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BELLA SKY HOTEL Copenhagen, Denmark designed by 3xn | 2011 Kyle Baumgardner Elliot Mistur Jenni Wilga Rensselaer Case Studies Project



Buildings embody cultural knowledge. They are testament to the will and forces that affect their conception, realization, use and experience. They bear cultural and professional significance and possess within them and their constituent components important lessons for anyone wanting to discover what a work of architecture is in its larger context, what brought it about, and how it contributes to an ever evolving architectural and cultural discourse. As Emeritus Professor Peter Parsons points out, “their [building] forms and spaces are invested with traces of habitation and beliefs through the employment of materials wrought by craft and technology.� They are manifestos of habituated practice and progressive intentions, and range in their influence from reinforcing obsolete patterns and meanings at one extreme, to innovating and provoking yet unconsidered ones, at the other. They are beholden to the methods of their conceiving and development, and owe, at least in part, their aspirations to cultural preoccupations and priorities. The Rensselaer Case Studies project examines contemporary works of architects in relation to what influenced them, and seeks to expose innovations in thinking, technique and technology that contribute to architectural knowledge, scholarship and progress in contemporary practice. The project is designed to reveal the technological and cultural knowledge embedded within each selected project through questioning and analysis, probed through the dis- and re-assembly of drawings and models to uncover the larger significance of the artifact, and how it came to be

Mark Mistur, AIA Associate Professor Katelynn Russell, Assistant

Rensselaer School of Architecture Troy, New York Š 2011 Kyle Baumgardner, Elliot Mistur, Jenni Wilga and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Kim Nielsen Jesper MalmkjĂŚr Jack Renteria Diddie Pedersen Laura Wagner and The 3xn Team

Kyle Baumgardner Elliot Mistur Jenni Wilga Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Fall 2011






Danish Contextual Influence Copenhagen Design Culture The Greater Site and Ørestad



The 3 x Nielsens Gxn Research Practice Philosophy of Design Approaches Professional Influences



External Precedents Internal Development



The Client Design Decisions



Project Features Construction Realization








Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen 2011

dozens of modern (and well known) architectural projects constructed

are leaning and faceted for an extremely dynamic program and

Denmark’s design culture is among the most influential in the world and is a driving identity for their nation, while Copenhagen is unmistakably the center. The Bella Center is a large international convention center for design, fashion, and innovation events and marketing. The clients are often well renowned and Copenhagen is always striving to gain traction internationally, so the center wanted a new international beacon and attractive destination.

within a very short distance.

performance in relationship to facade and allows the rooms to have views unobstructed by the opposite tower.

3xn took on the Bella Sky Hotel project, in Copenhagen, Denmark, at the request of the Bella Center in order to realize this new beacon. The building was developed in order to provide an iconic identity as an international destination for the Bella Center and to provide 800 hotel rooms with correlating facilities and public spaces for interaction, serving primarily to support the weekly conferences in the Bella Center.

The two iconic towers connected by two bridges, each sitting on a faceting base connecting to the surroundings with respective entrances, are developed to camouflage their scale and individual construction characteristics through the facade patterning. One of the reasons for two towers is also in order to achieve the 800 room goal with single loaded corridors for easy window access for each room. The pattern is developed in relationship to the overall form and the rooms within so that spandrels and the actual facade panels are invisible as they are masked and blend with the overall building. The patterning is also informed by room arrangements so that each room has the same ratio of open glass to floor space. Both towers

The building is adjacent and connected to the Bella Center in southern Copenhagen in the new town sector, Ørestad, which was planned 15 years ago. Many consider it a failed masterplan as it is still struggling to find an identity, life, and a realized urban fabric, even though there are

The specific site where the building sits is split by the major highway connecting from western Denmark to the highway parallel the metro line both of which intersect 200 meters from the building entrance at the “Bella Center” metro stop leading into the historic downtown. These connections are a part of the reason for the two towers split by the road and the form of the building.

The public spaces are developed with the user and “human behavior shaped by architecture” in mind. The tropes of the facade are also continued within the building in the detailing of light fixtures, wall hangings, and furniture. This is an example of the Danish design culture shown in 3xn’s work. The building is designed with very pragmatic concepts and realization, which lends to an extremely functional, minimal, simple, elegant building in concept, detailing, and design. The adoption of pragmatic requirements as driving design concepts are quintessential.



