Modern Danish architecture and the story of a livable city

Copenhagen is the perfect city to discover modern architecture and urban spaces. Cycle around Denmark’s enchanting capital to explore architect Bjarke Ingels playful buildings, artist Olafur Eliasson’s swinging bridge and join the vibrant local community at Superkilen.

Modern architecture and urban spaces in Copenhagen (2018/2018)Visit Copenhagen

Inside view. The UN building (2002/2013) by 3XN ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen


Danish architecture is going through a new golden age with internationally acclaimed local architects, such as Henning Larsen and BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group, leaving their mark on Copenhagen as well as the rest of the world. Water, space, sustainability and light are the key elements in the recent architectural boom in maritime Copenhagen. Bold urban planning and world-class architecture is shooting up alongside old historic buildings and palaces. Let's go on a journey through the beautiful architecture of Copenhagen. 

The National Aquarium of Denmark (2008/2013) by 3XN ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

#1 The National Aquarium of Denmark

Our first stop is the National Aquarium of Denmark, The Blue Planet, which is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium with thousands of animals and seven million liters of water...

Detail of the facade.The National Aquarium of Denmark (2008/2013) by 3XN ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

A maritime sensation

Designed by Danish architects 3XN and completed in 2013, The Blue Planet is a remarkably successful attempt to connect the theme of an aquarium, namely water and the creatures living in it, with its architectural concept and form.

The 97,000 square foot aluminum-clad whirlpool which constitutes the architectural trademark of the building, along with being an iconic shape reminiscent of the “form of the water” and a reference to the legendary Maelströms by Poe and Verne, it also quite apt for the Danish aquarium’s function.

Front view. The Opera House (2001/2005) by Henning Larsen ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

#2 The Royal Danish Opera House

You are now in front of Copenhagen's enchanting Opera House, which totals 41,000 square metres.

The Copenhagen Opera House is designed by Danish architect Henning Larsen, and a number of Danish artists have contributed to the decor, among them Per Kirkeby who has created four bronze reliefs, and Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson who has contributed the three light sculptures for the foyer.

Inside view. The Opera House (2001/2005) by Henning Larsen ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

Take a look around

Extensions to a dream

The Opera House is clad with southern German Jura Gelb limestone, and the foyer features Sicilian Perlatino marble. The wall of the auditorium facing the foyer is clad with maple wood, and the ceiling in the main auditorium is adorned with 105,000 sheets of 24 carat gold leaf, equivalent to 1.5 kilos of gold.

Superkilen. The Black Market (2005/2012) by Superflex & BIG ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

#3 Superkilen park

Step right into the urban open space at Superkilen. The park is divided into three main areas: The Black Market, The Red Square and The Green Park.

Superkilen is designed by BIG architects, landscape architects topotek1 and the Danish artist group Superflex

Superkilen - The red square (2005/2012) by Superflex & BIG ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

While The Red Square designates the modern, urban life with café, music and sports, The Black Market is the classic square with fountain and benches. The Green Park is a park for picnics, sports and walking the dog.

Superkilen. The Black Market (2005/2012) by Superflex & BIG ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

An amazing place for diversity

Superkilen welcomes diversity, and the park will be like a world exhibition scattered with miscellaneous street furniture from 60 different nations

A fountain from Morocco, a sculpture from Japan, Neon signs from Russia and Qatar, picnic benches from Armenia and ping-pong tables from Spain are just some of the different objects in the park, which are meant to represent the nationalities of every local resident.

The Cirkel Bridge (2009/2015) by Olafur EliassonVisit Copenhagen

#4 The Circle Bridge

Take a bike ride on The Circle Bridge over the canals. It is a swing bridge with six spans of varying sizes.

The Cirkel Bridge (2015/2018) by Olafur EliassonVisit Copenhagen

A bridge that deserves to be caressed

Behind the design of the bridge is world-renowned and award-winning Danish-Islandic artist Olafur Eliasson.

The bridge consists of five differently sized circular platforms, each with its own mast, and it is from these circular platforms, the name of the bridge arises.

Besides the obvious functional benefit of the harbour’s new architectural landmark, the beautiful design with the five masts resembles a ship by the quay as a reference to Copenhagen’s shipping history.

