Lundgaard & Tranberg

May 24, 2017 /

Ribe, Denmark

Kannikegården, Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

By Catherine Langer

Kannikegården by Danish architects Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects is situated in the historical Danish city of Ribe. The building is built on a new central city square, designed by Danish landscape architects Schønherr, and located opposite the historically significant town cathedral, Ribe Domkirke. The building houses facilities for the parish council and cathedral staff, as well as a lecture theatre and an exhibition space. It is firmly rooted in the significant local context it settles in - Ribe´s crooked brick buildings and close-knitted medieval city structure - making it a new important historical and architectural landmark.

Kannikegården opposite the city´s famous cathedral, Ribe Domkirke. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

During the excavation work on the site, archaeological remains were found of the cloisters from 1100, believed to be the earliest brick building in Denmark. A preservation order served the ruins right away, and through a donation by Realdania, the ruins were actively integrated into the design of the new building on the site and made visible to the public through the glass-covered ground floor, further underlining the historical significance of Ribe.

Ruins of the first brick building in Denmark were found during the excavation work and are now closely integrated into the building. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

Kannikegården blends into its context of crooked brick buildings. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

Kannikegården´s proximity to nearby houses dictates that the building has to be tapered slightly towards the west, resulting in a characteristic diagonal incision in the roof. The building´s crooked, asymmetrical shape thus reflects on the traditional, organic development of the medieval city, where each new building was carefully adapted to its existing neighbors.

The building adapts to its neighboring buildings, resulting in its asymmetric shape. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

The flat tiles are sewn together along the edge of building. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

Kannikegården has a characteristic brick-clad surface of large granulated, handmade shells with irregular colors, shapes and finishes. During the building process, Lundgård & Tranberg used mock-ups to make decisions and adjust the brick colors on-site, and the shells bear traces of the production process. Along the buildings crooked edges, the tiles are carefully "stitched" together, which gives an impression of a thoughtful execution. The zigzagging sewing rhythm also relates to the meandering change of brick colors seen in the old houses nearby.

Rustic tiles punctured by small window. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

The red hues of the tiles of Kannikegården. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

As a special feature, small square windows are placed unevenly around Kannikegården´s façade. This helps break up the building´s monolithic look and reflects the organic facades found in its close neighbors.

The building´s glass-covered ground floor further enhances its openness, giving a light "floating" expression. Changing between glass windows, rustic concrete and movable planks of coarse, tarred wood, the changing vertical rhythm adds diversity to the building and new, suitable materials to the city square palette. The open ground floor provides the public a generous look inside the building.

Open bottom floor. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

The main staircase of Kannikegården. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

The same twisted oak planks used in the exterior façade are found in the building interior, in the ceiling of the room housing the cloister ruins. A gravel floor surrounds the historical remains, which you can catch a glimpse of from a stepped garden by Schønherr.

While the material principles are deliberately coarse and not too refined in its details, the interior of the building is more sophisticated. An oak staircase leads to the first floor, flanked by steel-clad vertical oak stakes. On the upper floors the building houses comfortable working areas, dimly lit by the small square windows, and a lecture theater.

With the choice of using warm wall- and ceiling colors and oak floors, the interior´s earth-tone colors are inspired by the cathedral frescoes. The inner staircase wall, as well as the ceiling of the lecture room, is painted dark red, while the first floor corridor contrasts with ochre.

Stepped garden, Schønherr Landscape Architects. © Anders Sune Berg 

Ribe city square, Schønherr Landscape Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

The building opens up to a public square by Shønherr, a long-awaited renewal of the area around the cathedral. Schønherr also solved the difficult challenge of mediating the transition between Kannikegården´s sunken leven, the east passage and the town square through carefully placed staircases and steps in the garden behind the building. The irregular tiling pattern in the public square relates to the uneven, asymmetrical building façade of both Kannikegården and buildings around the city square. Along the South side of the square, the elongated building links to the city's medieval procession route with a sluice.

Difficult transitions in levels around the building. Schønherr Landscape Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

Kannikegården at night. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

Kannikegården in context. Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects. © Anders Sune Berg

With Kannikegården, Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects manages to firmly adapt the building to its local historical context while at the same time create architecture that reflect strongly upon its own era.

Facts about Kannikegården

Completed (year):



Lundgaard & Tranberg


Kim Christensen


Ribe Domsogns Menighedsråd


South-West Jutland Museums


Construction and construction management: Oesten Ingeniører og Arkitekter aps

Engineering, plumbing and electricity:

Esbensen Rådgivende Ingeniører A/S

Landscape Architect:

Schønherr A/S

Funding for landscape project:



Anders Sune Berg

Last updated: May 24, 2017

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