Johansen Skovsted Arkitekter has breathed new life into a trio of forgotten landmarks along Denmark’s Skjern River. Built in the 1960s, the three Brutalist-style brick pump stations had originally been used to drain the surrounding land of excess water but fell into disuse after the restoration of the Skjern River basin in 2002. Using a subtle yet effective design approach, the architects retained the character of the original pump stations while transforming their interiors into functional exhibition spaces.
Danish marine suppliers Myhrwold and Rasmussen engineered the pump stations in 1966 as rugged and raw structures decorated only by a vertical concrete grooves that allude to the lines of ploughed fields. To give the buildings a more welcoming appearance, Johansen Skovsted Arkitekter added spruce and plywood cladding. The simple wooden extensions soften the building’s machine-like look and will gradually develop a silvery patina over time.
Timber was also introduced in the interior. The original pumps were moved from the ground floor to an underground level as a means to open up space for events and exhibitions. Dining areas and toilets were also added.
“The extensions and the new interior building elements are mainly simple wooden constructions and reiterate the dimensions and rhythm of the original pump stations’ concrete relief,” write the architects. “This creates a direct link between the old structure and the new, while adding a new material and another texture that is pleasing to the touch. With this detail, the cladding and the main structure become one, reducing the complexity of the building, which is reflected in the budget as well as the final expression.”