​BLOX: Danish Architecture Center’s new home absorbs Copenhagen life

, Architecture

Author: Lynsey Free

Transforming an old brewery site into an open mixed-use facility linking different parts of the city.

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Photo: Lement Guillaume

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Photo: Вelfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

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Photo: Вelfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

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Photo: Вelfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

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Photo: Вelfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

The new home of the Danish Architecture Center (DAC) in Copenhagen has been officially opened to the public following a ceremony by Denmark's Queen Margrethe II.

The complex, known as BLOX, is a mixed-use facility, boasting exhibition spaces, offices, and co-working spaces alongside a bookstore, fitness center, cafe, and restaurant. There are 22 apartments at the site, as well as an underground automated public parking lot. The urban outdoors are part of the landscape, including a partially covered and terraced public space which can be transformed into an open-air cinema acting as a public foyer.

Its plentiful amenities aren't the only things making this structure unique; its location is remarkable unto itself. The building and its endless windows straddle a busy roadway in Copenhagen's Bryghusgrunden (Brewery Site) district, bringing a new energy above unremarkable lanes of concrete and cars.

The area, which once housed brewery buildings that burned in a fire in the 1960s, serves as a connector between the parliament district and the waterfront. BLOX is the newest addition to the neighborhood, which is already home to some of the city's most notable architectural creations.

Dutch architectural firm OMA, which designed the structure, described the building as "absorbing the city's life," in stark contrast to most of Copenhagen's buildings which can be "introverted and inaccessible."

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Photo: Hans Werlemann

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Photo: Hans Werlemann

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Photo: OMA / Adrianne Fisher

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Photo: Hans Werlemann

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Photo: Hans Werlemann

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Photo: Richard John Seymour

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Photo: Вelfino Sisto Legnani and Marco Cappelletti

The building and the city are intertwined, with urban routes throughout the complex leading to "unpredictable interactions" and linking to different museums, libraries, and historical sites. BLOX’s positioning above a major ring road means it was designed to be acoustically isolated from street noise and vibrations, due to a highway bridge construction and high insulation facades.

“BLOX is a building that embraces the infrastructural challenges of its context. By radically intermingling urban functions, we blur the boundaries between the different programs. The DAC is at the heart of the building, surrounded by its objects of study: housing, offices and parking – permanently in flux, connecting various uses and users together, almost by chance," said OMA's Ellen van Loon, who led the project.

Sustainability was a major part of the blueprint, spanning beyond the usual energy, carbon, and resource considerations into the structure’s wider social and economic impacts. One particular challenge was rethinking the building’s mass and facade to align with Denmark’s low energy requirements for buildings.

BLOX was officially opened during the queen’s ceremony on March 4, and the public has been welcomed into the building since May 6. The DAC will be hosting tours of BLOX until October.

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