Jacobsen, the weighting of the essential thing | Marcelo Gardinetti

Perspectiva, Arne Jacobsen 1936
Perspective, Arne Jacobsen 1936

The prelude of the second world war limited the architectural productions of the European countries involved in the contest (fundamentally Germany, France and Italy) where, in reason of the most influential impellers of the activity being seated, the modern movement was developing with major obstinacy.

In a competing way, there becomes massive the diffusion of works constructed to the north of these countries, which they were supporting for an architecture conciliadora between to think mecanicista and rationally of the modern movement and an update of the vernacular regionalism, panorama where Alvar Aalto’s figure emerges like the most significant.

Between the emergent actors for these conditions there stands out Arne Jacobsen’s work, who laid the foundations of his architecture in the decade of 30, but it reached the international consideration in the postwar period. Influenced in his first years by Corbusier and Eric Gunnar Asplund, and in the maturity for Mies Van der Rohe, his work expresses a ferreous will for emphasizing the transcendent thing, avoiding the forms and excessive complements, happening the employment of a determined care for the geometric proportion and the almost handcrafted use of the materials.

Jacobsen also was unclasped by his designs of furniture and objects, some icónicos like the chairs Ant, Egg and Swan, or the cutlery that Stanley Kubrick made famous in the movie “2001 Odyssey of the Space”, revealing in all his works a subtle affinity for the plastic abstract arts.

estación de servicio de Skovshoved Arne Jacobsen
Gas station in Skovshoved, Arne Jacobsen

One of the accomplishments who identifies with major emphasis the first stage of his work was Skovshoved’s gas station, a small work that summarizes the sobriety of his constructive idea, but that in addition demonstrates some of the most tidy passions of the modern architecture without stopping invoking a careful regional character.

Constructed in 1936 in a coastal road to the north of Copenhagen, originally it was thought as a prototype about series for the petroleum company Texaco, but this idea did not prosper and it is station is only built. His architecture is outlined for the elegant nature of his composition, summarized in the union of a massive volume and a free horizontal plane.

The principal body of the station is summarized to a rectangular plant that contains the offices, the place of sales and the sanitary ones. On the front, he has a vain transparent only one that coincides with the width of the top slab, with a door of access to the place of attention and other one that he reports with the principal lounge. The carpentry is completed by two transparent cloths that allow the natural lighting of both places. From a door of minor size located in the lateral part one accedes to the place of service.

Meisnner‘s coating ceramics covers the structure granting to the vertical paraments a modulated and neutral texture. Four glass bricks distributed symmetrically on the front accentuate the visual weight of the building. The clock located in the top left end was placed in replacement of the word “texaco” existing in his origin.

Arne Jacobsen. Texaco Gas Station. Skovshoved 1936 Photographer Lotte Grønkjær
Arne Jacobsen. Texaco Gas Station. Skovshoved 1936 | Photographer Lotte Grønkjær

The flat cover that stands out of the volume defines the place of expenditure of fuel. Thought as independent element, actually it is a prolongation of the cover of the office block. It is shaped by the intersection of a rectangular plane attached to the volume by an ellipse that rests on the only column located in the center of his figure.

The totality of the building is shaped in reinforced concrete dominated by the white tone, chromatic choice that affirms the modernist aesthetics and exalts his profile in the weak solar light of the Danish landscape. A series of reflectors were located in the wall of front under the ellipse, to highlight the plane in the night, establishing a night emblem on the route.

The building was declared national wealth, restored in 2003 by request of Gentofte’s town hall. At present there is kept the service of expenditure of fuel under the salient slab, but the principal body of the building already does not belong to the station and is used as coffee.

Oil Station Fotografía: Maarten Helle
Gas station | Photography: Maarten Helle

Consistent with his later career, the principal contribution of this Jacobsen’s work resides in the bold contraction of the architecture to the sobriety of the essential elements, the employment of smooth colors and the strict geometric modulation. The aesthetic refinement and the elegance in the constructive details dogmatize the architecture of the station as a mechanism of abstraction where the compactness and the levity are connected in delicate balance.

Marcelo Gardinetti. Architect
La Plata, Argentina. Juny 2016

Marcelo Gardinetti

No voy a hablar de la penumbra, mejor voy a ver si puedo despertar.

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