Friis and Moltke, a danish firm since 1954 is known for their innovative concepts with human-centric designs and sustainability at the core of their approach. They have been successful and relevant due to the belief in the ever-evolving notion of sustainability according to time and place. 

Friis & Moltke- 15 Iconic Projects
Knud Friis and Elmar Moltke ©friis-moltke.com

The pertinence continues with the inclusion of the latest technologies such as BIM and VR in their practice, going a notch higher in terms of providing better user experience and project management. Competition has always been their strong pursuit helping them bag many projects and earn numerous awards. They consider competitions as a platform that provides a new outlook on architecture practice. 

They have offices in Aalborg, Aarhus & Copenhagen and deal with a wide range of projects from housing to apartment blocks, institutions to hospitals, prisons, cultural centres, and stadiums.

Here is a list of projects done by Friis and Moltke.

1. New Church House for Herning Church, Herning

The church design serves as a perfect example of being greatly contextual yet modern, standing out and bringing distinct style and character. The building sits between varied typologies on both sides, a large-scale church on one hand and villas on the other. The extension building comprises an arrival area, café, offices, conversation rooms, and a multipurpose hall. 

Friis and Moltke cleverly shaped the design taking existing scale and material as a basis. It brought out a double-sided sloping roof, oriented in a way paying homage to architecture styles on both sides. The addition of a double façade made of bricks with perforations and details brings about a unique play of light and shadows and the spaces formed to serve as an arrival and interior courtyard.

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2. Future Dementia Nursing Home, Randers

The Health construction of the year 2017, the award-winning project is a perfect example of how nursing facilities and care homes should look like. Rather than being designed as institutions that can be depressive and boring, it should generate comfort, homeliness, and a familiar environment to let the patients spend the rest of the days in peace.

Friis and Moltke have designed a nursing home for dementia patients as well as a daycare for children. The center has four different residential units with courtyards and service areas. Ease in navigation and recognition for patients is facilitated by outdoor walkways and the use of different colors. Special care has been taken for units to resemble in scale and proportion with the user’s local neighborhood to invoke a sense of locality.

Technological aid provided like glass skylights in common areas with automatic control for temperature and sun protection, sliding door automation primarily at entrances to service buildings, also the incorporation of cardiac rhythmic lightning helps compensate for disability and have a huge positive difference.

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3. Tjorring School and Day-care, Herning

School buildings are not just a place to learn but should stimulate the senses of children and challenge their abilities and potentials. The innovative and exciting star-shaped structure designed by Friis and Moltke integrates daycare, kindergarten & primary school for children up to the age of 14. 

It seems to be emerging from the landscape giving it distinct characteristics with its white facades and green roofs. The five wings meet at the central hub which has the pulse of the activities throughout the day. The pockets created due to the building’s shape forms outdoor spaces for different activities.

According to Friis & Moltke “a good interplay between buildings and the surrounding landscape, as well as between the internal rooms and the materials, is an important factor for the atmosphere you experience in the room”.

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4. Single-family House, Palsgaard Estate

The rustic-looking small house for a third-generation couple in a 20-hectare stretched park can be defined as a piece of nature within nature. Friis and Moltke have metaphorically explained the overall circular design as a cake that has been sliced to form three lengths. The cuts have been integrated into terraces defined by low height walls. 

The house is covered with acacia chipboards which over time will turn silver grey serving as a perfect example of architecture as transcendental beauty. The warm color tone used overall indicates merging in and growing old with nature. The planning and interior have been kept simple and functional with a single unit consisting of living, movable kitchen, and dining. 

The other two units are divided into sleeping areas with toilets, Spaces are flanked by large openings facilitating contact with nature and allowing natural light.

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5. Udsigten, Aalborg (Housing)

The nine-story residential property, located on raised level benefits itself with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and low-rise buildings. The building consists of 84 apartments of varying sizes offering balconies or private gardens to most of them. The façade has been meticulously designed with brick cladding detailing along with changing window and balcony positions giving the overall form a playful look. 

Friis and Moltke were honored and awarded in 2020 by the “Committee of Building Award” for this design.

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6. Pietas Meditation House, DNV-Gødstrup

Pietas can be defined as a place to offer and show religiosity, duty, loyalty, devotion to gods, country, and loved ones. This proposal came as a solution to the concern of not having a place for people to contemplate after the relocation of a city hospital. Friis and Moltke along with sculptor Ingvar Cronhammar have created a triangular-shaped structure symbolizing stability and concentration, aimed to eventually reflect in patient’s and relative’s minds too. 

According to designers, a strong shape of a triangle in itself expresses a different function and hence will invite and attract people. The building will be 24.5 m at each joint and 7m high and will entirely be in white. “We try to create an immersive space where the relief comes much in focus. There is nothing else in its room than ‘Pietas’, and then some furniture, you can sit on”, says the architect.

