Posted Oct 3 2017 | By Mark Fineberg

Copenhagen study tour: classic buildings, classic cakes

…or Utzon, marzipan, Jacobsen, cinnamon and brick!

Danish lagkage is a multi-layered stacked sheets of cake, interleafed with whipped cream, buttercreams and mousse. Our 20th century classic buildings and cakes excursion was a similarly rich, multi-layer of seminal architectural icons. Starting with Arne Jacobsen's Rødovre town hall and library – the epitome of cool – founding the underlayer, Peder Vilhelm Jensen-Klint’s heavenly Grundtvig's Church formed the mid-layer, crowned by Jørn Utzon's profound Bagsværd Church, all interspersed by confectionary stops and topped by a high tea at the sumptuous Conditori La Glace – the cherry on the icing on the cake.

We hadn’t anticipated accessing the town hall interior, however, their cheerfully cooperative caretaker sneaked us into this exquisitely minimalist Gesamtkunstwerk, with its celebrated suspended cascading stair, bespoke fixtures, fittings and furniture, all executed with utmost precision and veiled by its delicately hand crafted curtain wall (set out on the golden section).

The librarians opposite welcomed us to ‘enjoy their beautiful house’; Jacobsen’s introverted solid-walled counterpoint to the town hall, with its generous sprinklings of landscaped courtyards and ‘starry sky’ ceilings. Much loved by its user-occupants and beautifully maintained.

We decanted to our first sugar-stop at the Lagkagehuset (layer-cake-house) for the first interlayer of cinnamon kanelstang and marzipan kringle. Whilst we were queuing, we were recommended brunsviger, a soft yeast base topped with molten butter and brown sugar, which we had to try, of course.

Jensen-Klint’s expressionist Grundtvig's Church (above) stopped us in our tracks with its six million soaring uncut yellow fair-faced bricks. However, nothing prepared us for the contrast between the banal, almost barn-like, exterior of Utzon's Bagsværd Church (below) and the poetic tranquillity of its interior. The contrast was matched by the tension between its meticulously rationalised top-lit side aisles traversed by its extraordinarily unique concrete shell. Cited by architectural historian Kenneth Frampton as transcending universal technique and specific place form, it is the ultimate rendition of a church in a highly secular age.

All food for thought!