Back in July of 2008, we reported that 3XN had won the international design competition for Denmark's new The Blue Planet aquarium with an exciting whirlpool-shaped proposal right outside of Copenhagen. Now the inauguration day of the completed building has come, and the $127M-aquarium will officially open to the public this Friday, March 22.
Kim Herforth Nielsen, Creative Director at 3XN, said: “Our wish was to bring our visitors all the way down to the world of the fish. Therefore, the design of The Blue Planet.is based on the story about water and life under the sea. We visualise the construction as a whirlpool which draws visitors into the depths to the fascinating experiences waiting among fish and sea animals from all over the world.”
Project Description from The Blue Planet:
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.
Engineering: Moe & Brødsgaard
Moe & Brødsgaard designed the overall planning and layout of the outside areas. The building extends beyond the original coastline, placing special requirements on the facility's structures in a terrain with tendency to subsidence.
The structure is founded on piles and all of the sewage structures are suspended in the concrete structure. A service line was built 1.6 km out into the Øresund to obtain suitable water for the aquariums.
Using 3D modelling, we designed the building's advanced concrete and steel structures. The building's architectural facade design forms the basis for the design of the steel structures. The load-bearing system consists of 54 unique steel frames, which via their radial positioning and geometry forms the base of the curved facades.
The concrete structures around the aquariums are exposed to an aggressive saltwater environment, which imposes extreme requirements on the structures' lifetime and corrosion protection.
HVAC in the aquarium
3D modelling was used in the design of the numerous installations, e.g. Amazonas. We designed the installations for the aquarium technology and humidity and heating control of special climatic areas is designed to fit inside the building's advanced geometry. The cooling system for aquariums and climate system for public areas use seawater from Øresund.
Monitoring and regulation of the technical installations is integrated into a Building Management System. The BMS processes information from technical systems such as the aquarium system, fuse system, heating, cooling and ventilation system and lighting in the public area. 3D design has contributed to the design and coordination of the advanced systems.
Exhibition Design: Kvorning Design & Communication
Kvorning Design & Communication have created a complete experience of life in fresh- and saltwater across the earth for The Blue Planet. The concept sucks the visitor into an underwater universe with an atmosphere that will fascinate and enchant both children and adults.
The exhibition is a total concept offering all visitors a sensuous and captivating experience of life in and under the water. A mixture of light, sound, advanced AV-technology, projections, film, interactivity, graphics, illustrations and signs aimed at all age levels ensures that every visitor, regardless of background or interests, has the best experience possible. Moreover, the concept sets new standards for aquarium facilitation and design.
Kvorning and partners have developed, produced and implemented the exhibition- and facilitation concept as well as the light and sound concept. Content and overall concept was developed together with Denmark’s Aquarium.
Aquarium Technology: AAT Advanced Aquarium Technologies
The aquarium technologies delivered include pumps, filters, tubing and acrylic glazings as well as the rock works are designed and manufactured by the Australian aquarium company, Advanced Aquarium Technologies.
The technology ensures an independent supply for each of the different types of water. The supply system shall be able to handle the aggressive corrosion properties of warm saltwater. Moreover it is important that the 4 million liters of water in the ocean tank can be filtered and sanitized once every hour. Finally, the system shall also be able to safeguard that all spill water has been cleaned before it is let out into nature.
Client: Bygningsfonden Den Blå Planet
Architect and consultant: 3XN A/S
Consulting engineers: Moe & Brødsgaard A/S
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 (126.8M USD) – 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