VM Bjerget
Water, space and light. Those are the key elements of the recent architectural boom in Copenhagen. One of the most celebrated architects at present is the Dane, Bjarke Ingels, who has made the much awarded apartment buildings VM-Bjerget and 8tallet. Also international architects such as Sir Norman Foster, Jean Nouvel, Henning Larsen and Daniel Libeskind have left their mark on the Danish capital in recent years.
Friday, April 19, 2013

As the world’s oldest monarchy, Denmark’s long history is depicted in several buildings around the Danish capital. The beautiful old stock exchange Børsen, (which dates back to 1625 and is one of the oldest buildings in Copenhagen) the Danish parliament Christiansborg and the Queen’s residence Amalienborg Palace are just three examples of the historic architecture which Copenhagen contains.

At the same time the city is filled with contemporary architecture of high quality. The last few years architecture in Copenhagen have witnessed an increasing interest from around the world – especially because of the city’s proactive approach to urban development.

The trend in contemporary Danish architecture is the emergence of a new generation of successful young practices, inspired more by international trends than by the modernist tradition in Scandinavia. The generation is spearheaded by Bjarke Ingels whose firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) founded in 2006 has made an unusually rapid transition into a well-established firm. BIG's major international breakthrough came in 2009 when the firm won six international competitions and gained several large commissions

In the following, you will get a quick overview of the areas in Copenhagen where you can experience great modern architecture with contributions both by leading international architects and new, successful Danish ones.


On the island of Amager lies an area of intense architectural activity. Ørestad is more than the latest phase of urban planning - it is a new city.

Bella Hotel in Ørestad is a two tower hotel with a total number of 814 rooms, designed by architects 3XNielsen. The hotel is an integrated part of Bella Center with no less than 32 new conference rooms, three restaurants, a big ballroom and two executive conference rooms on the 23th floor in connection with the Sky Bar.

In Ørestad you will also find Denmark’s most controversial new building, DR Byen, the new home of national Danish broadcasting and DR Radio Concert Hall designed by Franch architect Jean Novel. In January 2012 the concert hall was named as one of the ten Greatest halls of the new millennium by the renowned British magazine Gramophone.

Another building that has garnered international acclaim is only a 3-minute walk from the ITU. Tietgenkollegiet is more than just a hall of residence for students of Copenhagen University – it is an architectural study in communal living space, and as such was nominated for the 2007 Mies van der Rohe Award.

Copenhagen Port

In 2000 a major redevelopment plan for the Copenhagen Ports area was launched. Industry had largely disappeared from the three main port areas, so the Copenhagen authorities welcomed a scheme that promised to inject new life into the area with open arms. Results of urban regeneration projects can already be seen in the new waterfront apartments, cycling and pedestrian bridges and, most spectacularly of all, new buildings for art and culture.

A precursor to the waterfront redevelopment programme is the extension to the 15th century Royal Library. Known as The Black Diamond, it has already become an icon of the new, progressive Copenhagen, designed by the Danish architecture firm Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen.
Perhaps the most prominent building to have been built in the Copenhagen Ports area is the new Opera. Henning Larsen’s design is an uncompromising symbol of confidence and power.
As well as a hi-tech auditorium that seats 1400 people and subterranean rehearsal room cum recording studio 50m below sea-level, the opera house’s foyer plays host to some exquisite artwork including four bronze reliefs by Per Kirkeby and three light sculptures by Olafur Eliasson.
On the opposite bank of the same canal The Danish Royal Theatre, which has been sharing the Royal Theatre building on Kongens Nytorv with The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet, has moved into the Royal Danish Playhouse, which opened in February 2008, designed by Boje Lundgaard and Lene Tranberg.

Copenhagen and environs

The Danish Jewish Museum opened in 2004 as an international celebration of Danish-Jewish history. Daniel Libskind restyled the interior of the 17th Century former Royal Boathouse using forms abstracted from the Hebrew word ‘Mitzvah’ which means ‘good deed’ or ‘deeply felt reaction.’ This highly conceptual motif can be experienced in the tilted surfaces, slashed glazing and floor plan of the corridor that leads visitors through the exhibition

Although Arne Jakobsen’s Radisson SAS Royal Hotel was completed in 1960, it deserves to take its place in any consideration of new architecture in the Øresund region simply because Jakobsen is considered to be the godfather of Danish design. Any modern architectural pilgrimage to Copenhagen should include a visit to room 606, which is maintained as a shrine to its designer, featuring the original furniture and fittings. And in the hotel restaurant Alberto K on the 20th floor you will still be dining with Jakobsen’s space-age cutlery, which was used in the film ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey.’

It might come as a surprise to learn that one of the largest attractions in Denmark, visited by over 1.2 million guests every year, is Copenhagen Zoo. The design by English hi-tech architect Sir Norman Foster restores the visual relationship between the zoo and Frederiksberg Park as well as providing the elephants themselves with a stimulating environment.

A visit to the Danish Architecture Centre on Strandgade is a must for anybody interested in the future of architecture and urban planning. DAC’s mission is to discover and disseminate innovative work in architecture and construction that will have an impact on global planning.

New Projects

The biggest new upcoming architecture projects in Denmark is the new Denmark’s Aquarium The Blue Planet designed by the Danish architects 3XN that will open in 2013. Overlooking the Øresund the building will connect land and sea, drawing both the great outdoors and visitors inside. Inspired by the shape of water in endless motion and shaped as a great whirlpool it will be situated in the borderland between the worlds of Poseidon and Zeus. The walls and roofs will form a single continuous flow and be clad in a way that emphasizes the wavy outline of the building thereby telling a story of this union. The first and longest of the whirlpools arms will follow the shape of the landscape and the building, moving into the land. The round room will be a center of navigation in the aquarium and this is where visitors will choose which river, lake or ocean to explore.

In Helsingør the new Danish Maritime Museum will open in 2013. The current Danish Maritime Museum was established in 1915 and is located at Kronborg Castle in Elsinore. The museum will be leaving these premises when it moves to the new Danish Maritime Museum. Kronborg Castle plans to use the vacated areas for cultural and conference facilities.

The building is designed by BIG Bjarke Ingels Group and will have a total area of 7,600 m2. It will be placed underground surrounding Dock 1 of the old Elsinore Shipyard. Access to the building will be from bridges suspended above the dock space. The floor in the exhibition area will be of a slightly downward slope so that visitors moving around in the house at the same time descend in a spiral. The house will be fully accessible for disabled people.

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