While satisfying the stringent requirements for a protected monument in Denmark, SeARCH architects has unabashedly reshaped a historic farm 25 miles north of Copenhagen. The Amsterdam-based firm has converted the estate'called Favrholm, or 'beautiful island''into a corporate conference center for global health-care company Novo Nordisk, balancing an extreme intervention with restoration work on the original building. The design asserts the property's new identity, bridging the past and the future'an important gesture for an 89-year-old company dedicated to research and innovation.
The site's history is long and varied, dating back to 1364 when it was pledged to Danish king Valdemar Atterdag. For centuries, the property on the outskirts of the small city of Hillerød belonged to the throne (and was lent to vassals for farming and then used for hunting) before becoming a stud farm and, later, a research farm in 1917. The whitewashed brick building with a thatched roof that stands today was built in 1806 and declared a national landmark in 1964. In the 1980s and '90s it housed refugees. And in 1993, it was purchased by Novo Nordisk to expand its Hillerød campus, which includes a production facility and offices across Favrholm Lake. Novo Nordisk, the world's largest insulin producer and a company with a rich history itself, appreciated the significance of the agricultural connection because of its own beginnings rooted in the use of porcine and bovine pancreases for synthesizing its principal pharmaceutical product.