BENEATH THE SKY contextual influence







COPENHAGEN, DENMARK A NATION OF 5 MILLION Denmark is the southernmost part of Scandinavia, and much of its land is connected to northern Germany as a peninsula. Copenhagen is located on one of the largest islands of Denmark in the Hovedstaden region, one of the eastern most points, with a

considered to be an area of about 988.8 square miles. There are only around 5,000,000 Danish citizens. Because of its location it is a hub and connection for the rest of Scandinavia to Europe. It is widely talked about and considered the art and design center of northern

connecting bridge across the water to Sweden. Denmark consists of a population that is 90.1% Danes, and 9.9% “other�1. Copenhagen is the largest city in Denmark with about 1,662,285 people2 and

Europe, especially Scandinavia. Traditionally children are taught to be independent at young ages, with many entering day care at a few months old. This relates to the 4

fact that women are commonly found in the workplace, and fathers to be the more likely attendant to the children, which is much more common than in most other countries. Because of the women in the workplace the ratio in the 3xn office of men to women includes more women, although similar to most of the international architectural profession none hold high level positions in the firm hierarchy.

Malmo,Sweden Copenhagen, Denmark


This is not to say they are not as well respected or necessarily less important. The design culture of Denmark is not only a part of everyday life and the products used and consumed, but also is part of the government.

to the federal level as they see value in and the necessity of it. There is governmental insurance programs for artists who become unemployed so that they can sustain themselves. There is also a federal stipend for artists of extreme excellence so that they

This demand to design and build, of architects, along with the high population of Danish building architects compared to the country’s overall population results in a very large, like-minded, and competitive field of architects. That is to say although they all develop

This value, ingrained importance, and subsequently available money lends to and influences the architectural practices in Denmark. Danish culture has a love for the arts and design, which extends

can focus on their craft.3 Due to this love for the arts imbedded in the culture there is also a larger budget than in most countries for architectural projects, resulting in opportunities for firms to build.

uniquely there is a high density of architects that started from the same school and built in the same industry (both in Denmark) and now are internationally Competitive.





From 25,000 feet elevation these three images compare Copenhagen, Manhattan (central park), and Rome. Copenhagen is very small and not very dense for a capital city, especially considering it is arguably the culture center for all Scandinavia. Denmark is a country of only 5 million people, which they are proud of and it is extremely important to them to remain an important country in terms of innovation and design internationally. Scandinavia is considered to have a climate of harsh weather and similarly hardy people, descendants from the legendary Vikings. In many ways this is true as even in the southern most place, being Denmark, they have much longer sunlight hours in the short summer than in the long

Mahattan 2.25 miles

Rome 2.25 miles

winter, while they catch sea born rains and Icelandic cold winds. Each culture within Scandinavia is very different and each has great pride in their country; the Danish people are very proactive and voiced about being Danish. They have a very particular culture traditionally in regards to how they conduct themselves, that is their mind-set in relationship to society, and in the social values they live by. The “Jante Law” is a good example. They grant no positive acknowledgment for individual achievement, (although today times and the people are changing, quickly adopting very informal, less harsh attitudes). The more specific points within this “law”, as defined by author Aksel Sanemose, are as follows:


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u ’r e a ny t h i n g s p e c i a l .


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u ’r e a s g o o d a s u s .


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u ’r e s m a r t e r t h a n u s .


D o n’ t c o nv i n c e y o u r s e l f t h a t y o u ’r e b e t t e r t h a n u s .


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u k n o w m o r e t h a n u s .


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u a r e m o r e i m p o r t a n t t h a n u s .


D o n’ t t h i n k y o u a r e g o o d a t a ny t h i n g .


D o n’ t l a u g h a t u s .


D o n’ t t h i n k a ny o n e c a r e s a b o u t y o u .

