To Catch the Nothern Light

architect Jan Søndergaard
project Jens Bang's Guesthouse
written by Martin Keiding

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In the late 1930s, painter Jens Søndergaard moved into a house in Toftum, and in a letter to his friend, Leo Svane he described “landscapes so wonderfully expansive they were beyond comparison with Thy”.


The artist’s fascination with the special light, the strong sweeping Toftum Bjerge hills and the Limfjord region’s wide open skies inspired a number of distinctive paintings, often done in the same area where the guest house was built.


The house is built into a hilly slope, with a 200-degree panoramic view from east to west over an open, unbuilt dune and meadow area running down towards the coast at Nissum Bredning.

One of the goals was to capture the light from the sky in a continuous spatial sequence in one building, which seen from any direction, would reflect the profile of the hill ridge. The guest area consists of two parts, a concrete slab covered with basalt and a copper shell. The slab serves as the floor, a continuous plane running from the morning terrace in the east to the evening terrace in the west. The shell serves as both façade and roof, closed towards the slope to the south and open towards the north with the walls facing east and west. The roof is punctured by a continuous skylight, which spatially separates the secondary functions in the closed south-facing core from the primary functions in the more open spatial sequence in the other three directions. The bearing construction consist of steel frames, while the roof and outer walls consists of prefabricated wooden coffers dimensioned according to the building’s primary grid.