Architecture and installations

It was nature's whirlpool forms that provided the source of inspiration for the new National Aquarium Denmark - swirling water, shoals of fish and flocks of birds swarming across the sky. The form of the building gives visitors a hint of what awaits them inside.

Den Blå Planet stands a few metres above ground on a promontory looking on to the Øresund, north of Kastrup harbour. The landmark shape of the building is clearly visible from the air and easily spotted by aircraft passengers coming into land at Copenhagen Airport. Situated directly on the Øresund, its whirlpool form connects the land and the sea and draws both the surrounding landscape and visitors further in under the building and the water. The facade is clad with rhomboid aluminium panels, so-called shingles, which closely hug the building's organic forms. Like water, the aluminium reflects the colour and light from the sky and causes the building to fluctuate in appearance.

Delving into another world
Visitors reach the entrance by following the first and longest arm of the whirlpool, which emerges from the surrounding landscape. There is a flowing transition from the landscape to the arms of the building, which rise up to meet approaching guests, while the outdoor pools signify the unique experience awaiting visitors to the aquarium.

Flexible movement between the exhibition spaces
A circular room is the pivotal point around which the visitors explore the different aquariums, and it is from here that they choose which river, lake or ocean to investigate.  The purpose of providing several alternative routes was to minimise the risk of queues forming around the individual aquariums. Each exhibition space has its own distinguishing features and entrance from the round foyer, where sound and images are used to set the scene as the exhibition unfolds.

Melting into the landscape
In the surrounding landscape, the whirlpool continues through different terrain, the pools and the sea, which laps the edge of the building. The building is supple and dynamic like the flow of water and the lines of the whirlpool can be extended to accommodate future enlargements.

Complex project
Den Blå Planet is a highly complex building that creates a striking and economically sustainable setting affording a unique cultural experience while housing a sensitive eco-system for some of the most vulnerable species in the world. 3XN acted as project manager for all eight sub-consultants. The project was extremely ambitious from the outset, and the organic forms of the complex facades alone were a challenging project that called for solid cooperation between the parties involved.