Raising the Barr

The best buildings allow their owners to explore a myriad of possibilities within their walls; they draw on the life within to make them iconic. That’s certainly true of the 18th-century warehouse building on Copenhagen’s waterfront that is now home to the restaurant Barr, the new collaboration between pioneering Nordic chefs Thorsten Schmidt and René Redzepi. Formerly the home of Redzepi’s Noma, a restaurant whose influence is hard to overestimate and that remains an international byword for Nordic food innovation, the space has now been overhauled by architecture firm Snøhetta to create a new identity for Barr.

Offering a “formal informality”, the design combines exposed original walls and ceilings with new additions that use raw, natural materials – a concept that reflects the principles of old and new at play in the restaurant’s approach to food. Barr aims to celebrate the ingredients and specialities of the North Sea region – also known as Europe’s beer belt – investigating, reimagining and reinventing classics such as frikadeller meatballs, schnitzel and even UK favourite Marmite.

“Our design had to be sensitive to the building’s architecture, taking care not to damage existing walls and ceilings,” explains Peter Girgis, senior interior architect at Snøhetta. “While the floor was restored the walls and beams were left as is, as a memory of what was.” Despite the restaurant’s wider regional remit, its roots are fully recognised in the interior, which is packed with locally sourced furniture and fittings made from oak that grows just a few kilometres away. “New furniture and wooden ceiling elements were sourced locally and assembled by carpenter Malte Gormsen,” says Girgis, “while the 108 chair is a classic piece from Finn Juhl, one of the greats of Danish modern design. So the presence of Danishness is there for sure in a direct way and in an inspirational way.”

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