacent restaurant. (8) Block of apartments ‘Bellavista’. (9) Future location of the residential ‘Soholm’ where Jacobsen would locate his house – study in 1951.

But this way opposite to the rigid formalism funcionalista, Jacobsen found here the occasion to show a much more nice version for these modern aesthetics that had just been institutionally accepted in the northern countries after the celebration of the International Exhibition of Stockholm of 1930 directed by E.G.Asplund, with whom Jacobsen was supporting a fluid professional relation and a personal friendship as outstanding disciple that the Swedish teacher was recognizing in him. The happiness of that exhibition seemed to move to Bellevue, and Jacobsen designed a formal digest where the rigid Sachlichtkeit was bending to more cheerful and spontaneous formulae by means of colors and equally clean forms but without esquematismos. You form them they were answering to his function effectively, yes, but his expression was reflecting this joie of vivre of the summer vacations, this relaxing pleasure of of the Sun and the sea. That irony and spontaneity with which he had impregnated to his modern ephemeral creations for the “Exhibition of Construction and Housing” in the Forum of Copenhagen in 1929 (the C.L.O.C. Bar and his “Future House”) was breathed in Bellevue all over, making his users accomplices of them.

The white color was alluding to this snap of the architectural forefront but also in the light of the summer, and it was like that used as pooled money of all the compositions in Bellevue. Striping of blue cobalt were turning to the walls in textile matter, and it was helping to reinforce this longing of the virtues of the remote Mediterranean climate. Soon the white and the intense colors would give course for the pale shades of the northern climate, but before maturing these ideas the colors were showing the youth an architect who at the time scarcely was counting with 29 years when it started projecting Bellevue.

From the wavy striping of the pavilion of control of the access (included even in the own design of the ticket), the visitor was remaining anointed by these colors and forms, which later it would be discovering in kiosks, in positions of sale of ice creams and fruits, in the colchonetas of the wardrobes and up to in the cylindrical cabins of the rescuer.

Arne Jacobsen Puesto de venta de helados (“IS” en danés) y carrito móvil para venta de souvenirs y otros artículos para la apertura de la playa de Bellevue en 1932.
Arne Jacobsen. Position of sale of ice creams (“IS” in Danish) and mobile cart for sale of souvenirs and other articles for the opening of Bellevue’s beach in 1932.

The forms were so changed as the nature and were alluding to her with an unusual freshness. The architect was amusing himself giving form to this summer dream, constructing a landscape of certain surrealism. The position of ice creams was not but a wave raised in the middle of the sand; the cart of souvenirs was using the system of wheels – caterpillars of a tank but his cannon was now a parasol; the cabin of the rescuer was remaining left in the middle of the sea, and only one was acceding to her for boat from a steep steps of ship that was saving the height of 3 telephonic posts with which a frivolous covered cylinder was suspended in the air.

project (1931-32) would finish for be consolidating in the Bellevue Theatre (and Restaurant), the last one of the big pieces that would complete Jacobsen in this set of Klampenborg. Though Bellevue’s great fantasy was the panoramic and gyratory restaurant located in the high of a dizzy hollow prop, it is in the Theatre where this oneiric character they express with more property: towards the road, his concave – convex front turns into a great advertising curtain, with a dynamic marquee that seems to use as cover to whom they come there in a modern vehicle; the court of armchairs turns into a sea with soft surge, doing a metaphor of the waves with the wavy forms with which there are planned in continuity the supports of the rows of seats; the walls are draped with textiles (of fireproof material and absorbent telephone number, it yes) of white and blue striping, suggesting an air of encamped summer that was reinforced by the possibility of enjoying the summer sky on there having be constructed a sliding ceiling motorized on the spectators. The effect of perplexity and the summer atmosphere they should have been in his really impressive day.

Arne Jacobsen: Interior del Teatro ‘Bellevue’ (1935-37) con el patio de butacas convertido en suave oleaje, las paredes tapizadas con franjas de color azul y blanco, y el techo abierto al cielo.
Arne Jacobsen. Interior of the Theatre ‘Bellevue’ (1935-37) with the court of armchairs turned into soft surge, the walls draped with striping of blue and white color, and the ceiling opened for the sky.

