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10 Rad, Innovative Danish Buildings Not by Bjarke Ingels

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If you only read one news item about Danish architecture on any given day, chances are it's going to include (if not star) the prolific architectural hotshot and crowd favorite known as Bjarke Ingels. His firm, BIG, seemingly dominates the Danish architectural landscape at home (from Lego museums to zootopias) and abroad. There's a lot to celebrate about the architectural it-boy, but it's not like he's the only architectural mastermind the country, a veritable hotbed of innovative built design, has to offer. Here now, a look at the recent work in Denmark by prominent local designers that are, um, not named Bjarke.

Built Projects:

Photos by Mikkel Frost via JDS Architects

↑ THE ICEBERG: Designed to inject vitality into a growing harbor city, The Iceberg provides 200 residential units on the Aarhus waterfront without creating an impermeable barrier between the urban and maritime environments. With the creation of eleven unique peaks and corresponding canyons, JDS Architects was able to bypass zoning laws. As a compromise, the peaks are allowed to rise above zoning height maximums at their fullest points, while creating lower points to offset the overage. These low canyons allow light and views into the city behind the complex. The design aims to resemble bright shards of iceberg that have splintered from their source, drifted down from the north, and continue to, you know, radiate their internal moonlight over the harbor. Or something.

Photos by Dissing+Weitling via Danish Architecture Center

↑ CYKELSLANGEN: This pedestrian and bike ramp traverses one of Copenhagen's many canals over the existing Bryggebro Bridge. Dissing and Weitling Architecture's Bicycle Snake, or Cykelslangen in Danish, creates an undulating route with an elevated view for the city's many cyclists. Copenhagen is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world, and projects like this perform an important safety function in separating cyclists from the busy street-level traffic below. Another notable feature of the Bicycle Snake is that instead of employing stairs like other pedestrian bridges, its gradual slope toward on/off ramps makes for uninterrupted pedaling.

Photos by Adam Mørk via Danish Architecture Center

↑ THE BLUE PLANET: 3XN is the second-most prominent Danish architectural outfit, just behind Bjarke Ingels Group. The Blue Planet is a new building for the Danish national aquarium, and its plan is reminiscent of a whirlpool. Staying with the water theme, the aluminum cladding is intended to reflect the color and movement of the natural and manmade water elements in close proximity to the aquarium's site. The interior features fresh and saltwater habitats with dynamic observation areas. At no point does the water theme relent, though maybe that's the point of a a building that looks like a built, underwater tangle in a twirling sea creature's arms.

Photos via Henning Larsen Architects

↑ MOESGAARD MUSEUM: The Moesgaard Museum Extension by Henning Larsen Architects is perched on a sloped bayside hill in Aarhus and tightly hugs the curves of its pristine site. The interactions between structure and landscape inspire some rather neato architectural explorations, including a green terraced roof that seems to apologize for disturbing its natural surroundings by blending right back in. It is fitting for a largely regional archaeological and ethnographical museum that the organization's new home respects not just the ancient objects that were unearthed there, but also the land itself.

Photos by Adam Mørk via E-Architect

↑ THE CRYSTAL: Another glassy experiment, The Crystal in Copenhagen by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects was constructed as an additional facility for the financial services company Nykredit. Diving lines and sharp geometry are its key features, with a diagonal trajectory that attempts to alternately shield and accentuate neighboring structure. And bonus: its unusual connection with the ground-level plaza creates uncommon public space interactions.


↑ LA TOUR: 3XN strikes again. The firm's design for La Tour, a residential tower in Aarhus, features a semicircular, vertically-spiraling structure housing 300 apartments, each with a distinct exterior expression. The building's façade is faceted, curved, and staggered, the end result of which carves out an airy balcony and relative privacy for each full-height windowed unit. In an urban context, the short end of the spiral is placed on the site's city-facing edge and retains the surrounding lower-rise quality, while the tower's tall end unfurls toward the site's interior as it swells to its full 31 stories. The shape of the building visually frames a nearby historic water tower and aims to minimize obstruction to the city's view of this beloved landmark.

Renderings via Arch Daily

↑ PARK 'N' PLAY: Aside from the vaguely-tribal design of its permeable skin cladding, this parking garage proposed for Copenhagen otherwise masters the art of architectural camouflage. JAJA architects envisions this green open-air structure with varied large and small garden areas dotting its exterior surfaces. These grassy terraces will be open to the public, adding a secondary civic function to a building type that is typically (though not always) singularly utilitarian. Nestled amongst its harbor district's industrial brick buildings, the project will be built in concrete of a similar hue to help it disappear into its surroundings.

↑ HERNINGSHOLM VOCATIONAL SCHOOL: One of several education-sector buildings on this list, Herningsholm Vocational School by C.F. Møller Architects will be built on an existing school campus. The theory behind this proposal is that the built environment can greatly influence the ways in which students absorb information, so the design includes lots of flexible indoor and outdoor meeting spaces that can suit all types of lessons, in addition to the traditional classrooms one would expect of a school. The entire spectrum of learning habitats is represented here, from private-study nooks to a large communal atrium around which the other spaces are arranged.

↑ KRABBESHOLM SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN: The proposed new building for the Krabbesholm School of Art & Design in Skive is also required to fit into the visual language of its own existing campus, which consists of both historical and contemporary buildings. Tham & Videgård Architects plan to make use of an existing structure's footprint, while letting in sunlight with clever new window and door openings and long arched ceilings. Though the project has both open-air and covered portions above a unified rectangular foundation, all spaces also share similar design elements that produce aesthetic cohesion between outdoor, sheltered, and indoor areas.

↑ TINGBERJ CULTURE HOUSE: Designed as a complement to the Tingbjerg School and surrounding low-rise residential buildings, this flatscreen TV-shaped design is all business in the front, party in the back. COBE's proposal for the Tingbjerg Culture House in Copenhagen is set on the site of a former parking lot adjacent to unfriendly school buildings that turn their backs to the street. The new structure's program includes a library, cafe, and meeting rooms of many sizes, and its designers highlight the focus on facility of communication by making a lot of the interior visible from the street. As the structure deepens away from the street and toward the existing school facilities, its three sides appear to be pinched as they contract downward toward the scale of the original buildings.

—Annie Werbler

· All Denmark posts [Curbed National]
· All Bjarke Ingels coverage [Curbed National]