SeARCH won an invited competition to design a new highly sustainable conference and activity centre 40 kilometers north of Copenhagen for Novo Nordisk, the largest insulin producer worldwide. An extension to Favrholm, a 14th century farm and protected monument, the corporate conference center balances an extreme intervention with the restoration of the original building. The design expresses the campus’ new identity, bridging the past and the future—an important gesture for an 89-year-old company dedicated to research and innovation.
The goal was to transform the estate into a training complex that would engage both the mind and body and foster reflection as well as networking. The brief called for a conference center with meeting, dining, and fitness spaces, as well as guest quarters. The serenity of the location at the lake’s edge with its grassy hills is already balm to the soul.
The atmosphere of the farmhouse was maintained and kept raw in order to reflect the building’s original function. As much of the original structure was kept and thin chalk stucco (instead of an opaque version) was used to emphasize the old masonry's texture. Referencing barns that once occupied the site, SeARCH employed wood slats, though applied vertically as a rain screen that extends up the roofline. While respecting the old farmhouse's scale, geometry, and organization, the extension's modern lines and material treatment emphasize a friendly tension between new and old.
In deference to the Apis bull, logo of Novo Nordisk and bull from which the first insulin was developed, meeting rooms have been given the shape of a cow’s ear, all slightly different in shape, size and material, but still clearly related. These are situated into the embankments, viewing the vast landscape and the foraging birds around the lake. The newly built auditorium on the other hand restores the original, rectangular design of the courtyard of the farmhouse and is inspired by the barns that once stood there.
In tune with SeARCH's philosophy of strengthening rather than dominating the landscape, the 18,000-square-foot steel-and-concrete north addition was nestled in the hillside, not only preserving views of the historic building from across the lake, but also maintaining the old farmhouse's dignity and standing as the complex's focal point. The extensive use of glass in the new wing creates a sort of viewing platform for looking out to the water and the teeming bird life there. SeARCH worked closely together with the Heritage Agency of Denmark and with bird protection organizations.
The conference centre is built according to the latest Danish building regulations and exceeds the Dutch EPC standard by 25%. The sole use of environmentally friendly building materials which comply to strict Danish environmental standards was one of the client’s demands from the client.