Fewer and fewer automobiles are being preserved and passed down. While the inventory of registered 50+ classic cars grows steadily, the number of younger classic cars is shrinking. The degree to which car culture has been impacted over the past 30 years by technological progress, production methods, and design practices is highlighted by the Classic Car House in Copenhagen. The new theme museum was designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg with an eye toward the golden era of automotive design.
The location, in the suburb of Lyngby, is already well established by the presence of Frilandsmuseet (the Open Air Museum), which belongs to Nationalmuseet (the National Museum). Set directly opposite, and lying along an architecturalhistorical axis that crosses the street known as Kongevejen (Royal Road), the Classic Car House was inaugurated in August of 2023. The new museum is housed in two old buildings, COPENHAGEN CLHAASPSUILCT CEAPREC H UONUOSE the three-sided Virumgård of 1771, and the Agricultural Museum of 1916. Emerging here in the late 19th century was a cultural milieu that included an agricultural school, a plant breeding facility, a folk school, and finally, in 1901, the Frilandsmuseet. In existence up to the present are the Frilandsmuseet, the three sided courtyard building, and the Agricultural Museum. The two latter structures remained disused for years before the municipality of Lyngby sold them, together with the surrounding terrain, to K.W. Bruun & Co, earmarking them for publicly oriented functions. K.W. Bruun is one of the largest auto importers in Scandinavia. The company’s centurylong history culminates now with the Classic Car House. Distributed across several buildings, the complex allows K.W. Bruun to display its major collection of classic cars, but also includes a car hotel, a repair workshop, a restaurant, and a car dealership.
The two existing buildings have been supplemented by four new structures. These are grouped around a small park, onto which all of them open. The main building, with the exhibition area, is accommodated in the former Agricultural Museum. The museum was taken over in a rather obstructed state, so the architects opened up the spaces again, establishing central atria designed to link the exhibition areas in the ground floor and the first upper level. The attic story serves as a clubhouse for automobile aficionados; clad in wood, it is abundantly illuminated by 14 large dormer windows.
The exhibition area extends into a kind of side wing, a glazed passageway known as Karl‘s House. Special requests on the part of the client that might have taxed the creativity of many architects – along with the adoption of the visual appearance of the earlier car dealership of K.W. Bruun in Copenhagen’s downtown Østerport neighborhood – were fulfilled in imaginative ways. Lundgaard & Tranberg have set the old display area, with its garage aesthetic, into the façade almost like a stage set.
From here, visitors enter the large hall with the car hotel. The building consists of six elements whose six gables are staggered backward in a rhythmic composition, causing the building to appear smaller optically, and better adapted to the proportions of the larger ensemble. Here, the automobiles – condemned to remain stationary in the museum – can be driven around. While the exhibition presents showpieces, the car hotel provides ideal storage conditions for the vintage models of automotive enthusiasts. The cars are retrieved here by their owners, dropped off again later, and serviced in the workshops. Accordingly, the atmosphere here is more dynamic.
The other functions as well, along with the buildings for the restaurant and car dealership, contribute to the lively milieu. Automobiles need to be able to enter and exit everywhere, hence a special emphasis was put on the flexibility and rapid convertibility of event spaces.
Beetles and carriages
The history of the automobile is brief, and is narrated by Kvorning Design with reference to design specialties. There are both vintage and recent cars, sports cars, racing cars, Beetles, Hollywood beauties for cineastes, but also popular and more economical models for everyday use. And there is the world’s first automobile, the Benz Motorwagen, a mixture of horsedrawn carriage, bicycle, and automobile, a German creation that reached a maximum velocity of 16 kilometres per hour. The brief, snappy exhibition texts emphasize anecdotes, product longevity, engineering work, and competition between individual car brands. The Classic Car House pays homage to 20th-century automobile design and its striving for perfection and distinctiveness. In light of current tendencies toward duplication and standardization, it is a relief to immerse oneself in the exquisite aesthetic of earlier automobiles. But the new buildings avoid drowning everything in nostalgia. With its modernist history and new architecture, the Classic Car House extends the premodern Open Air Museum, carrying us into the present.
1 x COMBILIFT 552 with 9 grid modules (9 parking spaces in width) – altogether 17 parking spaces: platform loads of 2 t, platform width 250 cm, max. vehicle height, upper level, 180 cm, max. vehicle height, lower level, 190 cm, automatic sliding doors with aluminum frames for on-site glass panels
2 x COMBILIFT 552 with 7 grid modules – altogether 26 parking spaces: platform loads 2 t, platform width 250 cm, max. vehicle height, upper level, 180 cm, max. vehicle height, lower level, 1 x 190 cm and 1 x 180 cm, automatic sliding doors with aluminum frames for on-site glass panels
1 x turntable 506: load capacity 3 t, platform diameter 4.4 m, aluminum sheet surfacing, underfloor drive, continuous operation