“We did something otherwise absolutely forbidden in Copenhagen; we built directly along the water’s edge – in fact the building protrudes out over it", states Ellen van Loon. Indeed, Denmark requires buildings to be set back by six metres from shorelines. OMA found that boring, and packed the extensive room programme consisting of the Danish Architecture Centre, offices, shops and apartments into individual blocks and stacked them one on top of the other. “For us, Danish architecture basically amounts to a multitude of tiny flat-roof boxes with a door."
To reduce the volume of the new building against the backdrop of neighbouring modest yellow houses, the architects successively removed individual pixels. This has resulted in large terraces on the roof for the apartments, and in interesting covered spaces in the plinth.
“Passageways and sightlines through the building connect BLOX with its surroundings. The pixels mediate between the differing scales of the wide harbour basin and the compartmentalised structure of the old quarter. It is impossible for people to stay indifferent as they pass through the building; rather, we designed it in a way that forces them to interact with the architecture.”
The different firms and institutions from fashion and film and other creative industry sectors, not stacked in vertical fashion but organised around the Danish Architecture Centre, are also to interact. The BLOX is an attempt to reinvent not only the mixed-use building type but also the Danish Architecture Centre and its important but previously neglected location in Copenhagen.