Project team:

Client: The National Aquarium trust / Real Dania
Architects: 3XN, Copenhagen
Lighting design: Jesper Kongshaug, Copenhagen
Facade construction: Kai Andersen A/S


Products applied:

Coemar (LED spotlights and lighting systems); Rosco (water effects); Fagerhult (offices); Roblon (fibre optics); Simes (outdoor lighting and bollards)

22. Oct 2013

The Blue Planet Aquarium in Copenhagen/DK

Text: Jesper Kongshaug, Sonja Kiekens
Photos: Adam Mørk

When summer slowly turns to autumn there is nothing finer than to stand outside with your eyes closed and absorb the last rays of summer sunshine, immersing yourself in the experience from head to toe, floating somewhere between heaven and earth – but with both feet firmly on the ground. Capturing this immaterial quality of light and rendering it perceptible was the least Jesper Kongshaug aimed to achieve when designing the lighting for the largest and most modern public aquarium facility in Northern Europe. The Blue Planet (Blå Planet) in Copenhagen opened in March this year and has been drawn overwhelming crowds ever since through its lit underwater environments and foreign worlds.

The new National Aquarium is situated on Amager Island on the Sound in Copenhagen Harbour. The spectacular building, designed by 3XN Architects, is inspired by nature – from shoals of fish to tornadoes to the movement of star galaxies. The building reflects the sky and sea, and blends organic architecture with elegant aquarium environments, providing a unique insight into the fascinating wildlife in the north to the tropical oceans and the Amazon rainforests. Blue Planet was designed and realised within three years for a total of 85 million euros.
The swirling forms of the structure are continued inside the building. Visitors are transported, as if on a huge wave, from the main hall past 53 water tanks, a Rain Forest Hall and a 16-metre long tunnel, surrounded on their journey by hammerhead sharks, rays, barracudas and moray eels. The organic architecture guides the viewers through different underwater worlds, revealing breath-taking perspectives of ocean life around our planet. The public aquarium is spread over an area of 10,000 square metres – and houses tanks with 20,000 marine animals. Sea lions cavort on a 5,000 square metre compound outside with puffins diving off the cliffs in the “Faroe Islands” exhibition area, all of which can be viewed from inside. The restaurant also serves fish and seafood, of course, but for those who do feel like eating, there is always the chance to experience the fish literally hands-on in the “touch pool”.
The Blue Planet is filled with exciting and surprising tales of life in the water and provides excitement and food for thought. The immersive environments are both informative and entertaining – the stories are told through dedicated narrators, digital platforms, interactive displays and exhibits, and further supported by fish feeding times and a mass of personal experiences.
Light is an important parameter for experiencing both the architecture and the wildlife and played a key role in the project at competition stage. The comissioning process took four years. Inspired by a water theme Jesper Kongshaug had created for a performance of “Operation Orfeo” for Hotel Pro Forma, 3XN invited the Danish lighting designer to design the lighting. […]

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 90
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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