A charming little outdoor atrium space welcomes me as I approach the single-family house I’ve come to see. Weeds shoot up from a house wall and grass grows wild between the tiles in front of the entrance. The kind real estate agent asks me to put blue plastic covers on the shoes, even though both the brown square tiles in the windshield and the whole place look quite dusty. An earthy smell indicates that the house has been empty for a long time. The white paint on the brick walls has sporadically peeled off, the black window frames are worn, and two old floor mats testify that it has been extensively used but is now in decay.
The house, located at the end of Rensdyrvej on a hill in Højbjerg in the outskirts of Aarhus, was designed and built in 1957 by the architects Friis & Moltke. In the 1950s and 60s they became known for creating affordable and beautiful single-family houses for families with ordinary incomes. This house was built for a teacher Mr. Blichfeldt Jensen, who ten years later expanded it with extra living rooms, a windbreak, and a garage according to drawings by the same architects.
Architecturally, the house is made with white-painted bricks, a slightly sloping roof with roofing felt and black wooden window bands. Inside, there is spatial simplicity and functionality. Well-thought-out, well-proportioned rooms and windows are purposefully placed in relation to the view and light. A house that is both large but also small and adapted to human proportions at the same time. A house where colors are used creatively and effectively in several places to evoke inspiration and joy.
From the hard brown tiles in the windbreak, a soft firm carpet in turquoise color on the seven steps leads me further up into the house. Here are three small rooms in a row, a small bathroom with tub and a couple of living rooms. Through a glass wall in the hallway the inspiring kitchen appears with petroleum blue cupboards and letterbox red drawers with flimsy and simple metal handles. The wooden kitchen table is painted black, while the ceramic tiles on the wall are white, shiny, and smooth.
In several ways, the kitchen exudes functionality. A meticulous pull-out plate in the kitchen table seems to just have room for one lucky plate. As I pull the solid wooden panel out, I clearly see and feel the decades-old joints. A waste chute with a decorative black and red wooden lid placed directly in the kitchen table can also be opened silently without any problems. And through a small square kitchen limb placed centrally in the built-in kitchen cupboard wall I see directly into the next room.
Fixed interiors often belonged to Friis & Moltke’s single-family houses, just as there were specially designed details. The house therefore also still has a couple of sofas with brown cushions built into a living room. In another room, there are built-in shelves. The living room’s fireplace is designed for the house. A specially designed green-blue wooden sliding door with a vertical, light brown, strong wooden handle is also located between a couple of rooms. Otherwise, the interior is characterized by slatted ceilings and brown beech parquet floors.
The golden warm light streaming onto the white wall and the sound of the plastic-covered shoes when I walk on the parquet floor in the living room create a dreamlike atmosphere. It is enhanced by the large window with slim black window frames, which frames the garden’s lazy, dark green plants like if it were a painting. As well the bright orange wall near the exit gives the impression that the house is more than just the mere construction.
Back in the windward again, I see a younger couple with expectant faces approach with a sales brochure in hand. Perhaps, or hopefully, they will also spot the architectural merits hidden around this unique one-family house.