The public can now visit a new maritime center on the coast of Esbjerg, Denmark, designed by Danish design firm WERK Arkitekter and Oslo-based Snhetta. After winning the maritime center competition in 2019, the collaborative duo was given the opportunity to design the communal space. The structural project features an uneven wooden design and serves as a meeting place for watersports clubs as well as casual harbor visitors. In addition, residents of the coastal town can now visit the interactive space known as “The Lantern.” The 2,800-square-meter structure features mismatched windows that provide angelic lighting inside and out, as well as a theatre-style staircase that faces the ocean for an enchanting view. The center, inspired by marine craftsmanship, has a vertical paneled design that represents the effect of light against water in the moonlight. Inside, you’ll find a variety of multifaceted facilities and clubs, as well as advanced boat storage, training areas, and workshops for socializing and learning.

In the gallery above, you can see inside the new WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta maritime center.

New Maritime Center in Esbjerg, Denmark, Opens to the Public - Sheet1
New Maritime center_©wichmann+bendtsen photography

The Location and Surroundings | Maritime Center

A wooden community center for water sports clubs has opened on the coast of Esbjerg, Denmark, with a design that references boat construction by studios Snhetta and WERK Arkitekter.

Positioned on an artificial island, the circular Esbjerg Maritime Center is designed to pay homage to the maritime traditions of the Danish seaport town. The location of the Esbjerg Maritime Center was chosen because it is easily accessible from the mainland and is protected from changing sea levels by a breakwater.

New Maritime Center in Esbjerg, Denmark, Opens to the Public - Sheet2
The top view showing the aesthetic shape of the center_© wichmann+bendtsen photography

The Design Philosophy

“The brief was to relocate all of the different clubs on different addresses in Esbjerg into one new building,” said Frank Foray, senior architect and project lead at Snøhetta.

“We proposed a circular building to create a welcoming building from all sides,” Foray explained to Dezeen. “A shape that brings people together.”

The upper level of the structure houses sport clubs such as rowing, kayaking, and diving, as well as an educational center and training facilities.

The structure includes facilities for various clubs, boat storage, training facilities, and workshop areas, as well as other social and educational functions designed to encourage visitors’ activity, engagement, and learning. The volume of the building is intended to protect its occupants from strong winds. The wooden façade is intended to withstand harsh weather conditions, while the concrete foundation is designed to withstand high water if the water level exceeds the surrounding dam. 

The public terrace area_© wichmann+bendtsen photography

There is also a public terrace here, which serves as the project’s social hub. It is accessible via two staircases and has views of the sea. The terrace’s openings help to illuminate the lower level, which houses boat storage and workshop areas with direct access to the sea.

The Poetic expression of the Structure

The building, which measures approximately 2,800 square meters, is inspired by the geometry and craftsmanship of boats as a nod to Esbjerg’s maritime tradition. The rippling effect of light reflected by water inspired the rhythm of the façade and the repetition of the vertical wooden elements. The same beat can be heard on the roof, where solar panels are integrated into a belt around the top edge. The project was named to ArchDaily’s list of the most anticipated buildings to open in 2023, alongside other projects such as Snøhetta’s Beijing Sub-Center Library, China, Studio Gang’s expansion of New York City’s Museum of Natural History, and OMA’s The Buffalo AKG Art Museum. Snøhetta has also recently unveiled plans for a new Public Library in New York City as well as a Museum of Sex in Miami, Florida.

“From the experienced diver or professional kayaker to a crab-fishing school class or a random passer-by, the maritime center has room for everyone,” Foray said. “The Lantern invites everyone to take a look inside the maritime world and out to the sea with its endless horizon.”

New Maritime Center in Esbjerg, Denmark, Opens to the Public - Sheet4
The grand pathway leading upwards_© wichmann+bendtsen photography

The Structure | Maritime Center

The Esbjerg Maritime Center is made of wood and concrete and is powered by a combination of rooftop solar panels and grid electricity. 

The building’s foundation was made of concrete, which was cast on-site in one piece and was designed to withstand high tide if it ever exceeded the flood barrier.

Meanwhile, heat-treated pine is used for the roof structure and cladding of the building, which is designed with a “rhythm and repetition” inspired by both boat craftsmanship and water movement. Furthermore, the facade panels are arranged to cast shadows that, according to Snøhetta, are meant to resemble the shapes of kayaks.

“The chosen wood structure is inspired by the rich culture of boat craftsmanship from both the outside and the inside,” Foray explained. “The thermo-heated wood reflects the original deeply Nordic-rooted material for boat construction,” he continues. “It’ll be grey in a few years.” Snøhetta and WERK Arkitekter chose pine cladding because it will grey over time and is commonly used in boat construction. The boat reference also continues inside, where the rooms and materials are intended to act as a cozy shelter that gives “the impression of being under a boat turned upside down”.

New Maritime Center in Esbjerg, Denmark, Opens to the Public - Sheet5
The wooden structure from outside with angular fins_© wichmann+bendtsen photography


  1. Maria-Cristina Florian. “Snøhetta and WERK Arkitekter’s New Maritime Center in Esbjerg, Denmark, Opens to the Public” 12 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Jan 2023. <> ISSN 0719-8884
  2. Maria-Cristina Florian. ” The top view showing the aesthetic shape of the center ” 12 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Jan 2023. <> ISSN 0719-8884
  3. Maria-Cristina Florian. ” The public terrace area ” 12 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Jan 2023. <> ISSN 0719-8884
  4. Maria-Cristina Florian. ” The grand pathway leading upwards ” 12 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Jan 2023. <> ISSN 0719-8884
  5. Maria-Cristina Florian. ” The wooden structure from outside with angular fins ” 12 Jan 2023. ArchDaily. Accessed 18 Jan 2023. <> ISSN 0719-8884

Aniket is an ardent and passionate Young Architect who likes to explore the diversities in the Architectural field. He is a Nature loving person and tries to learn from it. His curiosity and passion for architecture enhance the philosophical aspect of his personality. His love for our field comes from the books he reads, the people he meets, and most importantly his observations of minute details.