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Made in Scandinavia

3XN combine Scandinavian clarity and functionality with individual forms and precise details. Following early statement projects like the Danish Embassy in Berlin which was opened in 1999, the Copenhagen-based practice has created a variety of more internationally recognised projects in recent years, among them the National Aquarium Denmark in Kastrup and the Bella Sky Hotel in Copenhagen. Current projects for the architects include designing the new headquarters of the IOC in Lausanne.

Founded around 30 years ago, 3XN has long been one of the most in-demand architectural teams in Scandinavia. Named after the initials of the three founding members and today led by Kim Herforth Nielsen, Jan Ammundsen, Kasper Guldager Jensen and Jeanette Hansen, the practice currently employs some 90 people at its two offices in Copenhagen and Stockholm. They have continued to perfect the need for functionality, simple orientation, participatory openness, interaction with the environment and elegant, high-quality design – all present at the outset – and have long since developed it to a higher standard. The »3XN Architects behind the scenes« exhibition, shown a few months ago in the Berlin Aedes Architecture Forum, afforded a great opportunity to gain an extensive overview of the work of the architects. In addition to the headquar-ters of international law firm Horten in Copenhagen (2009) with its three-dimensional façade relief made from glass and natural stone and the head office of Middelfart Savings Bank (2010) on the Danish island of Fünen with its spectacular folded roof and façade construction made from aluminium, the National Aquarium Denmark »Den Blå Planet« in Kastrup (2013) was also documented with its organically twisted, aluminium outer envelope which propels from the water of the Öresund like a giant whirlpool.

Dynamically curved: The Copenhagen Royal Arena with its façade made from timber and glass.

The various projects are proof of the high level of expertise 3XN has in the area of cultural and prestigious constructions and are particularly impressive with their individual aesthetic that blends into the cityscape as well as their open organisation which encourages communication. »We proceed on the assumption that architecture has a huge influence on our behaviour,« explains partner architect Jan Ammundsen during an interview. »This is why we place great value on creating integrated rooms and pleasant environments in which users feel part of a greater whole.« The developers also place great value on the development and use of new digital technology, new materials and environmentally-friendly technologies through their internal research and innovation department GXN.

One of the most well-known projects from 3XN is the Bella Sky Hotel (2011) in Copenhagen, which, with its expressively distorted silhouette and its vibrant, urban unitised façade made from glass and aluminium, has long since become a new landmark in the Danish capital. The largest hotel in Scandinavia consists of two towers 76 metres in height which rise above a shared base and contain a total of 814 rooms and 30 conference rooms. In order to achieve an optimum view in all areas, the two building structures lean at a considerable angle of 15 degrees in opposite directions.

Expressively distorted: The Bella Sky Hotel in Copenhagen, with its bold silhouette and vibrant unitised façade made from glass and aluminium.

Currently on the brink of completion, the circular Royal Arena in Copenhagen, which can hold 15,000 people and serves as both a concert and sports hall, stands with its elegantly curving, semi-transparent façade made from vertical timber louvre blades. In parallel with this, the developers are also designing the new headquarters of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. The dynamic shape of the glass building is deliberately intended to remind people of an athlete in movement and also takes architectural inspiration from the existing parkland on the banks of Lake Geneva. The ring-shaped stairways inside are not only impressive as a spatial experience, they also keep the Olympic idea clearly in view for the IOC employees.

Words: Robert Uhde
Photos: Adam Mørk