10 . D o n’ t t h i n k y o u c a n t e a c h u s a ny t h i n g . 4


Copenhagen 2.25 miles 6

Denmark’s political framework consists of a constitutional monarchy with a representative democracy based on a unicameral parliamentary system. The constitutional monarchy, which can be understood as a form of monarchy limited by parameters set by the constitution, acts as the head of state. The Representative democracy is the executive branch of their government that is in charge of making decisions. The parliamentary system serves as the check for the executive branch. Although elections and parliament is often dis-liked and misrepresented, the royal family has a 85-90% national approval rating, which is quite unusual internationally. This is representative of the national contentment rating as well as a semi-socialistic government system that allows for major governmental funding of the arts, design, and architecture. Almost every architectural construction in Denmark is supported and funded one way or another by the state and is developed to benefit the state in return, so there is inherently an ethical quality imbedded within the architectural projects also, to benefit the social good.



to the lack of sun, the aim of many buildings in Denmark is to allow as much light in as possible. Rain is also common and due to the harbor and adjacent canals there is yearly flooding. This is a problem within the city which has not been addressed and backs up sewage

drains along with inconveniencing the city. 3Xn’s basement has recently flooded, affecting stored drawings.

COPENHAGEN 55̊ latitude NEW YORK 40̊ latitude

The weather is temperate and generally cloudy.5 The latitude is quite northern so sunlight hours are less each year than New York. Due

Copenhagen Latitude


“Architecture can get people talking together. Architecture can calm children down in the classroom. Architecture can make passive people more active. Architecture can shape corporate culture.


Architecture can encourage people to find new paths, discover new aspects of their city - and of themselves.� 1 Kim Herforth Nielsen creative director founder



Bike Lanes


Parked Bikes


Christiania Bike

COPENHAGEN TRANSPORTATION A CITY OF BICYCLES Copenhagen is a city with an unmistakable character, attitude, and infrastructure developed for bicycles. Everyone uses them everyday (including through most bad weather) for commuting to work and every day transportation. All roads have incorporated bike lanes with traffic signals as part of the vehicle circulation and vehicle traffic is very accustom to riders as

part of driving. Because the city is small the most of it is within range of an easy pedal and often is faster and easier than public transport or even a private car, all ages choose to bike whenever possible. Daily bicycle traffic is common and every errand is carried out while any attire is worn biking. There is not a second thought, and although there is also the sport, it is simply 10

a different mind set than the USA’s attitude toward biking (for example). This lends to the culture of the city as the people thoroughly enjoy the city, the waterfronts, and public projects that improve their city and quality of life. Everyone is involved and hoping for growing and improving communities and interesting architecture and art. Everyday people are in active

pursuit and admiration of city life activities and destinations as they bike around and are outdoors observing. Although most transportation occurs on bikes, the metro lines are also lifelines for the city. They are designed by a local architecture office and are extremely clean and beautiful stations, as a perfect example of a public project funded by the state for a pleasant architecture. Every station has skylights with prisms to direct light hundreds of feet down into the bottom of the stations and there are highly integrated lighting and paneling systems throughout. They are also kept very clean and functional. There are only two branching metro lines in Copenhagen, which service the main hubs of the city and outskirts, but there is often large distances between stations. This also contributes to bike riding. 15.1

The metro line runs to the Bella Center, with a direct stop, which is a main artery for the Ă˜restad neighborhood. There are also bike lanes running along the busy roads, as everywhere else. The bike ride to the city center is about 20 minutes. The Bella Center is especially dependent on the metro however as the guests do not have bicycles and usually would prefer to ride the metro to the historic downtown rather than bike.

Copenhagen Bicycle Traffic (2006 by copenhagenzine)

Metro Station

11.2 11


Design Week


PUBLICITY OF DESIGN DESIGN INITIATIVES AND PROLIFERATION Copenhagen holds many events that are design related and internationally renowned and visited. During the summer Design week and Fashion week are two of the biggest events. The entire city becomes active with visiting participants and all of the local designers and businesses hold special events within their commercial spaces and studios, so the design business becomes a citywide cultural event. The Bella Center is host to many of these guests and the events so it not only plays a key part in citywide events,

but actually is a force in and of itself feeding the city, and internationally directed business of design culture and initiatives, of course with other conference type events occurring also. The Danish Design Center is a state funded initiative that runs many of the city wide events. It also has a museum in the middle of the historic downtown and showcases the Danish modern design tradition, and exhibits new and current design explorations periodically. It is a museum of 12

design, a showcasing of the countries abilities, desire, and awareness for the arts. This changes the type of architecture possible, achieved, desired, and practiced by architects in Denmark. They work in a completely different culture and mind set where they are highly publicized, and respected as influential in society. This changes the architecture and the practice. Recently Kim Nielsen was nominated and then selected for the Danish Nexx Factor award and won third place. The award was for the country’s most influential

Fashion Week


businessmen and growth factor, both in relationship to being important to and benefiting the nation of Denmark. The winners are not usually designers even in Denmark, but Bjørk Ingles was also nominated, and for an architect to win such an award is exemplary of what the country values. Often architects are under appreciated and their design expertise is forfeited to the clients desires, which they force and do not fully understand or respect the architectural desires and decisions.

