As with any long established city, many of the buildings in the parts of central Copenhagen that we explored have been around a long time. The majority of the buildings were pre-21st Century, many from the 19th and early 20th Century with some dating from the 1600’s. But as with any vibrant metropolis there have been new developments and we saw some excellent modern buildings around the city centre.
The Royal Danish Playhouse
Our hotel was at the end of Sankt Annæ Plads, facing the old harbour. At the end of the street the Royal Danish Playhouse, a striking modern building sits on the harbour side near to Nyhaven, the old harbour t hat’s popular with tourists.
Designed by the Danish architectural practice Lundgaard & Tranberg, construction started in October 2004 and it was inaugurated in February 2008 with a performance of Hamlet.
The dominant features are the glass “attic” which runs around the building and house staff facilities such as administration offices, costumes, artist dressing rooms, a library and a staff canteen, the large glass fronted lobby and outdoor oak decking which sits over the water and the huge copper clad cube that sits on top of the structure – which is the visible part of the auditoria.
The lobby is open to the public and we ate in the excellent restaurant one evening. Outside on the decking there’s an outdoor bar and seating area which was a pleasant place to take a drink as the sun was setting in the evening
The Opera House
The modern opera house sits on the island of Holmen, on the opposite side of the water from the Amalienborg palace and across from the Playhouse. It was designed by Henning Larsen Architects and constructed during 2004
It sits on the historical axis running from Marmorkirken (the Marble Church) and Amalienborg. It’s a massive building with 14 storeys, five of which are below ground and contains more than 1,000 rooms. The dominant features are the enormous roof, which is 158 metres long and 90 metres wide and the glass front. The facade is clad with the limestone from South Germany.
It’s quite a long trek to get to it overland, so the best way to reach it is by the waterbus which stops in front of it. As well as he scheduled services there’s a shuttle boat that runs between the Playhouse and the Opera House.
There are guided tours in English during the afternoon in the summer months. We went over to try to join one but, unfortunately, hadn’t read the advert properly as when we got there we discovered that they had been suspended during the week of our visit as there was an International double bass convention taking place (yes, there is such a thing). However we did manage to get a peek inside and could see the massive maple clad auditorium, which looked like a giant hazel nut. The floor is clad in marble and theatre some very effective luminaires hanging from the ceiling. Although we didn’t see this for ourselves, the ceiling of the main auditorium is covered with 24-carat gold leaf.
I didn’t manage to take any photos inside, but these are from the Danish Architecture Guide website.
The Black Diamond
This is an extension to the Royal Library, the Danish equivalent of the British Library, which was completed in 1999. Designed by Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen, Architects and built in steel, glass and black granite, it’s a very modern addition to an older, traditional style building. I’m sure our Prince Charles wouldn’t approve – but I don’t think much of his views on architecture.
The name “Black Diamond” comes from the highly polished black marble that covers the facade of the building.
The building has a relatively simple shape; a tilted cuboid that leans out over the Sound reflecting the water and passing boats. It’s split into two parts joined by a glass fronted atrium which houses most of the public functions and which provides a view over the water front.
Inside the atrium (Source: Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen, Architects)
The best view is gained from the water (I took these photos during our boat trip) or the opposite side of the Sound.
Look closely, and you can see our tour boat reflected in the glass.
As well as the library, the building houses The National Museum of Photography, exhibition space, a bookshop, a café, a restaurant and the Dronningesalen concert hall.
Danish National Bank
This relatively simple building, completed in 1971, was designed by Arne Jacobson, who was a renowned Danish designer. I think that it’s much more attractive than many buildings constructed around that time.
The lower storey and the two gable ends are covered with Greenland marble, the other two sides with dark tinted glass. The sides are divided into a number of narrow rectangular sections, which break up what could otherwise be monotonous curtain walls.
There are some photographs of the interior and the garden on the Bank’s website, here.
Jacobson also designed the Modernist Radisson Blu Royal Hotel (formerly the SAS Royal Hotel), near the main railway station, which was completed in 1960. It’s quite controversial both for the design and also because it’s the only real high rise buildings in the city centre.
(picture source: Wikipedia)
Personally, I think it’s rather non-descript, as it’s like so many other buildings – office and residential tower blocks – that can be seen in cities throughout Europe.