Kengo Kuma wins competition for Danish Water Culture Center as Copenhagen's cultural masterplan takes shape

Kengo Kuma’s extensive pipeline of public projects just got even longer, with his firm winning an international competition to design an aquatics centre on an artificial quay in Copenhagen’s harbour.

The municipality has selected Kengo Kuma Associates to create the 5,000sq m (53,800sq ft) Danish Water Culture Center, ahead of four other shortlisted teams – BIG, 3XN Architects, AART Architects and ALA Architects.

The project will be built on Christiansholm Island, one of the last undeveloped areas along the city’s waterfront. It has been used over the past 50 years by the Danish press for newspaper storage, inspiring the nickname ‘Paper Island’.

The Water Culture Centre, scheduled to open in 2021, will feature outdoor and indoor pools, waterfalls, harbour baths and sports facilities.

Kuma’s design envisions the building as having a series of pyramid-shaped roofs, with an open-air pool passing through the gaps between them. Skylights will create dramatic plays of light and shadow reflecting off the water below.

The complex will be largely built with brick, and earthy tones will be used to evoke traditional Danish craftsmanship.

Associate architects Cornelius + Vöge Aps, engineering firm Søren Jensen and consulting architect Niels Sigsgaard are collaborating on the project.

Reflecting on the choice of design team, Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen said: “Sometimes you need to look far and wide to find exactly what you are looking for.

"There's no doubt that Kengo Kuma’s vision for a waterfront cultural centre is world class and that it will bring something completely new to Copenhagen but will also fit in with the aesthetic of the city.”

The Danish Water Culture Center is part of a wider masterplan for Paper Island created by architecture firm COBE.

Their vision is to replace the area’s industrial warehouses with informal public buildings, also including an art gallery and an events hall. These will be encircled by an intimate green courtyard and the whole island will be flanked by a unifying public promenade.

“Our vision for the island’s future is to create a place that celebrates the city’s culture and the Copenhagen way of life,” said COBE creative director Dan Stubbergaard last year.

“It was important for us that Christiansholm, also in future, will be a first-class example of Copenhagen’s generous urban living that can attract tourists and visitors and at the same time has a strong local presence.”

This is not Kuma’s only forthcoming project in Denmark. The Japanese architect is also working on a fairytale-themed museum dedicated to the life and work of author Hans Christian Andersen in Odense.

Elsewhere around the world, his projects include a contemporary art museum in Turkey, the V&A Dundee design museum in Scotland, a tourist centre on the banks of Yangcheng Lake in China, and Tokyo’s National Olympic Stadium in Japan.

Kuma, who has previously told CLADglobal about the importance of public projects to his firm, recently featured in a video produced by Plane-Site to explain how his philosophy has developed over his long career.

Kengo Kuma  Danish Water Culture Center  Denmark  Copenhagen  COBE  Cornelius + Vöge Aps  Niels Sigsgaard  Paper Island  Frank Jensen 
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Kengo Kuma’s extensive pipeline of public projects just got even longer, with his firm winning an international competition to design an aquatics centre on an artificial quay in Copenhagen’s harbour. The municipality has selected Kengo Kuma Associates to create the 5,000sq m (53,800sq ft) Danish Water Culture Center, ahead of four other shortlisted teams – BIG, 3XN Architects, AART Architects and ALA Architects. The project will be built on Christiansholm
SAR,WAT,VAT,HAM,ARC,DES,CLD
The Water Culture Centre, scheduled to open in 2021, will feature outdoor and indoor pools, waterfalls, harbour baths and sports facilities / Kengo Kuma and Luxigon
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