Bellevue Theatre is recognised as one of the best examples of Bauhaus-architecture in Denmark and one of the greatest works of Arne Jacobsen.
The roof construction has as one of the only places in the world an electrical moving roof, as it slides to the side and bringing in the warm summer nights. The roof from 1936 is unique even today.
Organic Designs with wavy strokes and the soft outline is seen all over both inside and outside at Bellevue Theatre with the canopy of the façade, the balcony in the auditorium, the chairs, the bar in the foyer and the stairs.
Modernism appeared in Denmark in the 1930s and was known as Functionalism. The architecture and designs of Arne Jacobsen are characteristic for this period, where he was significant in the breakthrough of the Bauhaus-modernism in Denmark.
The Theatre was projected in 1935 and opened in 1936. Arne Jacobsen continued his previous architectural work for Gentofte Borough such as Bella Vista and Bellevue Beach Bath, where also Bellevue Theatre were created in functionalistic style with clean shapes and straight lines.
Danish Design Identity with Arne Jacobsen as a great example. He was a perfectionistic modernist, where the details were important, and he managed to create timeless designs. Arne Jacobsen was part of a period, where there were no previous architectural traditions and therefore he could create new shapes and Constructions.
Outside Bellevue Theatre with its approximately 2.500 square meters it is one of the most distinct examples of a Danish version of the Bauhaus-architecture with the tight white lines and cubistic Construction.
Entrance towards Strandvejen with two circular staircase towers appears as an arched wall with canopies. Arne Jacobsen took inspiration in the beach life on the other side of Strandvejen at Bellevue Beach.
The Roof Construction was Arne Jacobsen’s way of bringing in the freshness of the sea and forest into the theatre from the beautiful nature around and give the opportunity of making the nature be part of the experience of going to the theatre.
Arne Jacobsen spoke with trade magazine Skuespilleren in august 1936:
”In the intermission the roof slides to the side to reveal a deep blue starry sky and a fresh wind from Øresund will in few seconds renew the air and make the audience sense, that they are by the sea and beach.”
A technician explained in the application for the Borough in the spring of 1936:
”The roof is driven by a regular elevator-work with electric motor; which is the same used for electrical end stop and the pushbutton control as with ordinary elevators.”
Detail-orientated was the trademark for Arne Jacobsen in all aspects of the theatre, where he was influencing everything from the shape of the building to the design of textiles, lamps and furniture. This was his motivation during the elaboration of the architecture.
Inside the Bellevue Theatre inspiration from the lines of the waves from Øresund and the warm blue-green nuances in naturel materials is seen all around.
The Stairs swung wooden railing in two colour nuances draws the shapes of the waves inside the building. The organic shapes is seen both from down the stairs and from the top of the stairs.
Cane is seen at the stage wall, the balcony front and at the bar in the foyer. Arne Jacobsen spoke with the trade magazine Skuespilleren in August 1936:
”The balcony towers over the floor as a mighty basket made of cane.”
Bamboo Sticks attach the striped canopy textile, which covers the walls in the auditorium.
Arne Jacobsen spoke with the trade magazine Skuespilleren in august 1936:
”The walls and ceiling is covered with marquee-textile in wide blue and white stripes hung on thick bamboo sticks.”
The difference between cane and bamboo is significant. Bamboo is a rigid grassspecies and hollow inside. Cane is a stalk from the Rotan palm also called rattan and solid inside.
The Seats in the auditorium with its curvy shapes sends our thoughts to the waves of Øresund. This became the beginning of Arne Jacobsen’s use of steam bended plywood, as many of his chairs are being produced with today.
The Lamps drawn by Arne Jacobsen and fabricated by Louis Poulsen. The Bellevue building process had misplaced the power outlet under the roof for the lamps one place and Louis Poulsen had to make an emergency cord extension out of the roof. This method thereafter became modern. Arne Jacobsen drew most of the lamps for his buildings himself.
The Wardrobe hangers were ordered especially for the house through a smith. The story goes, that Arne Jacobsen late discovered that the smith, who fabricated the hangers, had copied them from the Nørrebro Theatre. The hangers originally drawn by Wilhelm Lauritzen, was a competing architect from the same period.
Wilhelm Lauritzen though gave permission that Arne Jacobsen could employ the hangers with the words: ”For You I gladly give the permission.”
To find out that the hangers were not the smith idea was not in Arne Jacobsen taste. Though never changed.
Bellevue Restaurant also inside drawn by Arne Jacobsen had the bar chair be forerunner to three of his later and more well known chairs. The organic shapes of the back plate were seen in Myren and Svanen in 1952. The tall bar chair of steel showed the same underframe construction as the Oxford chair from 1962.
Colour Use at Bellevue theatre is an obvious example on the distinctive movement, which unfolded back in the 1930s. Functionalism was more than white colours. The transition from white exterior to coloured interior.
The colours at the theatre were where possible restored to its original in 2002. The colour coding is though somewhat more subdued and lighter, than the original must have been. The foyer had originally blue green walls and floors, where the wall today is kept white and the floor black/White.
Arne Jacobsen was born in a distinctive Victorian style home in 1902 in Classensgade, Copenhagen. The travel activity started when in his twenties, when he went sailing for New York. He kept true to his Danish traditions within his field even as his career was focused abroad.
Talent for drawing was seen already as a child, where he depicted the nature with significant details. He original wanted to be a visual artist, but his father thought architect was more reasonable.
The Property Developer Asger and Svend Wilhelm Hansen came from a family dynasty as music publishers. They were great businesspeople, but the process was difficult with lots of small changes at the building site and they were running out of time. Arne Jacobsen stayed polite in the whole process with the property developer and building contractor A. Jespersen and Son.
The history of The Bellevue Theatre
1936 – the theatre opens
1936-1940 – varied summer repertoire. In wintertime mostly cinema
1940-1970 – primarily cinema
1978 – Jes Kølpin and Fleming Hertz buys the dilapidated theatre
1979 – the theatre reopens with two small cinemas on the balcony
1990 – the cinemas on the balcony are abolished
2001 – the theatre undergoes renovation
2002 – renovation completed. Arne Jacobsen’s 100th birthday celebration with The White Town by Robert Wilson
The theatre welcomes requests for guided tours. Guided tours are 100 kr. per person and students 75 kr (weekdays minimum 5 persons or 500 kr / weekends minimum 10 people or 1000 kr). Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and booking.
Planned guided tours for summer holiday:
July 8 – 11 am
July 22 – 11 am
August 3 – 11 am
August 5 – 11 am
For summer tours no reservation is needed. Just show up at main entrance at 11 am.
Box office is closed – cash payment only.