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Published: Monday, October 08, 2007

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Royal Danish Embassy, Berlin

"The building is one of contrasts. The mixture of organic shapes and shapes that are sharp; of soft and hard materials, and of hot and cold surfaces accentuates the architectural idea." Says the Architecture firm 3XN Architects about the Royal Danish Embassy, Berlin.

By: 3XN Architects

Architecture-Page | Royal Danish Embassy, Berlin by 3XN Architects
Homogenous skin of perforated steel plates towards Inner Plaza.

Project details

  • Project Name: Royal Danish Embassy, Berlin
  • Client: The Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Project Type: Administration, Public Affairs
  • Architect: 3XN Architects / Kim Herforth Nielsen, Bo Boje Larsen, Kim Christiansen
  • Design Team: Kim Herforth Nielsen with Gerti Axelsen, Lars Kjemtrup, Lars Due Jensen, Helge Skovsted, Jette Schwarz, Lars Povlsen, Mads Posch, Malene E. Knudsen
  • Date of commencement of project: 1996
  • Date of completion of project: 1999
  • Location of site: The Nordic Embassy Complex, Berlin Tiergaten, Berlin, Germany
  • Built-up Area: 2650 sq m
  • Cost of Construction/Execution: € 5,400,000

Words from the architect

The heart of the Danish embassy is a tall lobby, which divides the building into two parts: on one side an undulating, wood-clad wall and on the other a 'stairway to the sky'. This is the fundamental idea upon which we have tried to create a building capable of exuding the dignity required in an embassy while, at the same time, being a place filled with light and life and reflecting the Danish spirit -- the very qualities which make this building an interesting and beautiful workplace.

The external boundaries of the embassy were dictated by the earlier competition on the overall embassy complex. Winners were two Austrian-Finnish architects, Berger and Parkkinen, who used a gently undulating copper band to unite the five Nordic embassies of Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark, and a pan-Nordic Centre.

The embassy consists of two elements that follow the outer limits of the site assigned to the building, separated by a tall, glazed-over panoptic lobby area.

The undulating element

One element loyally follows the undulations of the copper band, thereby allowing anyone inside the building to recognize the characteristic movements of the external shape of the complex. The Danish embassy is the only building to reflect the external, organic shape of the complex. The shape is divided into copper bands that are horizontally adjustable across the embassy windows to allow a look out and light to come in.

Inside the lobby, a transparent screen of wooden louvers that runs parallel to the western part of the building recaptures the undulating shape. Due to the slight inward tilt of the screen, the lobby becomes narrower the higher towards the ceiling you get, and this intensifies the tension between the two 'heavy' buildings.

The lobby - the panoptic room

The lobby is traversed by bridges, and they are crossed many times every day by embassy staff going back and forth between offices. Every crossing gives this slightly titillating, three-dimensional experience of the four-storey tall room, and in the same manner, the traffic going back and forth behind the flickering louvers of the wooden screen provides a fine illustration of the dynamics of the building. On the bridges, visitors may linger for a while, as if floating freely in the room.

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