Ramboll in the 1940s
In the 1940s, Rambøll & Hannemann doubled in size, expanded into the provinces of Denmark and did their first landmark project – The Ferris Wheel – which still stands today.
The Ferris Wheel in Tivoli
Round and round it goes. The Ferris wheel in Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens is still enjoyed by children, loving couples, and everybody wanting to see the surrounding city from above. It was the first steel assignments for Ramboll in 1945 and it has now been turning for 75 years.
It was a challenging construction. The Ferris wheel had to be able to rotate whilst also being spacious and comfortable; it had to withstand transverse forces from the wind without wobbling and remain steady when braking.
Furthermore, a unilateral movable load had to be taken into consideration and a slender design was required for the frame of the wheel so that the construction would not seem ungainly.
Talking about the Ferris wheel in an internal company magazine article, Ramboll co-founder Johan Hanneman said, “Børge Rambøll and I were on board one of the baskets during the test ride for the newly assembled structure. The wheel was going around at full speed when I suddenly realised with dread that the speed was practically twice of what it was supposed to be. The basket swayed dangerously but fortunately the brakes were designed to have maximum efficiency and we all returned safely to the ground after the wheel finally stopped.”
Fortunately, it did not take long to identify the issues that caused the rocky test ride, and the Ferris wheel is still turning today – at an appropriate speed.
Compared to some of the large constructions that Ramboll does today, the Tivoli Ferris wheel was a relatively small project - yet it is a defining project because it clearly illustrates Ramboll’s special technical excellence in steel constructions already in the early years.
Throughout 75 years, steel structures have been a core competence for Ramboll. In 2019, a unanimous jury committee selected Ramboll’s work on K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen (Denmark) as the winner of the prestigious European Steel Award 2019 for steel professionals. The award was given for creative and exceptional use of steel in the rebuilding of this iconic building.
Doubling in size: From one office to two
The company was barely two years old when Ramboll established its first office outside Copenhagen in the city of Aarhus. For a short period of time in the early fifties, the Aarhus office with six employees was bigger than the head office with only five employees.
Back in the forties the two founders formulated what was to become a hallmark for the way the engineering consultancy evolved. The thinking behind expanding into the provinces was that it was important to be “in the field” and “close to one’s clients.”
It was electricity that originally led to the establishment of the Aarhus office. Børge Rambøll had been in contact with what was to become the Midtkraft electricity and heating plant in Aarhus. Rambøll & Hannemann got heavily involved in power plant design in Jutland as the first generation of municipal power plants from the 1920s faced large-scale renovation.
But in the following decades, is was actually public transport that made Rambøll & Hannemann very visible in Jutland. The iconic bus terminal at Gustav Holms Vej in Aarhus with its five arches carry all the signs of great engineering. The building measured 49x74 meters with only one inner wall separating the large space to accommodate 33 buses and the maintenance facilities and staff quarters.
Ramboll co-founder, Johan Hannemann, is said to have sketched the iconic arches for the bus terminal on a napkin at the lunch table. Nevertheless, the depot from 1954 is still a magnificent piece of engineering. At the opening of the terminal, the building got a three-spread cover in Danish trade magazine Ingeniøren (The Engineer). Unfortunately, only three of the five arches are still standing.
Today Ramboll is present in 35 countries with hundreds of offices and project offices. Still in the field and close to our clients.
Explore the next decade
Find out how Ramboll developed in the 1950s