This can be and often is different in Denmark. Designers and the arts are respected and valued by all, it is assumed as a quality that should be incorporated and valued in everyday life.

and the arts. Today as architects gain more and more traction and because they are accepted as part of this design culture so valued and internationally revered they are gaining the same reputation, that is Danish architects. The modern projects today, many, are world class and are capturing more and more attention since the early 2000’s. The Scandinavian, or even Danish, architecture style is often sought after internationally even within architecture practices and schools, and this has gained its momentum from its design society.

Copenhagen is undoubtedly the epicenter of Denmark as a cultural center. All of these qualities of design appreciation proliferate throughout the city in museums, events, and shops. It is the way of life, a high culture. Thus internationally it has become renowned for fashion, shopping,






14.5 14






NORDIC DESIGN CULTURE AND ITS INFLUENCE One specific reason the design careers that many Danish comfortably have is the governmental support and programs. There is even an art initiative where artists receive federal pay when they have no work. This lends to “art� in all of their endeavors and everyday products. Danish product design is well known for a wide range of products, from chairs to watches and flatware. Quality and

simplicity are elements of pride for Scandinavian designers and they continue to use those two principles as their most important drivers to design. This tradition and knowledge base of product design is directly inherited by the architecture practices. Often architecture projects are also commissioned to do the furniture and interiors with the rest of the building so architects can develop the entirety in relationship

their concepts and the needs of the client. This lends to very handsome, complete, and unified architectures. 3xn Prides itself in working with just such principles and developed the interior of the Bella Sky Hotel in juncture with the concepts, form, and exterior facade.


“The big failure in the plan (of Ørestad) is that there isn’t very much life between the buildings, and the plan is not designed by how you move about and how you meet your neighbors.” 2 Kim Herforth Nielsen creative director founder





s a connection between the River and Via Guido Reni. The building’s entrance is defined by the RiverOccuptas nonsequis quis eume ma nitas simagnis apellorem dolorera con perum di delessi te quisque elestiatate vides remporenes 3 et, sequate et rectatemos autessum am que pratinto de sum am fuga. Umque solupta musdanto delecernam repudigeni inim veligenis simpers perumquo in ra nost aliquiduciis quissequi ommodiatur sequis S OUTH E Rdolorroria N CO PE N H AG E N quibus que consequodi



18.1 18




Bella Center

Copenhagen is connected by three lines, branches, of the metro (4), with the epicenter at Christianhavn in the historic city center. These metro lines are very spread out and the stops are far apart, however it ties together the fabric fairly well. One line runs to the site neighborhood in Ă˜restad, which is the life line to the area and the Bella Center (1), without it there would be no public life. Since the Bella Sky hotel has been completed the area has gained more publicity again and locals and visitors are starting to visit the hotel and area for recreation.6 The metro lines converge in the center of downtown, very close to the 3xn office (2). The office sits near many other design firms in that historic district. Many of their projects are located in Denmark, and even Copenhagen so their office and design is inherently rooted in the Danish culture and design pool (which can be considered small). There are only two architecture schools in Denmark and most professionals working there go to one or the



3xn office


Copenhagen Airport


Copenhagen Metro Lines


decisions. There is a metro stop immediately adjacent to the site, for the Bella Center, and another close down the line also feeding the immediate neighborhood. The form of the building by 3xn responds to the stop as the entrance is on the opposite side with a walkable connection between the two towers so visitors must experience the building before they enter. This is also driven by the important road running between the two towers then turning parallel to the metro, continuing into downtown.

other. Kim went to Aarhus, as did many others in the office. The metro also connects to the airport (3), which is very important to the city. The city is extroverted internationally as the country is so small, but the city and its design culture is respected and involved internationally so the airport is a key hub to the city. The site (1) has a few characteristics to it that are key to the design in the process of 3xn’s 19

