The Audo by Norm Architects

  • DESIGN Norm Architects
  • PHOTOGRAPHY Jonas Bjerre Poulsen
  • - Monica Steffensen
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    Take an exclusive tour through Copenhagen’s latest design destination, The Audo hybrid space, with Norm Architects architect and partner Peter Eland.

    Danish design frontrunners MENU and Norm Architects have lead the way for design collaboration in Copenhagen for the past decade. It was out of this beneficent relationship and MENU’s founding philosophy of collaborative spirit that The Audo was born; a new hybrid space in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn. Facilitating and celebrating human connection and artistic expression, The Audo encompasses a hotel residence, restaurant, cafe, concept store, material library, event facilities and the MENU headquarters. 

    The Audo was conceived by Bjarne Hansen, founder and former CEO of MENU, with a vision to connect kindred spirits of the international art and design community. Together with principal architects Norm Architects and co-founder of Kinfolk magazine Nathan Williams, Hansen foresaw a meeting place to inspire creative collaborations, offer fresh ideas, enriching encounters and knowledge sharing. 

    Taking its name from the Latin ‘Ab Uno Disce Omnes’, meaning ‘from one, learn all’, The Audo amalgamates refined Nordic design, work-life, hospitality and community. Fortunate to be one of the first guests to experience The Audo, we sought a personal tour with Norm Architects architect and partner Peter Eland to learn the intricacies of Copenhagen’s unique design hub.

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    The Audo was founded as a platform for creative work, highlighting the multidisciplinary nature of design. The overall concept focused on redefining how we use design, space and connect with each other, while authentically integrating The Audo partners’ furniture, lighting and accessories. The entire space is a collaboration between brand partners including MENU, DUX, Hansgrohe, DEDAR, Dinesen, Turn, Sahco and Kolon.

    Located in Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district, a former industrial harbour, The Audo building was originally built to house the headquarters of Russian Trading Co. Ltd in 1918. Peter says the area goes by the name of the ‘red village’, characterised by red rendered buildings and formerly populated by containers and shipyards. “This whole development is anchored in its historical context,” Peter explains. “The residential neighbourhood surrounding The Audo is only three and a half years old, but it already feels like an established part of the city.”

    Part of an exciting chapter in Copenhagen’s history, The Audo is a considered evolution for its new district. “There has been a lot of deliberation as to how the area would take shape with restaurants, design shops and now The Audo,” Peter says. “We wanted to explore a new way of designing a hybrid space with a showroom, concept store, restaurant, office spaces, and a boutique hotel that is transparent and flows naturally; offering something new to the neighbourhood and Copenhagen itself.”

    While doing the initial sketches with fellow Norm Architects founding partner Jonas Bjerre Poulsen, Peter says they wanted to create a space that felt open to the public. “The first sketch was to lower the reception and cafe area, to make an internal piazza that would draw the cityscape in, as a gesture to the city,” he says.

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    The Audo Concept

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    The Audo Concept

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    The Audo Concept

    The Audo’s entry is nothing short of grand, featuring an arresting staircase that can be used to create an auditorium in the reception and cafe area. “When first entering The Audo, we wanted to reflect the hard, industrial tone of the area. But as you walk through the building it becomes softer, more domestic until you reach the residence.” Peter says. “This shift works throughout the building horizontally and vertically.”

    The heritage restrictions only applied to the building’s facade, so Norm Architects were able to open the building up, while introducing larger, lowered windows. “We tried to open the building up, but at the same time, create these different zones,” Peter affirms.

    “Every time you turn a corner there’s a new cosy area you can sit, but you always have this visual connection to people; wherever you are, except for when you’re in the hotel suites, it’s really about seeing people interacting,” Peter says. The cafe and reception area lets guests enjoy a coffee or breakfast while seated among the artfully curated objects from Livrest, Lineaire, MENU, and artists Benjamin Ewing, Sofia Tufvasson, where as Peter says, guests can work in an immersive, fluid environment.

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    The Audo Concept

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    The Audo Concept

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    The Audo material library

    The Audo Concept space is a beautiful compilation of premium Nordic brands, where one can peruse everything from stationary to cushions and crockery. Designed as a living gallery, the curated selection of brands, products and art pieces spans both established and emerging creative work that exude quality, innovation and craftsmanship. “The concept store is constantly changing, curated with new and old objects. We change the furniture according to the seasons and the artist exhibiting,” Peter says. 

    The Audo Concept collaborators include Aiayu, APPLETREES, Kinfolk, August Sandgren, Lineaire, Livrest, OFR. Copenhagen/110, SWY Studio and Telka Fabrics. All of these collaborators can be experienced throughout the whole house, in addition to the custom art pieces by artist Benjamin Ewing, a multidisciplinary artist based in Portland, Oregon. 

    Above the staircase is The Audo’s material library; a source of inspiration for guests, architects and designers. As the little black book of The Audo’s brand partners, the material library includes a collection of fabrics, Sørensen leather, Dinesen timber and stone samples, in addition to Axor bathroom fixtures and St. Leo paint swatches. “The idea is for designers, writers or anyone who is interested in architecture and design can use the material library space as a reference and to work,” Peter explains. Close by is the soon-to-open restaurant space and the courtyard; a setting for events, meetings and hangouts.

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    The Audo material library

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    The Audo restaurant

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    The Audo restaurant

    The Audo Residence comprises of 10 unique guest rooms, varying in size and each designed with a unique colour story. As an extension of the experiential showroom, no two suites are the same and reminiscent of a collector’s home.

    Each suite is designed with specific wall colours, furniture arrangements, soft furnishings, bathroom finishes and hand-picked art pieces. Original timber beams, rich wall plaster colours and tactile finishes characterise these design sanctuaries, ranging from terracotta to sand; all closely connected to the Danish landscape. 

    “Our use of colour has slowly increased, but as we’ve shown through The Audo Residence, we always take inspiration from natural materials, sticking to an earthy, warm palette,” Peter outlines. With exception to the cathedral-like penthouse, the spacious suites are marked by wooden box panelling that extend from the Dinesen boards – an outstanding exhibit of craftsmanship – concealing the bathroom.

    A testimony to the future of design, The Audo is embedded in the true power of authenticity, community and creative collaboration through its revered Danish design patrons, Norm Architects, MENU and Kinfolk.

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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    The Audo Residence

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