"Knold & Tot"
- The story of two twin houses recreated by three brothers
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By: Thorsten Overgaard
For almost a year bypassers could only guess what was going on behind the huge scaffold that covered the twin buildings Knold & Tot.
We can now disclose, even in details, that what went on was a careful renovation deploying the most honorable handcraft principles in each detail of the project. One might even call it a reconstruction as the work in fact had as an aim that the two buildings should come back to their original form and look. And even with some details that the architect planned, but was never - for economical reasons or whatever - fulfilled back in 1909. So now they are, more original than ever.
The two buildings were built in 1909 as private family houses for the two bricklayer-brothers Severinsen and was bought in 1998 and 2001 by the three brothers Boyter of the toilet seat manufacturer Pressalit Group - with the purpose to house the executive division and meeting facilities in the center of Aarhus, Denmark. The Pressalit factory lies a 20 minute drive outside Aarhus why they wanted a central location in Denmark's second-largest town, Aarhus.
That is turned into a costly effort is no secret, Dan Boyter tells; "But there were probably no other way of doing it if the company and the three brothers were to take our responsibility of two jewels of the Aarhus history seriously. And in doing so we at the same time wanted to have a headquarter in Aarhus that exemplifies the cores values of design and quality that has become the trademark of Pressalit Group."
ACOSY CELLAR - The inspiration to have a plank table in the kitchen came from France where Dan Boyter lived for a few years: "There's always space for an extra guest at a plank table. It's cozy and friendly."
The brothers Boyter own and run the Pressalit Group - a company of 1954 employing 450 people and known for quality products and awarded several times for their social responsibility in society. The cores values of their company is easily recognized in the two 'reconstructed' buildings.
The renovation turned out to include a new foundation under one of the buildings. Likewise, some of the buildings outer walls were rebuilt because the existing ones had turned unequal. All outer walls has been treated with hydraulic mortar that doesn't contain cement, and the timbering has been reconstructed those places where it throughout time had been cancelled. Oh well, and then there was the roof that had to be reestablished completely with new timber which - for sake of the historic correctness - was assembled without screws, but with small pieces of wood as in the old days.
”That's how it is with old houses," says Dan Boyter. "Every time you start something, something unexpected always surface."
Århus City awarded the buildings in 2007 for the stellar renovation.
ORIGINAL - All details, including the colors, has been recreated after the original drawings from 1909 by architect A. Hoegh-Hansen. The outer wall painting is silicate painting that reminds of calcite painting and change colors in misty and rainy weather. The window glass is handmade cylindric glass made in France.
MEETING ROOM - Architecture of 1090 meets modern lounge architecture and office furniture. Here's the conference room on the 1st floor.
WELCOME - The entrance of Tot, the smallest of the two buildings.
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY - "We take good care of the ones who take good care of the company" is an old saying in the Pressalit company. Here exemplified with orchidaceous and Bang & Olufsen stereo in the offices.
RE-CREATED - The decorations and spires of the house ends has been recreated, and the same goes for the windows made of canadian douglas. All according to the original drawings of the architect. The tiles are handmade wing-tiles created for this purpose.
EXECUTIVE DIVISION - CEO Dan Boyter by the desk in his office in the Tot building.
WARDROBE - Detail from the small wardrobe in the basement.
SOLID - The wooden fence of oak that frame surrounds the garden (which by the way has evening light built in) has probably never existed before; but was part of the architects original creation.
STERLING - The oak three by the stairs has been assembled by classic methods without the use of screws. Notice the funny sitting plate which has it's renaissance with today's strict smoking policy of no smoking indoor.
MOSAIC - To walk on.
RE-CONSTRUCTION - The two balconies on the back side of the buildings has also been re-constructed based on the original drawings of the architect: When Pressalit Group took over the buildings, one was missing and the other had been replaced by a balcony in concrete.
- Text and photo: Thorsten Overgaard
May 5, 2009
The "Knold & Tot" twin houses from 1909 at Dalgas Avenue in Aarhus, Denmark.
This is a reprint of the article in JP Århus Business magazine of June 2008.
["Knold & Tot" is the Danish translation of "Katzenjammer Kids," a comic series created by the american Rudolph Dirks]
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator.
Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.