Osram House, Copenhagen - from industrial building to cultural centre

Originally built as a warehouse for a light bulb manufacturer, Osram House is now an example of how daylight can transform a dark, industrial building into a hub for cultural activities.


Buildings of the past can provide excellent space for today´s needs and ideas. Osram House in Copenhagen shows how. 

Osram House was constructed in 1953 as an office and warehouse. With an unpolished concrete exterior and large interior rooms, the building is a typical example of industrial-era architecture. The municipality of Copenhagen acquired Osram House in 1980 − it was to become a landmark building. Located in Nørrebro, one of the city's most diverse neighbourhoods, Osram House is now a culture and community centre. 

In 2009, Osram House was the scope of a major renovation intended to improve indoor climate, architecture, daylight conditions and energy efficiency. The VELUX Group set out to help the City of Copenhagen transform the building into a structure with minimal resource demands and new utilities.

"One of the visions behind Osram House was to provide room for activities targeting citizens who don’t usually attend cultural institutions, either because they are not used to it or because they simply can’t afford it," says Ole Henriksen, engineer at Copenhagen City Properties, the owners of Osram House.

Henriksen was project leader of the renovation. He adds: "We wanted Osram House to give visitors a sense of openness and accessibility. Everyone should feel welcome."

Judging from the number of users and the range of activities, the mission has been largely accomplished. Theatre groups, kindergartens, private parties and small-time entrepreneurs are among the users filling the big, bright rooms inside Osram House.

The building radiates the openness we intended and attracts some very diverse activities. One of the biggest changes is that we now have activities from 8 in the morning to 10 in the evening.

Birgitte Kortegaard, Executive Project Secretary during the rebuilding

However, getting there required careful considerations. 

"It is a landmark building, which means that the renovation had to preserve the original architecture. We kept the old rafters under the new windows, so users of the house can still get an impression of the original roof construction," says Ole Henriksen.

Osram House also needed a transformation in terms of functionality: "The building is home to a variety of physical activities, so efficient ventilation is crucial in order to keep both building and its visitors healthy," says engineer Ole Henriksen. 

The OSRAM Culture Centre uses automated control system for natural ventilation, guaranteeing adequate air exchange and efficient night cooling. The system monitors all 28 strategically placed VELUX roof windows, as well as the four VELFAC facade windows. Windows open automatically to optimise the indoor climate based on indoor and outdoor temperatures and building use.

Even when the temperature is high, it never feels uncomfortable,"

says dancing instructor Joy Skovgaard.

With more than 20 years of experience, she appreciates the conditions offered to dancers in the Osram House’s great hall: "Sometimes we are 30 people dancing in there − and it still feels nice," she says.

Photos: Torben Eskerod

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