Even when still outside, visitors to Denmark’s new national aquarium are offered an extraordinary sensory experience. Replacing the former aquarium inaugurated in 1939, a few months before the outbreak of the Second World War, the complex employs the latest interactivity, AV and communications technology to recreate the different marine environments. Catering for a broad public, it aims to give first-hand knowledge of aquatic life in oceans, rivers and lakes. The exhibition is laid out along multiple routes, offering visitors a wide choice of what to see.
Architecturally, the building’s contours both externally and internally are powerfully evocative and symbolic, inviting a variety of interpretations. Abstraction and naturalism sit side-by-side in this highly distinctive yet functional structure made up of a series of crisscrossing planes.
The sleek reinforced concrete and steel frame stretches out against the horizon. Its curving extensions reach out like tentacles, reminiscent of either a great whirlpool or a starfish. Not just a striking design, the building’s shape allows future enlargement of exhibition spaces without having to make major structural alterations.
Dynamic and static features, physical phenomena and aquatic biology here come together in a building where the underwater world is the major player.
The aquarium extends beyond the original coastline. A pipe system takes marine water into the tanks.
A landmark building, it is also near Copenhagen airport and served by transport infrastructure (railway, subway, and motorway) making it a major tourist attraction.
Once beyond the car park, the approaching visitor is given a foretaste of what he will see inside. The building, its long arms splayed out, draws the eye to the horizon on the sea. Fair face concrete outer wall segments are interspersed with stretches clad with 33,000 diamond-shape aluminium shingles - the same as on the roof.
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