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Coppin Dockray mixes contemporary and mid-century in renovation of Jørn Utzon's Ahm House

Posted on 16 February, 2018 by Gavin
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Coppin Dockray mixes contemporary and mid-century in renovation of Jørn Utzon's Ahm House

A modernist house built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon in Hertfordshire, England, has been given a new life with a renovation by architecture studio Coppin Dockray.

Ahm House is the only completed building in the UK by Utzon. It was designed for fellow Dane and friend Povl Ahm, who at the time was part of Ove Arup & Partners and worked with Utzon on the Sydney Opera House.

Exterior of Ahm House by Jørn Utzon renovated by Coppin Dockray

Though the house had been well looked after over the years, 

Several classic mid-century designs were also sourced, including Arne Jacobsen's Egg chairs and Poul Henningsen's PH5 pendant light, along with more recent designs like the Faye Toogood-designed Spade chair.

Staircase of Ahm House by Jørn Utzon renovated by Coppin Dockray

"We deliberately gave the house some breathing room, resisting crowding it with too much furniture," explained Coppin.

"We were not interested in furnishing it in any style, but instead found pieces that were practical, long-lasting and that suitably resonate with the house and its Danish roots," she continued. "We used both new and vintage furniture, made of natural and crafted materials like the house."

Interior of Ahm House by Jørn Utzon renovated by Coppin Dockray

Living rooms are grouped together at the eastern end of the plan, while bedrooms are located towards the western end. There are also additional bedrooms in an extension added by architect by Ulrik Plesner in the 1970s, which frames the northwest corner of the garden.

The layout of this newer section of the house was slightly altered as part of the project. It now contains a playroom for the family's children.

Ahm House by Jørn Utzon renovated by Coppin Dockray

Coppin Dockray previously worked on another midcentury property. Coppin and her husband bought and renovated a house called Ansty Plum, which was built in 1962 by architect David Levitt and featured a studio designed by Alison and Peter Smithson.

It was this project, Coppin explained, that attracted the attention of the Ahm House clients.

Exterior of Ahm House by Jørn Utzon renovated by Coppin Dockray
Photo is by Brotherton Lock

"They were looking for designers experienced in working with post-war buildings," she said.

"They wanted someone who recognised that the landscape, the house and the furniture should be coherent and timeless, and that – most importantly – the house must feel like a home for their growing family."

Photography is by James O Davies, apart from where otherwise stated.


Project credits:

Architect: Coppin Dockray
Drawing: Lydia Hair
Joinery: Kacper Kruglik

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