Copenhagen Gallery

The Blue Planet

In 2013, Denmark's Aquarium will swap its old building in Charlottenlund for a spiral discovery centre at Kastrup Harbour.

Whether approaching by land, sea or air you will not fail to see the Blue Planet - Denmark's new aquarium. With its spectacular design and location on top of the Panoramic Hill at Kastrup Yacht Harbour, the building has the potential to become a landmark for Copenhagen after its planned completion in 2013.

Run-down aquarium

The old Denmark Aquarium in Charlottenlund opened in 1939, and in spite of several extensions, over the course of time the old facilities have become run-down and outdated. Moreover, further expansion is not an option, and it was therefore a long-held wish to move the activities of the aquarium to a completely new building.

Connection to the water

The new aquarium is surrounded by water on all sides. Sitting on the edge of the Øresund sound the building will be bounded by a reflection pond which visitors will have to cross to enter the aquarium.

With the new aquarium, the architects of 3XN want to give visitors an experience of embarking on an underwater journey. That is why the building takes the shape of a giant swirl - a "maelstrom" sucking visitors into its depths.

Under the surface of the sea

Once inside you enter the eye of the maelstrom, the circular lobby, which is the centre of the exhibitions and activities in the aquarium. And here you are literally under water. Daylight pours through a skylight and down through a tank where it is refracted, creating a flickering effect in the room like spots of light dancing on the walls and the floor.

Rotating around the centre

Five "arms" project from the centre. They house the various exhibitions with their abundance of exotic marine animals living in cold, warm, salt and fresh water environments. The exhibition spaces are designed as a series of dark corridors along which the tanks stand out as luminous elements. What's more, efforts are being made to set up a tropical rainforest and a Faroese bird cliff.

As all exhibitions are accessed from the lobby, visitors can plan their own route around The Blue Planet after looking at the short presentations of the individual exhibitions displayed here. Furthermore, the form of the aquarium offers the practical advantage of facilitating future expansion, should the need arise.

Complicated geometrical design

The complicated geometrical design of The Blue Planet made it a difficult job to do the detailed design of the building. The building will be constructed in a steel frame and clad in uniformly sized sheets of aluminium. In this way The Blue Planet can achieve a unique and organic look without blowing the budget.

Optimised energy consumption

With a floor space of 9,000 sq. m. and technical systems running round the clock, the Blue Planet will not be a beacon of sustainability. Nevertheless the engineers have devised solutions to substantially cut energy consumption, for instance by using seawater cooling, which is estimated to reduce energy consumption for cooling by 80%. In addition, the building will be insulated to a high standard and fitted with low-energy glazing.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 / By Kasper Egeberg

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014