UN CITY in Copenhagen by 3XN
With its Vauban-esque star-shape, the new UN City looks like a fortress facing the sea. The high security standards were definitely a primary requirement, but the building managed to find a certain balance; appearing open and accommodating to the city at the same time. It’s also registered with the LEED sustainability ratings system with the certification goal of minimum LEED® Gold.
Bringing together the various agencies and functions of the United Nations regional offices in Copenhagen, the new Head Office is located at the northern harbour of Copenhagen. 3XN’s star shaped design reflects the nature of each UN unit working independently, efficiently and professionally with clear roots in a mutual set of values – Delivering as One.
High security and accessibility standards have been central considerations in the design of the new Head Office. The UN City must live up to the most stringent requirements, providing a protected and safe environment, while at the same time appearing open and accommodating to the city. It has therefore been a key part of the design to ensure that the high security level does not become the dominating feeling when entering the building. Instead security and openness should be experienced as two aspects of the same coin.
The atrium is the centre of daily life offering visual and physical connections across floors and units in a space full of natural daylight and a central staircase. All office levels have an open and flexible layout permitting interaction as well as individual immersion. Work stations are ensured plenty of daylight and a good indoor climate.
The work environment is further improved by an overall health policy including green recreational areas and a number of sustainable features. Hence, the UN City is expected to become one of Denmark’s most energy efficient buildings with an annual energy consumption of less than 50 KwH per m2 The UN City is registered with the LEED sustainability ratings system with the certification goal of minimum LEED® Gold.
3XN was founded as Nielsen, Nielsen and Nielsen in Aarhus in 1986 by the architects Kim Herforth Nielsen, Lars Frank Nielsen (partner until 2002) and Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen (partner until 1992). The studio quickly became known for two things: their preference for social and humane architecture, and projects demanding a high level of detail and employing workmanship of the highest quality.
A first breakthrough came with the court house in Holstebro (1992), which was followed by a number of first prizes in architectural competitions, such as the Danish Embassy in Berlin (1998) and the concert hall Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam (1997). The two latter structures made a name on the international architectural scene for the artistically ambitious Danish architects with their social approach and carefully planned spatial formations.
The Muziekgebouw (2005) the Museum of Liverpool (2011) and The Blue Planet Aquarium shows the expertise on culture buildings and prestigious international proyects, with emphasis on original solutions in plans, facades and organisation of the interiors.
The revolutionary design of Danish upper secondary school Ørestad College (2004-2007), together with a number of original corporate headquarters designs such as FIH, Deloitte, Saxo Bank, Horten and KPMG, show that 3XN, through daring concepts and design create architecture that contributes positively to learning and working environments.
These innovations are also reflected in master plans and housing projects like the Lighthouse in Aarhus and the new Denmark’s Aquarium, The Blue Planet, in Copenhagen.
Photogaphy by Adam Mõrk