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7. University College North, Aalborg

Situated on the educational campus, the new minimalistic central building comes out as a dynamic educational hub, which also plays the role of unifying the whole campus. It has been designed by Friis and Moltke in collaboration with ADEPT. The strong geometry and the monotony of the brick façade have been broken by varying fenestration with unique brick details and a square space that cuts through the building. 

The heart of the overall design lies in the atrium created uniquely with small niches and plateaus spanning and connecting all the floors. Also, the tree in the center adds to the bright, airy, and multifaceted space.

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8. House of Music, Aalborg

The project predominantly has a 1300 capacity concert hall, surrounded by rectilinear training halls both foreshadowed by an elaborate five-story curvilinear foyer. It has been designed by Austrian studio Coop Himmelb (l) in collaboration with Friis and Moltke. 

The central part is surrounded by observational windows at numerous points to look into concert halls. It helps in creating an exchange between the audience, artists, students, and teachers. The flowing and curvaceous design is also imbedded with curved balconies for striking views

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9. Roskilde

Friis and Moltke along with WE architects aim to create such a learning environment that is flexible to accommodate a variety of needs of an individual as well as sustainable to meet the requirement of the future. The new campus for 1500 students contains classrooms, canteen, administration, and kitchen. According to architects, the concept around which the entire design is based is “Community”, “Respect”, “Sustainability. 

The building is divided into three elements: the crown, the sculptor, and the pavilion. The crown contains all the classrooms around a central pavilion. The sculptor accommodates service areas like staircases with interactive areas. Lastly, the glass pavilion has a canteen and auditorium and is brought outside to the inside.

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10. New Prison in Nuuk, Greenland

Architecture has always had the power to be a social catalyst. With the main focus to achieve the balance between punishment and rehabilitation, this proposal for a new prison in Nuuk has been presented and won by Friis and Moltke and Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects. The contrasting theme of tough and beautiful dominated the entire project. 

This concept is visible in the choice of materials which are wood, Corten steel, and concrete. It has five residential units along with leisure facilities and an administrative division. With known psychological effects of nature on our mental being, the design takes full advantage of the scenic location as well as natural terrain to create a socially responsible design.

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11. Hospice Vangen, Aalborg

Hospice is an institute providing care for people undergoing serious illness, therefore it demands a peaceful and contemplating environment, offering solace to the patients and family undergoing mental stress. The subdued and welcoming architecture created by Friis and Moltke does exactly that. 

The design forms an 8, forming two courtyards covered by a single large saddle roof which also extends to the outdoor seating. This helps in giving a homely vibe and brings it to the human scale without overpowering the patient’s senses. The white plastered walls along with wooden cladding bring about innate charm, naturalness, and warmth to the whole quiet environment.

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12. Villa in Aarhus

Taking full advantage of the existing undulating terrain and scenic beauty, Friis and Moltke proposed a strikingly dynamic villa in the form of a folded disc. This has allowed the advantage to access the garden at two levels. The slanting of the horizontal plane translates into interaction with the surrounding landscape. 

Further, the boundaries between inside and outside have been blurred by floor-to-ceiling glass. The robustness and solidity of the whole built form reflect strong contrast to the surroundings as well as to the warm interiors.

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13. Cold War Museum- Regan West

The stated project is the competition proposal given by Friis and Moltke for a Cold War Museum at North Jutland. It was a bunker facility in the period 1963-68 used for housing government officials. One crosses the dense forest and is presented with the sheer brutal expression of the building which indicates the era of fear and despair. 

The sharp, discrete geometry of the structure is subdued by the green surroundings. It is further softened when one enters the center of the building which is the building foyer that also acts as the vantage point for all other activities. The whole environment is designed as sculpture, a symbol of remembrance of the bygone era.

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14. Youth Housing on Langagervej, Aalborg

The project comprises 130 homes, a housing facility for students coming from far away to study, helping the youth connect with other young people. The buildings’ location with surrounding buzz and many educational institutions in the vicinity justifies its closed fort-like exterior. The heavy steel armored façade opens out in the interior courtyard. 

The natural steep terrain of the site provides a column-supported entrance into the courtyard which houses many activities like a common room, gaming areas, barbeque space, tables, benches, and space for interaction and various activities. The living units are housed on upper floors advantageously providing the view of the surroundings.

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15. Multipurpose hall, Thisted

The hall serves as an extension to the gymnasium. The original school in bare concrete also designed by Friis and Moltke in the early 1970s gives us a glimpse of the start of their own devised language of brutalism. The organic shape seemingly projecting out of the terrain is cladded with Corten steel inviting of its distinct identity and function. 

With time, the hall gained its popularity as the cultural symbol of the town and deservingly bagged the Thisted Municipality architecture prize in 2012 as “A good example of beautiful and contemporary construction.”

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Author

Trupti Agrawal is an architect by profession, an artist from the heart. She is an ardent reader and a believer in the power of art, being a great tool in uplifting human consciousness. She strives to tap into intangible aspects of human psychology through her art, which makes her a keen learner and an earnest listener, and a deep observer.

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