The Royal Danish Playhouse / Skuespilhuset



The Royal Danish Playhouse (Danish: Skuespilhuset) is a theatre building for the Royal Danish Theatre, situated on the harbour front in the Frederiksstaden neighbourhood of central Copenhagen, Denmark. It was created as a purpose-built venue for dramatic theatre, supplementing the theatre’s old venue from 1874 on Kongens Nytorv and the 2004 Copenhagen Opera House, which are used for ballet and opera.

The theatre is designed by the Danish architectural practice Lundgaard & Tranberg and received a RIBA European Award in 2008 for its architecture[1] as well as a Red dot design award for the design of the chairs. It is built in a long, slim, deep-brown brick that was specially developed for the project. The exterior is dominated by a continuous glass-encased top story with offices and nack-stage facilities for the actors. Above the glass band is the dark copper-clad cube of the scene tower.[2]

The glazed foyer facing the water runs along the entire length of the building . It affords panoramic views of the harbour and contains a restaurant and a cafë.

With about 40 per cent of the building projecting over the water, the waterfront promenade pivots around the playhouse, diverting pedestrians onto a raised 150 metre long walkway layered with rustic oak planks placed on Venetian-style crooked columns creating a floating feel.

Frederiksstaden is a district in Copenhagen, Denmark. Constructed during the reign of Frederick V in the second half of the 18th century and it is considered to be one of the most important rococo complexes in Europe.[1]

It was developed to commemorated the 300 years jubillie of the House of Oldenburg ascending to the Danish throne. A. G. Moltke was in charge of the project and Nicolai Eigtved was the main architect.

Frederiksstaden has Amalienborg Palace and Marble Church at its center and together they create an axis that was extended with the creation of the new Copenhagen Opera House in 2005 on the other side of the harbor basin . The district is characterized by straight broad streets in a straight-angled street layout. The streets are lined by bourgeois houses, mansions and palaces.


The building was designed by architect Henning Larsen in close and often problematic cooperation with Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller. Mærsk wanted to ensure that the building would last for many years, wouldn’t look bad after a number of years and wouldn’t be an economic compromise. He personally tested seats and materials, he visited many places in the world to see how Operas were constructed and how the building materials were looking after having been exposed to weather for years. Henning Larsen, on the other hand, was trying to make sure that the original architectural ideas were carried through the construction process, especially concerning the large glass surface front, which became a matter of great controversy and subsequent compromise. [2]

The building itself has an outside surface of Jura Gelb limestone. Canals have been dug to make the Opera look as if it were placed on an island just a bit larger than the building itself. This also meant that bridges were needed, and these bridges were made using very old oak, that was planted in the 19th century for the purpose of growing trees for a new national fleet, after having lost the old fleet to the Royal Navy after their bombardment of Copenhagen in September 1807. The front of the opera was originally meant to have a large glass surface, where you could see the shell of the auditorium from the harbor side. However, as Mærsk put it, glass does not age well, so the front was changed to have a metal grid in front of it.

The foyer floor is Sicilian Perlatino marble. There are three very remarkable lamps in the central part of the foyer, created by the Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. Each lamp consists of a very large number of pieces of glass, which are semipermeable (some light passes, some light reflects) with different permeability from different angles. Per Arnoldi designed the logo for the opera, which is visible in the marble floor just inside the entrance, and Per Kirkeby created four bronze reliefs for the wall to the auditorium, just below the maple wood part. Per Arnoldi also designed the large main curtain for the main stage, which is not only very special, but also impossible to take a picture of. It uses optical tricks to obtain a kind of three-dimensional effect, and the colors are rarely reproduced well on photographs.

The wall of the auditorium towards the foyer, and the wood of the balconies, is maple wood. It was originally the intention to make the maple wood look exactly the same way as the wood from a violin, by using the same technique, but that would have been far too expensive. Instead, they have tried to imitate the color using more traditional dying techniques, and the result is very close (the official homepage says differently, but the guides in the Opera tell this story). Due to the orange color and its form, it is suitably known by locals as the pumpkin.

The ceiling inside the auditorium is made using 105,000 sheets of gold leafs, almost 24 carat (100%). Pure 24 carat (100%) wouldn’t stick well enough.[citation needed]

The floor in the main audience room is smoked oak. The balconies have been designed with holes in a very special pattern, that improve sound quality, as well as LED-based lighting that can be used in a variety of ways.


One Response to “The Royal Danish Playhouse / Skuespilhuset”

  1. 1 Central Copenhagen « Steffan Jones-Hughes

What do you think? Let me know below...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: