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Architectural Spotlight

Marmormolen: The Marble Warf

The handshake across the harbour

The handshake across the harbour

The City of Copenhagen has been working on a master plan to redevelop its port area and create and attractive neighbourhood between Amerika Plads and Nordhavnen. The project is called Marmormolen, or the Marble Wharf. It is a comprehensive plan to give the quarter of Østerbro access to the harbour and to the waterfront.

The project is made up of three islands, this will add approximately 1.3 kilometres to the length of the whole wharf system. A major tenant of the plan is to create a bridge will connect Østerbro and the new neighbourhood. What is most interesting about this particular bridge is the scale. The plan calls for a monumental structure that is both a bridge and also a town gate, creating an easily identifiable entry point to the city on a monumental scale that measures up to the size of the ships and cruise boats that will pass through it.

Two compact towers with the pedestrian link

Two compact towers with the pedestrian link

The proposal at night

The proposal at night

The master plan for the area was put together by 3XN and lays out the general guidelines and design goals in a manor specific enough to properly direct growth, but at the same time also leaves creative licence for the developers of the individual parcels to create a diverse and lively architectural environment.

The winner of the competition for the bridge structure was the office of Steven Holl Architects.

The jury was convinced by the compact towers adapted to the harbour environment and the bridge being “like a handshake across the harbour”.

The winning project is characterized by two spectacular and robust towers – one at Marmormolen and one at Langelinie. The towers are connected by a delicate pedestrian bridge that, according to the jury, resembles “a handshake” between the points of the two wharves. The jury finds the expression of the suggested plan “exclusive” and notices that it is also open for facilities appealing to the public, e.g. terraces, restaurants and, of course, walks on the spectacular pedestrian bridge connecting the two areas.S

As a planner and an urbanite, or maybe just as an urban romantic I feel that to an extent right now there has been a lack of truly monumental structures being built, there are a number of starchitect buildings being done and a number of large projects, but in terms of things like town gates, visual focal points, and monuments are in short supply. Of course an economic recession may not be the time to build these projects, but none the less Copenhagen is building one of these monumental structures so we have an opportunity to create one. While the proposal that the jury selected is a dynamic proposal and there are very few examples of buildings of this scope, to a certain extent it doesn’t quite go far enough. The project still appears to the eye as two separate buildings with a bridge connecting them.

The 3XN Proposal

The 3XN Proposal

3XN was nice enough to send us their proposal for the Marmormolen City Gate, when considered from afar, the 3XN harbour gate proposal satisfies the urge for a true monument or gate more completely.. in my opinion at least.  A bridge structure between two buildings isn’t all that revolutionary, while the span is longer then examples like the Petronas Towers or other commercial buildings with sky-walks or bridge links, it isn’t that surprising or unique. The 3XN proposal for the Marmormolen project in Copenhagen appears as a single structure that flows from one side of the harbour to the other rather then as two separate buildings with a bridge between them, something that we haven’t really seen before.

A bridge spanning a body of deep water, providing the only dry connection between two stretches of land, is one of the most powerful architectural experiences in the landscape. Another classical element is the town gate, which marks the boundary between the countryside and the town, and ‘contains’ the town, physically, structurally and aesthetically.

3XN’s proposal for a construction on Marmormolen in Copenhagen is both: a town gate and a bridge that links Marmormolen with Langeliniekaj, creating a new coherent area in Copenhagen Harbor.

The towers and the bridge constitute one single, floating dynamic movement, characterized by the bold span across the harbor entrance in terms of both the plan design and the facade. Establishing a connection across the harbor radically improves public access and creates brand new opportunities for life and growth in the area.

Write up furnished by 3XN.


The #XN proposal as seen from the ocean

The #XN proposal as seen from the ocean

The 3XN plan view

The 3XN plan view

Of course often it comes down to a matter of opinion, so what’s yours?

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Photos on flickr

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