3XN: UN City

Danish studio 3XN completed an eight-pointed star-shaped regional headquarters for the United Nations, located on an artificial island in Copenhagen’s harbour.

3XN ’s design is a response to the UN’s wishes for an iconic building expressing the organisation’s values and authority. More specifically, the design reflects the independent, efficient and professional nature of each UN unit, while at the same time clearly rooted in a mutual set of values.
Bringing together the various agencies and functions of the United Nations regional offices in Copenhagen, the new UN City is located at Marmormolen (The Marble Pier) north of Copenhagen’s city center.
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
Located on an artificial island the building is naturally separated from its immediate surroundings, while still being highly visible from both the city and the water.
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen

From above, the eight-pointed star shape is a clear visual reference point, which, like the UN, reaches out to all corners of the world. Similar to the surrounding rusty pier edges, the UN city has a dark burnished steel base from which the white main building rises. This is a reference to the elegant white ships that characterize this part of the Copenhagen harbour.

The building has a façade cladding of white perforated aluminium shutters, developed by 3XN and contractor Pihl specifically for the UN City. The shutters ensure solar shading without blocking the view or the daylight. Since the facade is divided into three-meter-long modules, it is possible for the employees to control the sunshade from their computers. The result is an improved indoor environment, and a dynamic façade expressing a building full of life.

3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen

From the core of the star-shaped building, a daylight filled atrium connects the lobby level containing all common functions, with the office levels, where the various UN agencies are distributed.

From the atrium a central staircase binds all levels together. 3XN has created the staircase as a dramatic spatial sculpture, which is to be seen as a symbol of the UN’s work to create dialogue, interaction and positive encounters between people in all parts of the world. In the daily life, the sculptural form inspires the UN employees to want to use the stairs, and thus the staircase also forms the basis for dialogue, cooperation and informal meetings between the various UN organisations.

3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen

The building has been designed to limit the use of chemicals and pollutants during both its construction and its use. The building is entirely ventilated with filtered outside air. This ensures that only clean, fresh air is present in the building and helps balance the interior humidity level.

More than 1,400 solar panels are lining the roof of the building to support the goal of generating renewable energy onsite. With an estimated total production of 297,000 kWh/year, the solar panels significantly reduce the need for electricity from the grid.

3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen

Cold seawater pumped into the building’s cooling system, almost entirely eliminating the need for electricity to power the cooling cycle.

Innovative aerators have been placed in the taps in kitchens, toilets and showers throughout the building. The low-flow taps reduce water usage. In addition, pipes on the roof capture almost 3,000,000 litres of rainwater annually, which is almost enough to flush the toilets of the entire building without using potable water. Sophisticated solar shades on the building’s facade can be opened and closed to either trap or reflect the sun’s heat.

3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
The roof of the building has been coated with a white, recyclable membrane, made from plant-based materials. The environmentally-friendly coating reflects sunlight and reduces the solar warming of the building.
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen
3XN, UN City, Copenhagen


Architect
: 3XN
Client: FN Byen p.s. (Copenhagen Port & City Development)
Engineer: Orbicon a/s
Landscape: Schønherr
Contractor: Pihl A/S
Interior design: PLH / UN Common Services
Area: 45,000 sqm office and public facilities + 7,000 sqm archives and secondary facilities
Capacity: 1,700 employees
Cost: approx. 134 mio. euro
The project is delivered in two phases: Phase 1 was completed in December 2012 and phase 2 will be completed in December 2013. The official inauguration took place July 4 2013 with the participation of the General Secretary of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon

 

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