SITE CHARACTERISTICS THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND LINKS The site itself is sandwiched between rural fields and an out of place immense suburban condition. This juxtaposition of the rural to the west and suburban to the east is especially interesting due to the makeup of the site, its international

importance, and its relationship to downtown Copenhagen, or lack thereof. Within this area there are five architecturally significant buildings, two by 3xn, and three by another Danish firm, BIG. Also on the site is the Bella Convention

Bella Sky Hotel

Major Connectiv

e Highway To Do


The Bella Center

72.1 20

Center [which is connected to The Bella Sky Hotel], a shopping center, and another hotel. The Ă˜restad neighborhood is completely dependant on and development is fed by the metro

line, as it is the only life line to the area, but it also splits the area. It

might exist within the buildings.

runs directly down the middle and there are no good connections, especially pedestrian. This contributes to the very poor life and quality to the area beyond what

Never the less as exemplified by the recent construction of the Bella Sky Hotel there is new construction going on in the area, and there are multiple projects in process

currently. The area is a target for any new development as the city is trying to promote it and there is space. The world class projects that have been completed in the past 10 years hold international attention, and more are yet to come.



Ă˜restad Split West











Bella Center Metro Stop



Bella Sky Hotel - 3xn


Bella Center 2



Mountain Dwelling - BIG

VM Houses - PLOT (BIG)

Ørestad College - 3xn 5


Field’s Shopping Center


7 Cabinn Hotel


“8” Building (tallet)8- BIG 22




1 The recent modern projects that hold international attention in Ørestad have been completed by the biggest architectural names in Denmark, including PLOT, BIG, and 3xn.



Ørestad College is another 3xn project which was completed four years before Bella Sky, which sits just beyond and on the other side of the metro line from the Bella Center. It houses interior similarities to Bella Sky, but from the exterior it is not as immediately relatable, but it was a breakout building for 3xn and their philosophy of practice.





All of BIG’s projects in the area are housing developments with different formal gestures. Although these projects are very “Danish”, along with Bella Sky, they are strikingly different. The facades on BIG’s projects are not prioritized or detailed to the same level of detail as those in 3xn’s projects. In fact the general detailing is completed on two completely different levels, as BIG focuses on developing formal strategies and then sticks them [ie. the ‘stacking’ of the Mountain or the triangulated balconies of the VM, by PLOT]. They develop figure to ground relationships cohesive with the Danish approach while slight differentiation is shown in the 8-Tallet housing project, by BIG.




8 23




1. Value from the 2010 Census 2. Value from the 2009 Census 3. Per Voetmann,

2.1 - Adam Mørk 4.1 - 5.1 - 6.1 - 6.2 - 6.3 - 7.1 - Henrik Pauli 7.2 - Adam Mørk 8.1 - Adam Mørk 10.1 - Henrik Pauli 10.2 - Henrik Pauli 10.3 - Henrik Pauli 11.1 - (C) 2006 by copenhagazine 11.2 - Copenhagen Metro: 12.1 - 13.1 - 14.1 - Volvo 14.2 - Saab 14.3 - Arne Jacobsen 14.4 - 14.5 - 15.1 - Puma 15.2 - SAS Royal Hotel 15.3 - Koppel 15.4 - 15.5 - Arne Jacobsen 16.1 - Adam Mørk 19.1 - Bella Center 19.2 - 19.3 - Copenhagen Airport 19.4 - Pelle Krøgholt

4. Hanne Tholstrup, “Jante Law” 49&page=Jante+Law 5. Weather data from Danish Building Research Institute of Aalborg University, climate-data 6. Copenhagen Metro:

QUOTATIONS 1. Nielsen, Kim Herforth. Mind Your Behaviour: How Architecture Shapes Behaviour. 1. ed. Copenhagen: 3XN, 2010. 2. Quote from our personal interview with Kim Herthforth Nielsen of 3XN. 25






The 3xn office is lead by 3 partners, plus the research and

3xn because of the three “n”’s. Kim is the creative director and “face”

development head. The creative director Kim Nielsen was a cofounder of Nielsen Nielsen and Nielsen in 1986 (which became

of the firm. Bo Larsen is the CEO and mostly deals with company management. Jan Ammmundsen is the youngest of the partners






28.2 28

creative director


competition head

gxn head

as the competition head, where most of the schematic designs take place under his leadership. Kasper Guldager heads research and development, which has not only been instrumental in 3xn

3 X


projects and beneficial to the firm, up to date, but now is beginning to do projects and commissions on its own, not as a part of a 3xn project (but the department is still completely imbedded in the firm).

