A swirling mass of twinkling metal on the coast of Øresund, Copenhagen is due to open on 21 March. Designed by local firm 3XN, the inventive practice behind the Bella Sky Hotel and Middelfart Savings Bank, The Blue Planet is an 11,000 sq m complex that holds the title of the largest aquarium in Northern Europe.
With 9,000 sq m of interior space and outdoor facilities totalling 2,000 sq m, the aquarium combines elements of land and sea to provide an all-encompassing experience for its eager visitors. This experience begins at the entrance with the building’s metallic form curving inwards, welcoming visitors inside in a motion which mirrors that of a whirlpool, enfolding guests into its swirling depths.
3XN says of its concept: “Designing The Blue Planet we wanted to stage a totality of the experience one has visiting an aquarium. The starting point was this magnificent experience of actually watching fish in their element. We wanted to create that adventurous feeling, and we took inspiration in the natural phenomenon of the whirlpool or maelstrom drawing you into the deep.”
The design of The Blue Planet is such that visitors are encouraged to succumb to the full experience, imagining that they are fully submerged beneath the waves. A glassy roof to the main lobby acts as the surface of the sea, casting shimmering patterns of light across the floor of the entrance as if the sunlight has been refracted by the ocean above.
Once in The Round Room, visitors are greeted with a number of options. Each display space within the aquarium leads off this central volume and ‘visitors choose which river, lake or ocean to explore’.
This fluid motion is not confined to the interiors, with 3XN furthering: “In the landscape, the great whirlpool continues through the terrain, the pools and the sea surrounding the building. Like watery currents, the building is not static - the movement continues into the future by virtue of always allowing possible extensions to add more, simply by letting the lines of the whirlpool grow further out.”
The main contributors to The Blue Planet are Realdania, Knud Højgaard’s Fond, Tårnby Municipality as well as Her Majesty Queen Margrethe and His Royal Highness Prince Henrik’s Fund. The building will be inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Margrethe on 21 March 2013.