The architectural intent was to create a sustainable landmark, in dialogue with the city and university in a new and open way. The new complex is also intended to act as a catalyst for positive urban development in its immediate neighbourhood and the entire city. The 15-storey tower rests on a series of smaller buildings containing the common functions: three auditoriums, classrooms, canteen, show lab, conference rooms and book café.
A GREEN SOCIAL HUB FOR THE CAMPUS
The most striking part of this level is the extensive science plaza, which will form the new social hub of the Panum Institute and the University of Copenhagen’s Nørre Campus as a whole. It accommodates the main entrance and links all functions across the complex. A new public campus park will be established, offering outdoor study and recreation spaces for researchers and students, as well as new natural spaces for all the residents of Nørrebro, together with a 300 metre aerial path. The public will also be invited to visit the top of the tower with a café, lounge and viewing points.
The new 42,700 m2 building houses state of the art facilities for research and teaching of health and medical sciences. Most levels are devoted to advanced research and the building is therefore designed to be completely stable. Its concrete core is cast in situ, so that the vibrations from the city’s life do not disturb research activities on the different levels. The building is also one of Denmark’s most energy-efficient laboratory buildings and reuses waste energy, with climate-friendly remote cooling, reuse of rainwater for sanitary purposes and irrigation, and 1,500m2 of solar cells.
DEVELOPING THE DESIGN
The urban setting and lines of sight across the locality were key factors in shaping the Mærsk Building. The triangular footprint derived from angles of the adjacent streets and the shape presents its narrowest gable towards the slender spire of a nearby church. This orientation also contributes to the energy efficiency of the building by reducing south exposure and thus solar gain.
The masterplan creates an easily legible composition on the site – a star shape, enabling the complex to be constructed in phases, leaving room for further future extensions that may not yet have been defined. The star shape also creates a series of lively urban spaces closely related to the surrounding buildings and includes the local neighbourhood by providing green space as well as public pathways across the site – all for the common good.
AN ANIMATED COPPER GRID
The science tower’s exterior appearance enters into a dialogue with the existing Panum complex and the surrounding buildings, where red brick dominates. The facade is built up in the form of a grid comprising storey-height window fields that break up the building’s large scale. The storey-height bands are fitted with over 3,000 vertical copper fins. The choice of copper on this prominent building anticipates the natural changes that will occur, starting with shiny and developing to dark brown, with a green copper patina only after many years.
A third of the fins move, enabling the facade to constantly change character as they open and close, responding to the sun’s path around the building. When activated, each section splits in two with one half remaining static while the other half slides in front of the window glass, providing efficient protection against heat gain into the laboratories. This helps to ensure that the building achieves a ‘low-energy class 2015’ rating. It also adds to the building’s sustainability credentials, alongside the choice of copper as an exceptionally long-life material that will eventually be recycled.
Architect and Partner Mads Mandrup explains the architectural concept for The Mærsk Tower in this video.