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A Rooftop Apartment Transformation in Copenhagen by Studio David Thulstrup


For his latest residential project, Vester Voldgade, award-winning architect and designer David Thulstrup has transformed a 150 square metre top floor apartment of an 1890s building in the centre of Copenhagen. In a city where chasing the light is part of everyday life for locals, no matter the season, David Thulstrup took point of departure in exactly that and prioritised implementing a greater sense of space through a range of bold architectural interventions.

“By opening up the volumes of the living spaces both vertically and horizontally and using quality materials, I re-introduced a feeling of calmness and balance into a space that was marked by low ceilings and limited natural light”, notes Thulstrup.

The owner’s acquisition of the attic space above their apartment welcomed a heroic double height living area with exposed rafters that form a sculptural connection between the two levels. “The key architectural intervention”, Thulstrup explains, was to “intercept the pitch roof structure, extend the kitchen space and add a roof terrace that is exposed to (sun) light from morning to evening. These newly established volumes allowed all interventions to celebrate existing features, and to simultaneously inject a sense of time.”

To enhance the new sense of height, the building’s original arched windows at the centre of the living space were elongated. For further impact and more room for natural light, walls were adapted to extend the living space in all directions without any dividers or doors. Additionally, large bi-folding glass doors open off the combined kitchen and dining space to a second terrace which feels like an extension of the room.

“It felt necessary to implement a neutral colour scheme to create volume and enhance all historic features such as the rough timber beams. This paired back approach was able to transform the space into a simple but elegant and warm home. My favourite feature to convey this sense of permanence and belonging is the dining nook with a built-in bench and upholstered cushions in creamy natural leather”, adds Thulstrup.

The open-plan kitchen, featuring Plate—Thulstrup’s latest design for Reform—compliments the dining nook, but does so in unexpected ways. The simplicity of the space enhances the softer qualities of the crafted metal finish and invites the hand-brushed aluminium to work its full potential.

After experiencing Thulstrup’s interior concept for Noma, the client admired the application of natural local materials such as Dinesen Heart Oak planks and Bornholm granite. To honour the value of locality, similar materiality can be found throughout the apartment—not only for floors and walls but also for custom-made furniture pieces that are implemented as architectural elements. These include the built-in sofa bench that runs the length of one wall, an in-built dining bench as well as the 200-kilogram glazed lava stone coffee table.

As an ode to his own design principles, Thulstrup added a spiral staircase made from glass-blasted steel and a custom yellow-pated zinc finish mainly used for industrial purposes. “It’s a striking yet thoughtful sculptural gesture that ties together the two floors. The special finishing interacts with the abundance of light in a way that creates beautiful reflections with dashes of green, pink and blue.” The stairs lead to a reading nook and the new roof terrace with a spectacular view of the city.

Photography by Irina Boersma

See more work by Studio David Thulstrup here and here. 

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