Between the sky and the ocean
On the edge of Øresund, where the sky meets he ocean behind the Freeport and the Container Terminal lies Copenhagen Municipality’s new soil treatment centre, Soil Centre Copenhagen. It is here millions of cubic metres of dug up soil from construction projects and metro building sites around Copenhagen create new ground for Copenhagen´s new urban area Nordhavn.
The centre employees analyse and handle the contaminated soil, making sure that it is used in an environmentally safe manner. The landscape at Nordhavn is flat and makes for a fascinating and ever changing scenery, giant piles of soil and huge excavations. More than anything, it looks like a rough lunar landscape with left-over building materials and rusty metal parts. To the Northwest of Soil Centre Copenhagen the landscape is contrastingly lush with little green hills, shrubbery and little ponds and lakes fringed with rushes. A wild nature site filled with sounds from birds, swans and mewing seagulls.
It is also here the protected European Green Toad, has made a new home for itself. This has led to a decision to always preserve the area the way it is. With this very unique context Soil Centre Copenhagen grows out of the landscape with its characteristic shape and rusty red facades. The building has a distinctive silhouette against the vast horizon, and the building is simultaneously an integrated part of the landscape and an obviously man-made object.
Completely different spaces in one sculptural form
The sculptural building makes for a protecting boundary between areas trafficked by heavy machinery and the protected nature site, and with its zigzagging shape the building creates spaces that face either towards the soil arrival area or the nature site. The facades are clad in stretch metal made from rusty weathering steel. On the roof tall grass and, in time, even smallish bushes and trees will grow. In this sense the building makes up for the piece of the landscape it has occupied, and will help preserve the natural biodiversity of the area. The weathering steel is protected by a red layer of rust, visually connecting it to the area and the ambitious environmental profile of the building. It offers, besides the beautiful red colour, a robust surface that can withstand the dust and dirt in this harsh environment.
The centre consists of a series of very different spaces and functions, and the shape of the building arose from the particular need for height and spaciousness. The building consists of an office section for employees, laboratories, dressing rooms, two large workshops, garages and storage spaces. At the centre of the building the office section makes for a peaceful oasis with a view of the surroundings through the carefully placed windows, each offering beautifully framed views of the landscape or the waters of Øresund. At the same time, placement of the windows in the facade optimises the use of natural light, so the character and quality of that light becomes an integrated part of the architectural narrative.
A green and luxuriant interior
When you step in through the main entrance you can see right through the building to the nature site behind it. Two large indoor trees, along with the lush plant wall, create a green and delightful internal contrast to the dusty and rough exterior environment. Dressing rooms, laboratories and the office section are all situated in one interior element that almost resembles a huge piece of furniture sitting between the tall concrete walls.
The office section is on the first floor, while dressing rooms and laboratories are on the ground floor. The large number of roof windows shower the building with a pleasant light from above, and along with the facade windows, allows for some very good natural light conditions in the office section. The floor plan encourages interdisciplinary synergy between the centre’s very different departments ranging from engineers to excavator drivers. The materials in the interior are dominated by the raw concrete of the outer walls, walls and fixtures made of plywood, and floors made from bedding mortar.
The first DGNB certified building in Nordhavn
KMC Nordhavn is the first DGNB certified building in Denmark built after the test phase has ended and the very first certified building in Nordhavn. It is a zero energy building, which combines passive and active energy efficiency measures based on an overall view, which encompasses energy efficiency, building materials and social aspects.
The design of the building results in an extremely low energy consumption and the necessary energy is provided using geothermal energy from the many kilometres of piping underneath the black asphalt in front of the building as well as solar panels and solar cells integrated into the slanting roof surfaces.