Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, prides itself on weaving its rich architectural and nautical history with its goal to be a world-leading destination for sustainable solutions. Much has been attempted and put into practice by leading architects, to question pressing matters of the day, such as Urban Heat Island Effect, Green Mobility, and Cohesive and Inclusive Public Spaces. The Danes have time and again proved their genius in their urban fabric, and in turn, their daily lives.

According to the World’s Happiness Report 2019, Denmark closely follows Finland to be the happiest country in the world, and the following architectural and urban masterpieces in its capital, Copenhagen can alone justify why:

1. Superkilen Park

To reflect the ethnically-diverse and socially-challenged neighborhood of Nørrebro, Superkilen was perceived to be a kilometer-long public space that weaves through the bohemian community through its three color-coded zones-red, black and green. Red, with its characteristic red, orange and magenta foreground, acts as an extension to the adjacent sports hall with its eclectic urban infrastructure to engage the community; Black, ‘an urban living room’, strongly distinguished by white lines snaking through the asphalt flooring, animated by a Moroccan fountain, a bulbous play-area and neon signposts; and Green, a park scape backdrop to present more than 100 objects from about 60 nationalities, curated in close collaboration with the locals. Much like the built fabric, the landscape comprises of Japanese cherry blossoms, Chinese palms and Lebanese cedar trees, to establish the diversity that the project aims to enunciate and build on. A surreal bubble of cultural explosion nominated for the 2013 Mies Van Der Rohe Award, Superkilen is testimony to demonstrate how urban design can promote cultural tolerance and public participation.

Designed by BIG, with landscape architects Topotek1 in collaboration with artist collective Superflex.

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The Black Living Room-Superkilen; Source: Archdaily
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The Red Square-Superkilen; Source: Dezeen
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The Green Park-Superkilen; Source: Archdaily

2. Cirkelbroen (The Circle Bridge)

Cirkelbroen, easily distinguished with its tall posts, rising over its five circular platforms like masts in a ship, is designed as an artifact, reflective of Copenhagen’s nautical history and its celebrated waterfront life. It was opened in 2015 to connect Central Copenhagen areas, Christiansborg and Applebys Plads. Treading a step ahead of its obvious function as a bridge, Cirkelbroen is envisioned as a meeting space and aims to encourage bicyclists and pedestrians to slow down and take a break, to reflect on the transient scenery that surrounds the bridge.

Designed by Olafur Eliasson.

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Cirkelbroen; Source: Visit Denmark
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Night View-Cirkelbroen; Source: Archdaily
Cirkelbroen; Source: Archdaily

3. National Aquarium Denmark (Den Blå Planet)

National Aquarium Denmark is a World-class public aquarium located in Kastrup and is the largest in Europe. Surrounded by water, the building is an interpretation of a whirlpool with its curved arms, cladded in aluminum shingles to resemble fish scales. The entrance of this building leads into an underground central foyer crowned by a water-bodied atrium, attempting to heighten the experience of underwater life. An interesting take towards crowd management was to have no fixed direction of movement from the central foyer so that there would be minimal queueing for the popular aquariums. Its highly sculptural form and program, therefore, aptly matches in meditative and reflective synchronicity to the experience it unfolds as one goes around this architectural marvel.

Designed by 3XN Architects.

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National Aquarium Denmark; Source: Archdaily
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National Aquarium Denmark; Source: Archdaily
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Interior View of National Aquarium Denmark; Source: Archdaily

4. Copenhill

Copenhill may look like a surreal-futuristic endeavor in a post-apocalyptic world, but it is an open-to-public, recreational-waste-management center that is up and running in Copenhagen, all in its aluminum-studded façade, that swirls down from the top in a green-paved expanse. To say that it is sustainable, would be an understatement- With the capacity to convert 440,000 tons of the city’s waste into clean energy every year, it delivers electricity and district heating to about 150,000 homes. Coupled with that, designed as a social mountain, it engages the community with its accessible-roof which acts as a ski slope in winters, and as a hiking and climbing area with cross-fit zones and an education hub in summers. With its hedonistic undertones, this architectural gemstone aims to bridge the gaps in the relationship between architecture, environmental impact and the people and takes a giant leap towards the City’s goal to become the world’s first carbon-neutral city by 2025.

Designed by BIG, AKT, Topotek 1, Man Made Land, and Realities: United, with landscape architects SLA.

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Copenhill; Source: Archdaily
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Social Mountain-Copenhill; Source: Conde Nast Traveler

5. Royal Danish Opera House

Adorning the city’s inner harbor, the Royal Danish Opera House seemed like a pearl in an oyster when it opened in 2004. It is a structural serenade of its function, hosting diverse programs of live music, dance and operas throughout the year. A recipient of the 2008 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award, it is known for its bejeweled façade with floating eaves that measure the length of three football fields and the canals excavated along its sides.

Designed by Henning Larsen.

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The Royal Danish Opera; Source: Architectural Digest
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Waterfront at The Royal Danish Opera; Source: Henning Larsen

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Interiors of The Royal Danish Opera; Source: Archdaily

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Architectural Journalist

Rethinking The Future

Shivani Pinapotu is almost an architect. She started writing to make sense of architecture and in it, she found her joy. She believes that architecture is as much a creative process as it is an expression, a celebration, a million stories untold and she aspires to unfold them all through her words.

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