The rest of the set of Bellevue it were completing the apartments Bellavista, the school of equine Mattsson, the club of piragüismo and the gas station Texaco. Each of the buildings are solved by his own functional logic but by the same common denominator of the rest of the set.

The building of apartments Bellavista chases the sights to the strait of the Øresund as leitmotiv to several scales: as block, since it is formed as one Or orientated to the sea with a central court like garden estancial collectivly to a level a little raised with regard to the Strandvej to avoid his noise and to be able to enjoy the sea without visual obstacles; as series of grouped units, so in 2 wings of her Or perpendicular to the littoral the apartments are chained forming series of 3 pairs who are turned and stagger to find a solution that achieves the intimacy of every apartment and has diagonal conference towards the marine horizon; and as apartment, since the covered terrace dares it turns into the piece outdoors fundamental that unifies spatially both principal stays of every floor.

Conjunto de edificios terminados en la playa Bellevue en 1937. De izquierda a derecha apartamentos ‘Bellavista’ (1931-34), Restaurante y Teatro ‘Bellevue'(1935-37) y escuela de hípica ‘Mattsson’ (1933-34). El club de piragüismo se contruiría al año siguiente justo frente al bloque residencial. El antiguo Hotel de la Playa aún permanecía flanqueando el acceso al recinto de la playa (derecha).
Set of buildings finished in the beach Bellevue in 1937. From left side to right apartments ‘Bellavista’ (1931-34), Restaurant and Theatre ‘Bellevue’ (1935-37) and school of equine ‘Mattsson’ (1933-34). The club of piragüismo contruiría on the following just year opposite to the residential block. The former Hotel of the Beach still continued flanking the access to the enclosure of the (right) beach.

The Mattsson equine school is a rectangular enclosure covered with a tunnel vault of concrete, creating a diaphanous space that was illuminated cenitalmente by an interesting lucernario of glass pieces embedded in the formwork. The canoeing  club joins semi-buried between the pedestrian walk close to the road and the sand of the beach, with a few white forms that are accompanied of trunks of wood for the exterior porch and from bibs of rounded corners defending the terrace outdoors, elements that Jacobsen had used in his Gudmidrup Lyng’s own house and in the nearby house Rothemborg in these years. And the Texaco gas station, with his marquee of concrete painted in an enameled white reluctante, is raised as symbolic icon of the formal universe that the visitor will discover little later, on having been placed just before coming to Klampenborg’s beach.

Perspectiva en acuarela del proyecto para la estación de servicio de la compañía ‘Texaco’ proyectada por Arne Jacobsen en 1937.
Perspective in water-color of the project for the service station of the company ‘Texaco’ projected by Arne Jacobsen in 1937.

He is a certain, dear reader, that to describe with words and success this set of Bellevue turns out to be fed up complicated. What yes we can assure is that of his result it remained very satisfied his author, Arne Jacobsen, so after his exile to Sweden (forced by the invasion Nazi of Denmark in the World War II) would end up by installing to his family and to his study in the same house placed in the new residential Søholm that he would construct at the end of the 40s and beginning of the 50. There, in simple “leaned”, Jacobsen would assemble his professional office, his familiar life and his personal leisure, which was passing principally in his garden. It turned to this space in a landscape and botanical laboratory, but also in a wonderful enclosure outdoors where to do his photographies and water-colors of those plants that he itself cultivated with devotion until the end of his days.

Today, in spite of the changes and alterations of the original use (since it happened with the Restaurant), Bellevue continues being a symbolic summer place in Denmark and thanks to recent interventions some facilities have recovered as the Theatre. Others have disappeared for his ephemeral original character (the positions of access and of sale of the beach), but the great majority they have pervivido these 80 years since they were constructed (apartments, club of piragüismo, equine, beach wardrobes), and preserve this summer atmosphere of which once Jacobsen dreamed them.

Happy summer dream, undoubtedly …

He enjoys him, reading darling, this small sequence of images what was originally Bellevue that I have wanted to prepare like video for the occasion. I hope that you like …

Rodrigo Almonacid [r-arquitectura] · PhD architect
Valladolid. july 2017

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