Denmark's Stunning New Buildings & Architectural Marvels

8-Tallet, modern apartment house, Amager, Copenhagen, Denmark
8-Tallet, modern apartment house, Amager, Copenhagen, Denmark | © mauritius images GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo
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Renowned for its immaculate design concepts, Denmark has seen some truly unique and multi-functional buildings pop up all over the country in the last decade. From residential buildings – where penthouse owners can cycle up to their front door – to elephant houses that allow zoo visitors to scale the rooftop, if it’s in any way plausible, the Danish have most likely already done it. Enjoy our guide to ten Danish architectural feats from the past ten years.

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8 House

Keeping cyclists in mind at all times, the architect company BIG designed residential project 8 House to feature a cycle path, leading all the way from the ground up to the tenth floor. Two courtyard spaces fill the centres of each of the loops that make up the figure of eight, which are connected by a tunnel that houses communal facilities. 61,000 square metres in size, 8 House was the third housing development that BIG have worked on in Orestad. Making it stand out from other urban developments are the two sloping green roofs which were added in to the design, reducing the urban heat island effect as well as to create a sense of transition from the surrounding farmland to this new urban centre. The lower levels of 8 House are made up of office space and the upper floors have been turned into beautiful homes.

Elephant House

Designed by Foster + Partners architects, the Elephant House was opened by the Danish royal family in 2008. Setting new standards in zoological design, the design team created a home for the elephants that was perfectly suited to their behavioural patterns. The enclosure was built at subterranean level to enable the architects to use the natural insulation of the surrounding walls and to create the paddock’s floor topping with the sand found in the ground. A glass roof covers the enclosure to provide added insulation and the windows can be opened to increase ventilation when necessary. The ‘fritting’ on the rooftop windows are designed to give elephants the feeling that they are actually under a canopy of trees rather than a glass roof. By keeping the rooftop transparent, the elephants can benefit from natural light and the changing of daylight to night time.

The Iceberg

Resembling a cluster of floating icebergs along the harbour front at Aarhus, The Iceberg is a residential block made up of 200 apartments each offering their inhabitants plenty of natural light and views across the ocean. Each of the icebergs have been finished at slightly different heights to ensure that all of the apartments can enjoy a generous amount of natural light. Designed by JDS, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard, a number of two-storey townhouses and penthouses have been incorporated into the design as well as numerous single storey apartments. Finished in 2013, The Iceberg was amongst the first housing projects to be completed in the former container port of Aarhus, an area which is currently enjoying a renovation in a bid to develop it into one of the trendiest places to live and work in the city.

The Koncerthuset

Opened in 2009, The Koncerthuset is the work of Pritzker Prize winning architect Jean Nouvel. Designed in homage to the style of architecture of Theodor Lauritzen and Hans Sharoun, Nouvel wanted The Koncerthuset to blend in with its environment but offered no indication from its exterior as to what went on inside. He said, “the interior is a world in itself, complex and diversified. An interior street lined with shops follows the path of the urban canal; a restaurant and bar spill into it. The restaurant is dominated by a covered square, a large empty volume beneath the wooden “scales” cladding the concert hall above. It is a world of contrasts and surprises, a labyrinth, an interior landscape.” A truly magnificent and well-thought out design, visiting The Koncerthuset solely to appreciate its architectural design is pleasurable in itself.


The brainwave of 3XN Architects, the Lighthouse has become an iconic building group that is instantaneously recognised by design enthusiasts around the world. Made up of 216 elegant apartments, Lighthouse is one of the many architectural feats to have popped up in the Aarhus Docklands over the last few years. Made up of a few different buildings grouped together over a shared outdoor communal space, high-rise structures have been blended with groups of terraced houses to create both high and low level communities. The stand out structure is undeniably the remarkable Lighthouse Tower, which at 142 metres in height makes it the tallest building in Denmark.

National Aquarium Denmark

The largest aquarium in Northern Europe, the National Aquarium Denmark (Den Blaa Planet) is home to more than 20,000 animals that live in its seven million litres of water. Inspired by the circulating currents that a whirlpool creates, the design of the aquarium gives the impression of a swirling and moving building. On entering the aquarium, visitors find themselves standing in the round lobby which acts as the ‘vortex’ of the whirlpool. From here they are able to follow the varying swirls to reach the 53 different installations and aquariums. Designed by architects and lead consultants at 3XN A/S, the National Aquarium Denmark has been stunningly crafted both internally and externally.

Royal Danish Playhouse

Nicknamed a ‘theatre machine’, the new Royal Danish Playhouse has been cleverly designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg architects to make the most out of the space without creating an eyesore amongst the surrounding historic buildings. The Royal Danish Playhouse is made up of three main elements: the oak-clad promenade with fabulous panoramic views; the scene building which houses the auditorium and the three scenes; and the expansive roof level, which is used for a multitude of purposes. The new playhouse was completed in 2007 and has since won many awards including the Sustainable Concrete Prize in 2009 and the Danish Lighting Award in 2008.

SEB Bank & Pension HQ

Two commercial buildings set along the Kalvebod Brygge, SEB Bank & Pension HQ are both geometrically challenging structures made up of nine hidden towers. Designed by architects Lundgaard & Tranberg, each building is ten-storeys in height and they are connected by a number of underground communal facilities. The buildings have been expertly designed to blend in with the beautiful landscape that acts as a backdrop to the area and the two buildings together encompass 25,000 square metres of space. The glass-clad structures have been designed to make the most of the sun and the natural light – 60 per cent of the panels are transparent windows, whilst the other 40 per cent are highly insulated glass panels.

Tietgen Student’s Residence

A futuristic indication of what all student residences may look like in a few years time, Tietgen Student’s Residence certainly is a cut above the lifeless looking dormitories sometimes reminiscent of university. A unique circular building, Tietgen houses just under 400 students all of whom can enjoy the freedom of walking the entire way round each of the seven floors of the building without ever coming to a dead end. Giving a real sense of community to the student residence, as well as beautiful individual rooms, the architects have created plenty of communal areas for the students to enjoy. Designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg, the building has won several awards since its completion and incorporates many architectural feats into its design, including the box kitchens which appear to be hanging freely in the air.

VM Mountain

Designed by highly acclaimed architects Bjarke Ingels (BIG), JDS and Plot, VM Mountain is a beautifully-modern residential unit. Made up of 80 individual apartments, the staggered levels allows for highly sought after outdoor space in the form of cleverly designed roof terraces. Eleven floors in height, the highest level apartments afford outstanding views across Denmark and its stunning coastline. To further add to the futuristic feel of VM Mountain, an automatic sprinkler system is in place across all of the roof gardens to ensure that the evergreen vegetation always looks its most attractive. Finished in 2008, the architects and designers were soon after rearded for their efforts when VM Mountain won the title of ‘World’s Best Residential Building’ at the World Architecture Fair.

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