The Blue Planet is Europe’s largest and most significant aquarium with an outstanding location on the shores of Øresund, only eight kilometres from the Copenhagen City Hall Square. Moreover, the aquarium in Taarnby Municipality is ideally located with motorways, Copenhagen Airport, the Øresund Bridge, Metro and international trains within few hundred meters.
The Blue Planet will be one of Denmark’s five most prominent tourist attractions. At the tourism conference “A New Way to Grow” 2012, the Blue Planet was chosen as Denmark’s best lighthouse project within experience economy, because of its potential for growth, influence on regional development, innovation, realization as well as its uniqueness and ‘reason to go’.
The History behind Denmark’s Aquarium
Denmark’s Aquarium was founded by civil engineer and contractor Knud Højgaard. It opened for the public in 1939 just four months before the break out of World War II and seven months before the occupation of Denmark. The consequence was closed borders and considerable problems in getting hold of exotic animals to the aquarium. However, through an impressive effort with Danish and home reared fish the aquarium was kept open and active. After the war, the aquarium was in a bad shape, and Knud Højgaard initiated extensive renovations. During the next decades the building went through several modernizations and enlargements.
For more than 73 years the original building in Charlottenlund was the setting for enjoyment and education for all ages. For the last years, however, the establishment was run down and a continuous demand for expansions and high end technologies was the order of the day.
Preparations for The Blue Planet
Already in the mid-90s, Jesper Horsted, curator of Denmark’s Aquarium, outlined the first ideas on how a totally new and modern aquarium should be designed. The old building needed a total renovation which would be costly without even providing guests with a significant better experience. A much needed enlargement was neither possible at the site nor economically feasible with regard to the overall improvement of the attraction of the aquarium.
What was needed was a new location and new framings to give coming generations of visitors new and outstanding adventures. Inspired by visits to the world’s most exciting aquariums and spiced up with ideas of his own, Jesper Horsted formulated his wishes for the design of a totally new Danish Aquarium. Principles which were later to become the fundament for the international competition of The Blue Planet. Now, Denmark’s Aquarium is again at the international forefront with world class architecture, thousands of animals from all over the world and advanced presentation technologies.
Inspired by the shape of water in endless motion, Denmark’s new National Aquarium, The Blue Planet is shaped as a great whirlpool, and the building itself tells the story of what awaits inside. The Blue Planet is located on an elevated headland towards the sea, north of Kastrup Harbor. Located right next to the water, the whirlpool binds land and sea together. The building’s distinctive shape is clearly visible for travelers arriving by plane to the nearby Copenhagen Airport. The facade is covered with small diamond-shaped aluminum plates, known as shingles, which adapts to the building’s organic form. Just as water aluminum mirrors the colors and light of the sky and thus the building has a very varied expression – like nature itself. As the flow of water, the building is flexible and dynamic, and this means that the lines of the whirlpool can be continued in future expansions.
Into another world
Visitors reach the entrance by following the first and longest of the whirlpool’s whirls, already starting in the landscape. With a smooth transition the landscape surpasses for the building, while the outdoor ponds mark the unique experience that awaits the aquarium visitors as they enter The Blue Planet: the whirlpool has pulled them into another world – a world beneath the surface of the sea.
Flexible movement between exhibitions
A circular foyer is the center of motion around the aquarium, and it is here visitors choose which river, lake or ocean to explore. By enabling multiple routes the risk of queues in front of individual aquariums is reduced. Each exhibition has its own theme and entrance from the foyer, where sound and images are used to introduce the atmosphere of the different exhibition areas. The restaurant enjoys a magnificent view of the sea, which begins just a few meters away.
Complex Building Project
The Blue Planet is a building of high complexity, which at one time creates a one of a kind setting for a unique and economically sustainable cultural experience, while creating the framework for the complex ecosystem of some of the world’s most sensitive animal species. 3XN has been the project manager for a total of fifteen sub-consultants. From the very beginning ambitions have been high, and the organic forms of the complex facade have been a challenge, which have required a strong collaboration between the consultants.
Consultant, landscape: HJ Landskab A/S
Consultant, exhibition: Kvorning design & kommunikation
Large constructions: MT Højgaard, Hoffmann A/S, Kai Andersen A/S, E. Pihl & Søn A/S
Aquarium technique, total constrauction: AAT Advanced Aquarium Technologies
Landscaping: HJ Landskab
Client consultant: PLH Arkitekter A/S
Total budget: 2013 prices App. 730 million DKK – inclusive the value of the building site etc.
Gross area: App. 10,000 square meters, whereof app. 5,000 square meters exhibition Outdoor area: app. 2,000 square meters plus parking area for 200 vehicles, in total parking for 575 vehicles
Realdania: app. 300 million DKK
Knud Højgaards Fond: 100 million DK
Tårnby Municipality: The building site etc.
Dronning Margrethes og Prins Henriks Fond: 100,000 DKK
Real Estate Finansing
LR Realkredit A/S: 238 million DKK Photos: Adam Mørk