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UN City \ 3XN

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 08:15 AM PDT

3XN recently has completed the UN City in Copenhagen. 3XN has created the staircase as a dramatic spatial sculpture, which is to be seen as a symbol of the UN’s work to create dialogue, interaction and positive encounters between people in all parts of the world.

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courtesy 3XN

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courtesy 3XN

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courtesy 3XN

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courtesy 3XN

+ Description from 3XN

The new regional head office of the United Nations is designed with clear references to the UN's identity and values: It is a building that physically reaches out to all parts the world, while the sculptural staircase in its core reflects the UN's work to create global dialogue.

Delivering as One

Bringing together the various agencies and functions of the United Nations regional offices in Copenhagen, the new UN City is located at Marmormolen (The Marble Pier) north of Copenhagen's city center. 3XN's design is a response to the UN's wishes for an iconic building expressing the organization's values and authority. More specifically, the design reflects the independent, efficient and professional nature of each UN unit, while at the same time clearly rooted in a mutual set of values – Delivering as One.

Located on an artificial island the building is naturally separated from its immediate surroundings, while still being highly visible from both the city and the water.

The Star

From above, the eight-pointed star shape is a clear visual reference point, which, like the UN, reaches out to all corners of the world. Similar to the surrounding rusty pier edges, the UN city has a dark burnished steel base from which the white main building rises. This is a reference to the elegant white ships that characterize this part of the Copenhagen harbor.

The building has a façade cladding of white perforated aluminum shutters, developed by 3XN and contractor Pihl specifically for the UN City. The shutters ensure solar shading without blocking the view or the daylight. Since the facade is divided into three meter long modules, it is possible for the employees to control the sunshade from their computers. The result is an improved indoor environment, and a dynamic façade expressing a building full of life.

From the core of the star-shaped building, a daylight filled atrium connects the lobby level containing all common functions, with the office levels, where the various UN agencies are distributed.

From the atrium a central staircase binds all levels together. 3XN has created the staircase as a dramatic spatial sculpture, which is to be seen as a symbol of the UN’s work to create dialogue, interaction and positive encounters between people in all parts of the world. In the daily life, the sculptural form inspires the UN employees to want to use the stairs, and thus the staircase also forms the basis for dialogue, cooperation and informal meetings between the various UN organizations.


All office levels are characterized by an open and flexible layout encouraging knowledge sharing and interaction as well as individual immersion. Work stations are ensured plenty of high quality daylight and a good indoor climate. The working environment is further improved by an overall health policy including green recreational areas and a number of sustainable features including:

Air quality – The building has been designed to limit the use of chemicals and pollutants during both its construction and its use. The building is entirely ventilated with filtered outside air. This ensures that only clean, fresh air is present in the building and helps balance the interior humidity level.

Solar panels – More than 1,400 solar panels are lining the roof of the building to support the goal of generating renewable energy onsite. With an estimated total production of 297,000 kWh/year, the solar panels significantly reduce the need for electricity from the grid.

Sea water cooling – Cold seawater pumped into the building's cooling system, almost entirely eliminating the need for electricity to power the cooling cycle.

Water efficiency – Innovative aerators have been placed in the taps in kitchens, toilets and showers throughout the building. The low-flow taps reduce water usage. In addition, pipes on the roof capture almost 3,000,000 litres of rainwater annually, which is almost enough to flush the toilets of the entire building without using potable water.

Solar shades – Sophisticated solar shades on the building's facade can be opened and closed to either trap or reflect the sun's heat.

Reflective roofs – The roof of the building has been coated with a white, recyclable membrane, made from plant-based materials. The environmentally-friendly coating reflects sunlight and reduces the solar warming of the building.

The UN City is expected to become one of Denmark's most energy efficient buildings with an annual energy consumption of less than 50 KwH per m2 (Danish Energy Class 1). The UN City is registered with the LEED sustainability ratings system with the certification goal of LEED® Platinum. UN City has been awarded the prestigious GreenBuilding Award 2012 by the European Commission.

+ Project Data

The project is delivered in two phases: Phase 1 was completed in December 2012 and phase 2 will be completed in December 2013. The official inauguration took place July 4 2013 with the participation of the General Secretary of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon.

Client: FN Byen p.s. (Copenhagen Port & City Development)
Architect: 3XN
Engineer: Orbicon a/s
Landscape: Schønherr
Contractor: Pihl A/S
Interior Design: PLH / UN Common Services
Size: 45,000 m2 office and public facilities + 7,000 m2 archives and secondary facilities
Capacity: 1700 employees
Budget: Approx. 134 mio. EURO

Innovative copper staircase goes beyond the limits of design

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 07:05 AM PDT

The project was designed and completed in close collaboration with Design Architect STUDIO MISHIN Architectural Bureau’s Sergey Mishin and Katya Larina and Technical Architects Daniel Llofriu Pou, Alberto Arguimbau. Arup has created a unique three dimensional and perforated copper staircase, specifically designed as the central staircase of "Villa Mallorca" project, pushing the limitations of geometry and materials. The multi-faceted architectural application of copper including lighting scenarios to highlight the design.

Our general design approach for all new projects is to discover what is unique about a project and try to further enhance those unique qualities in a beautiful way. Light reveals materials and plays a key role in creating an atmosphere, and this project was an interesting challenge on both levels.

Emily Dufner, Arup's Lighting Design Leader for Germany

Villa Mallorca4C Quintin Lake Photography 600x400 Innovative copper staircase goes beyond the limits of design

courtesy Arup

Villa Mallorca3C Quintin Lake Photography 600x900 Innovative copper staircase goes beyond the limits of design

courtesy Arup

Villa Mallorca2C Quintin Lake Photography 600x424 Innovative copper staircase goes beyond the limits of design

courtesy Arup

Villa Mallorca1C Quintin Lake Photography 600x900 Innovative copper staircase goes beyond the limits of design

courtesy Arup

Created to complete "Villa Mallorca", a building project located in the south of Spain, the state of the art structure consists of an illuminated sculpture made out of perforated continuous folded copper with no visible fixings.

In early 2010, Studio Mishin contacted Arup. At this point the villa was largely complete but still needed a central staircase. Spanning three floors, the architect's vision consisted of an imposing staircase that lies at the central heart of the building and creates a visual link by the use of perforated copper panels throughout the interior and exterior of the building.

Specialist advice was necessary to finish the detail design, engineering and construction of this unique proposal. Arup´s Materials Consulting and Lighting Design´s teams in Berlin began to work on the practicality of realising and building the copper cladding.

Through an on-going dialogue between the architect, contractor and supplier, the team translated the challenging design into a feasible solution; identifying at an early stage that lighting design was required to provide both functional and decorative lighting design as the existing wall lighting would not be sufficient.

The development of the perforated timber-copper sandwich panels required close collaboration with the manufacturers and a series of samples and full scale mock-ups were essential to develop a solution which was technically feasible and supported the design intent of a seamless and continuous copper skin. The detailed design of the complex structure is based on a limited set of panel types and interface geometries to allow for a consistent appearance and an efficient procurement. The installation is sequenced in such a way that the structural panels interlock with each other and a delicate substructure to minimize visible connections.

Jan Wurm, Arup’s Materials Practice Leader for Europe

The lighting design accentuates the geometry of the perforations of the copper panels through backlighting, with dramatic lighting from above to reveal the texture and material properties of the copper and laminated wood. An innovative approach to both maintenance and construction for the lighting elements was also a critical element of the success of the project.

The result is a clad with almost 200m² of composite panel, including treated copper, bonded and structural timber with approximately 12,000 perforations made by a CNC water jet cutter.

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