Copenhagen X Gallery


The Opera on Dokøen has a twin: the new Playhouse on Kvæsthusbroen at the end of Sankt Annæ Plads.

Both institutions are part of the Royal Theater and only the ballet will remain in the old building on Kgs. Nytorv. The two buildings' prominent positions along the water make them distinctive fixed points on each side of the harbor, like Amalienborg Palace.

The Playhouse contains three stages of varying size. The exterior is dominated by a continuous glass-encased top storey with offices and facilities for the actors. The architects chose to pull the building right out into the harbour. Visitors arrive along gently sloping ramps like a promenade with panoramic views of the waterfront.

A sustainable theatre

Thermoactive structures, seawater cooling and demand-controlled ventilation: the Royal Playhouse features numerous technical solutions intended to reduce energy bills and ensure a sustainable profile. The company behind the energy concept applied at the Playhouse is COWI.

Thermoactive structures

Seawater and surplus heating from the large auditoria are used to cool and heat parts of the Playhouse using thermoactive concrete structures. Tubes are embedded in the building's concrete slabs, where they function as both a heating and a cooling system.

In the winter, surplus heat generated by the light and by the audience is stored in the thermoactive structures from which it is released the next day. In the summer, the building is cooled at night so that it will be ready for use the day after.

The thermoactive structures provide a better indoor climate than conventional radiators, as the operating temperature is very close to room temperature. The use of thermoactive structures also makes it possible to use a renewable energy source: seawater.

Seawater cooling

The waterfront location of the Royal Playhouse is utilised in a seawater cooling system with a heat exchanger that alternates between cooling and heating the water pumped into the system from the harbour.

This technology saves the Playhouse 75-80% in energy spent cooling the building merely by using seawater and a heat pump.


The Playhouse employs natural ventilation wherever possible, which means that huge amounts of energy are saved that would otherwise be used to run mechanical ventilation fans. The auditoria have demand-controlled ventilation, which means that only the energy needed to maintain the desired indoor climate quality is used.

EU funding

COWI received DKK 5 million to develop, demonstrate and test the energy concepts applied in the Playhouse as part of a large-scale EU-funded project called ECO-Culture.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014