The Works of the Danish Architect Hans Christian Hansen (1901-1978)



Presentation / discussion and Selection



Materials, Materialization and Materiality
Aida Espanyol Vilanova

Files: abstract, poster, full paper ( = extended abstract)

Fragments from proceedings (‘abstract submission’)’:


This project aims at documenting and analyzing the built works by Hans Christian Hansen (HCH 1901-1978) developed under the policies of the Danish Welfare State between the late 1930’s and early 1970’s as a project leader at the office of the City Architect in Copenhagen. The purpose of the project is to provide knowledge of a little known Danish architect and body of work, which is material and tectonic-wise extraordinarily rich, and quite unusual in its geographical, historical and cultural context. Although the mere documentation of HCH’s buildings should be considered a value in itself, it should be especially relevant today since these buildings are now getting to a state that require renovation or even demolition.

The Danish post-war environment characterized by a lack of materials first and the arrival of new industrialized materials later, besides the public and social character of an architecture developed under the policies of the Welfare State in the municipality of Copenhagen is the framework in which HCH designed his works. The hypothesis is that considering these initial conditions HCH´s works display a spatial and formal richness that show an intelligent and innovative use of humble and crude materials and standardized elements -both traditional and new- and original, understood as inventive and genuine joining solutions as well as a progressive, though comprehensive interpretation of the local context.

The project is based on an inductive methodology which takes as point of departure HCH´s built works together with the existing construction drawings and specifications and mostly uses architecture particular tools, as drawing and photography, to look at, analyze and communicate the works.

The analyzes is structured through 3 main chapters -from fragment to whole- corresponding to materials -type and format of the minimum part of the works-, materialization -strategies of putting together tangible content, in relation to materials and elements, and intangible issues, in relation to program, depicted through thematic issues as ornament, composition, bricolage and abstraction- and materiality -one´s experience and sense of materials affected by considerations on weather, time, decay, symbolism, …- All 3 stages will also be approached in relation to the notion of context concerning questions of the immediate context -the built site- and the ultimate context -the cultural milieu-.

The outcome of the project will 1) give to know the works of HCH, a somewhat neglected particular trend in Danish architecture 2), open a window to investigate the Danish Welfare State architecture from a new and more close-up perspective, the built works 3), disclose a way of working and aesthetics that is very contemporary 4) and moreover, strengthen the relation between practice and academy.


Materials, materialization, materiality, tectonics, context, works.