Great Dane: Copenhagen’s largest wooden commercial building

Danish architect Henning Larsen has unveiled a giant timber construction that embeds carbon instead of emitting it. Is this the start of a new sustainability trend to wooden offices?

The design of Marmormolen – a large timber building in Copenhagen –  has been unveiled by Danish architect Henning Larsen as a symbol of sustainable leadership.

The 28,000 sq metre, eight-storey, multi-user commercial building for the Danish pension fund AP Pension promises to be one of the largest contemporary wood structures in Denmark. Marmormolen combines office, retail, and public space on the Nordhavn waterfront, as well as featuring a green plaza, rooftop gardens, promenades, and a waterfront park.

Testing ground

At the start of the millennium, Copenhagen’s Nordhavn district was still a primarily industrial neighbourhood. In the years since, the area has been converted into a vibrant waterfront area and become a testing ground for prototyping innovations, such as self-driving buses and buildings made of recycled bricks.

The new Henning Larsen project follows this same ethos, with sustainability a prime feature. This is reflected by the building structure, which will be entirely wooden.

As the environmental case against concrete construction grows stronger, solid timber is emerging high up on the list of sustainable alternatives. In stark contrast to concrete, timber stores embodied carbon, notes Henning Larsen. So, by swapping out the structural concrete with timber, the structure will embed tons of carbon instead of emitting tons.

According to the architect, Marmormolen is a suitable location for a large-scale modern workspace concept, benefiting as it does from nearby shops, restaurants and public transportation.

Situated on the waterfront, the building will be surrounded by green urban space on three out of four sides, between a green plaza to the south and a future waterfront park.

Designed to fit into the urban context, the building rises to its full eight storeys towards a busy street and train tracks, and steps down to three storeys towards the neighbouring housing on the opposite side. But even though the building is one large volume, it will be divided into smaller cubes able to give expression to the different tenants.

Each cube will have its own rooftop, for example, featuring terraces and gardens that support biodiversity, beehives, butterfly hotels, and vegetable production for the canteen.

A marketplace for ideas

Unlike many closed office environments, Marmormolen is conceived as a marketplace for ideas, with the ground floor acting as an open and flexible extension of the public waterfront adjacent to the building.

Inside, the ground level will hold amenities for the tenants, such as a large cantina and auditorium, which will double as a public eatery and venue for theatres, flea markets and other events. On upper levels, workplaces will offer uninterrupted views of the sea and skyline of Copenhagen.

The WORKTECH Copenhagen 2021 conference took place on 6 October and looked at new strategies future workplaces. Read about the event here.

Andrew Sansom is editorial director of SALUS Global Knowledge Exchange. Salus is a content partner of WORKTECH Academy.
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