Side view. The Black Diamond (1993/1999) by Schmidt Hammer Lassen ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

#5 The Black Diamond

The Black Diamond was finished in 1999 and is an extension to the Royal Library. The building is shiny, black facets mirror the sea and the sky at the harbour front.

Inside view. The Black Diamond (1993/1999) by Schmidt Hammer Lassen ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

A library that's well worth seeking

A large incision cleaves the building into two formations and gives light to the atrium inside. The atrium connects the city with the sea outside as well as the old and new library buildings. The glass facade is held by iron girders weighing approximately one metric tonne per metre.

The Royal Library. The Black Diamond (1993/1999) by Schmidt Hammer Lassen ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

Søren Kierkegaard's Archive

This is the public Royal Library where Denmark's national philosopher, one of the most influential cultural figures, Søren Kierkegaard's manuscripts are kept safely in Søren Kierkegaard Archive. No one outside the library has access to the impressive, large manuscript collection, and only a very few inside.

Front view of the museum. M/S Museet for Søfart (1400/2013)Visit Copenhagen

#6 M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark

The M/S Maritime Museum is located in front of Kronborg Castle in Elsinore and is shaped like an enormous ship. It is built under the ground around an old dry dock.

At The Maritime Museum of Denmark you will experience a piece of iconic architecture built below ground around an old dry dock in front of Kronborg Castle. The award winning architecture is designed by the internationally renowned architects from BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group.

Conference room. M/S Museet for Søfart (1400/2013)Visit Copenhagen

An architectural suicide mission

“Due to preserving the views of prince hamlets’ castle’s towers we were not allowed to even stick out a meter above the ground level. We considered it architectural suicide to fill the dry dock with program and therefore decided to empty the dry dock and wrap it with the museum, making it the centerpiece of the exhibition. Instead of drowning the dry dock with galleries we would leave it open. A new kind of urban space – open for new ideas and life”

- Bjarke ingels, architect and founder of BIG

The VM Mountain (2002/2008) by BIG, JDS & Plot ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

#7 VM Mountain

The prestigious VM MOUNTAIN in Ørestad City is designed by architects Bjarke Ingels (BIG), JDS and Plot.

The program for The Mountain was to build a structure where 2/3 were devoted to parking and 1/3 to residental, and the solution was radical. BIG designed a building where the parking area became the foundation of the homes - like concrete hillside covered by a thin layer of housing. The building is basically a hollow mountain filled with cars and sprinkled with apartments on top, creating roof terraces and great views.

The VM Mountain (2002/2008) by BIG, JDS & Plot ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen

An enchanting oasis of architecture

The VM MOUNTAIN was finished in 2008. It was shortly after awarded the world's best residential building at the World Architecture Fair.

The Bicycle Snake (2010/2014) by DISSING+WEITLING ArchitectureVisit Copenhagen

Take a look

#8 Bicycle Snake

With its clever urban adaptation, harmonic flow and elegant structure, The Bicycle Snake has become an icon for Copenhagen’s status as the world’s leading bicycle city and a symbol of the city’s praised urban qualities.

The Bicycle Snake (2010/2014) by DISSING+WEITLING ArchitectureVisit Copenhagen

Copenhagen's most iconic cycle bridge

The Bicycle Bridge is yet a perfect example of what puts Copenhagen among the very best bike cities in the world. Its slender design and the experience it offers to cyclists stands out as a perfect contrast to the buildings and concrete between which it passes.

BLOX (2013/2018) by OMA ArchitectsVisit Copenhagen


BLOX is much more than a building. BLOX is virtually a new neighbourhood on the harbour front in historical, central Copenhagen. Among other functions, the building is home to the Danish Architecture Centre’s exhibitions and to BLOXHUB – an interdisciplinary innovation environment for sustainable development. The complex includes new public spaces, a harbour promenade, bridges, a café/restaurant with canal side terrace, fitness centre, apartments and the playground for young and old.

Tourism Culture Lab logosVisit Copenhagen

The Development project Tourism + Culture Lab is co-financed by the local authority.

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Created by Camilla Tullin

The exhibit is a part of the development project Tourism + Culture Lab. The project is anchored in Wonderful Copenhagen and co-financed by the Capital Region.

Wonderful Copenhagen (Visit Copenhagen) is the official tourism organization for The Capital Region of Denmark, working to promote and develop both business and leisure tourism in The Capital Region of Denmark on a non-profit basis.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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