The Royal Danish Embassy
55 Sloane Street
London SW1X 9SR
United Kingdom

Arne Jacobsen / Dissing + Weitling 1969-1977

Denmark's bold, modern embassy building sits between more traditional mansion housing on Sloane Street in Belgravia, facing onto the gardens of Cadogan Place. It makes a formal accommodation to its surroundings, with its five even bays corresponding to the street's house widths, and its ambassadorial residence above the fourth floor set back to maintain the line of the tops of neighboring houses. These accommodations help the striking, metal-faced building blend remarkably comfortably.

The visible structure of the embassy, and of the residential wing behind, comprises stacks of glazed boxes, cantilevered out from concrete walls. On the ground floor of the front facade this simple geometry in painted metal cladding is complemented by an abstract, geometric concrete mural by the Danish painter and sculptor Ole Schwalbe - a political compromise between Jacobsen's desire for simplicity and the Cadogan Estate's concern to avoid Jacobsen's austerity 'deadening' an area of the street.

Jacobsen's original design had required bronze panels on the exterior, but cost constraints let to a painted alternative. The current green-gray exterior is not Jacobsen's original choice. His original color was chosen to match the sandstone of some of the neighboring buildings, and is still visible on some of the interior walls.

 

Arne Jacobsen, architect and furniture designer, died during the building's design in 1971. The detailed design is by his successors Dissing + Weitling. Ove Arup, the Danish founder of Ove Arup & Partners, worked with Jacobsen on the structural engineering of the building.

Simon Glynn 2004

 


How to visit

The Embassy is on the west side of Sloane Street at Cadogan Place. The staff residences at the rear are accessible from Pavilion Road, one block to the west.

Nearest tube stops are Knightsbridge (head south down Sloane Street) or Sloane Square (hear north up Sloane Street) - a five-minute walk in either case. 

The interior of the Embassy is not normally open to the public, but look out for opportunities in London's annual late-September 'open house' weekend (www.londonopenhouse.org). 

 

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