Dramatic new building puts small Danish town on the architectural map
3XN’s dramatic design for Middelfart Savings Bank attempts to capture the Bank’s high ambitions for their new head office. To do this, the building had to create a perfect environment for the employees along with positively stressing demands for high architectural quality on the developing harbour front. The extreme roof covering acts as a focus point for the building – a large, elegant wooden structure with numerous openings.
The 83 prism like skylights compose the remarkable roof surface, defining the geometry of the rest of the building – in reference to the maritime environment on the harbour front as well as the surrounding timber framed buildings. The roof is designed to frame a perfect view towards the Lillebælt waters, as well as a functional purpose of shading from direct sunlight. The openings in the roof bring in abundant amounts of daylight and allow sea views from all places throughout the building. It is hoped that this will create the desired light and friendly atmosphere for the workers in the bank. Under the roof, different functions including a bookshop, a café, a real estate agent and the cash desk are placed around a central plaza, resulting in the building forming an informal public meeting space.
The new building is designed to carefully fit into its context. To one side, the village is respected by following dimensions, scale and the shape of the roof. Towards the harbour the building retracts and makes way for a new, triangular space that opens for the view. The rest of the Bank’s area is spread over a series of terraces with open connections to the plaza – and to each other. The terraces are connected by spacious staircases that will provide good opportunities for the informal meetings. With its central position, it is hoped that the building will become a natural meeting point for clients, staff and visitors.
Energy efficient heating and cooling systems, developed through the Danish Technical University, have been implemented in Middelfart Savings Bank. The method utilizes the mass and ability of concrete to adjust the room temperature by absorbing and releasing heat. The method is based upon pre-fabricated concrete decks with embedded plastic pipes. The system is partly self-regulating as water for heating and/or cooling is circulated with a temperature only a few degrees from the desired room temperature, which is the key to the large energy savings. In addition to energy savings, the capital costs are lower due to the reduced needs for cooling and heating.
Internationally renowned artist Olafur Eliasson has created an art installation for the plaza. Six ‘shooting star’ kaleidoscopes inspired by the triangular geometry of the building are to be lowered into the ground floor granite, to add an extra dimension to the structure.