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.
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.
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.
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.
Client: FN Byen p.s. (Copenhagen Port & City Development)
Engineer: Orbicon a/s
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