Pri nc

P r i n Pc R i pI N aC l sI P L E S


A r c hAi R t C e cHtI T s ECTS

The firm has two offices, by far the larger in Copenhagen, but also a small location in Aarhus. The office is international so English is spoken fluently, however the majority of employees are Danish.


20 - 35

uS cT t iRnUgC TA r cGh Ai R t eCcHt IsT E C T S CArch C o n sCtOr N IN


I n h oIuNsHe O UCSoEn sCuOl N t S aU n tLTA s NTS

5 - 10


Intern I n t eIrNnTsE R N S

5 - 7

e lO D SE hL o pS H O P Model M o d M

1 - 5


P u b lPi U c BRL eI C l aR t iEoLnAT s IONS


O v e rO VHEeRa d HEAD

6 - 8

4 - 8 # of people

29.1 29



Kim Herforth Nielsen Principle, Partner, Creative Director


LEADING THE TEAM THE STORY Nielsen was born in 1954 in Sonderborg, and attended the Aarhus School of Architecture from which he graduated in 1981 at age 27. In Denmark there are only two schools of architecture and most Danish architects graduate from Aarhus, making it an important influence on the architectural style throughout the country. The Aarhus School of Architecture’s mission is: “To conduct research and artistic

development at the highest level with the aim of continuously classifying training, professional practice and architectural interdisciplinary integration.” Nielsen said that “the students there were more inspired and encouraged by each other than the professors”. He also noted that Thom Mayne, Zaha Hadid, and Daniel Liebskind visited his school before they were famous names

and were very influential to his personal architectural thinking. Nielsen often guest lectures internationally at architecture schools and is actively involved in the exploration of what architecture and practicing architecture means. Also he has great convicting in Gxn, their research department, which keeps them current, innovative, and responsible. 31




WORK ETHIC IN THE OFFICE DESIGN EQUALITY Typical architectural offices, especially in the United States, divide design responsibilities in correlation with pay-grade. The top principle makes the most design decisions (or project architect) while the lowest intern does very 3 little and performs logistical tasks.

At 3xn the attitude and structure is much more democratic and equal.7 The managers do make final decisions and must have stronger pull, but everyone’s opinion is voiced and respected and even Xinterns are actively designing and part of the design conversation, not

just corrections after the fact. This is based in the belief that anyone working there is capable and everyone’s involvement will make the project that much stronger as every dimension will be developed parallel to the concepts, with critical thinking.


Prin c

Conc ept


3 X

I nt e rn







Co n


o r


I nt e rn

A rch

Inte rn


Inte rn

CA rc h

Co n



Tra d i t i o n a l Str u ctu r e o f D e sign Re s po n sibilitie s


Prin c

A rch

CA rch

Co n c e p t S D D D CD



Inte rn



Office Assembly and Lunch Room


OFFICE CULTURE THE EVERYDAY PROFESSIONAL A very important part to the office is the culture and open attitude. Everyday lunch is provided for everyone in the assembly room of the office. At 12 pm everyday the entire office stops everything they are doing and eats lunch together.8 This stimulates conversation not only for beneficial relationships, but also fosters conversations and cross-department interaction about projects and ideas, benefiting the office projects and the office

employees. This also gives employees personal satisfaction and interest in the office beyond the tasks they are completing. Beyond that it saves everyone’s time and makes the office work days more productive and healthier.

a professional, but very polite, courteous, and comfortable environment for all visiting clients who everyone socializes with around the coffee and food is provided for almost all meetings. The architectural ideas about human behavior of 3xn are brought into the office and business structure, exemplifying the conviction the principles have in their architectural philosophies.

Such interaction is always encourage by everyone at the office, and parties and drinks are a common occurrence, stimulating office interaction. It also provides






RESEARCH DEPARTMENT OF 3XN PROJECT INTEGRATED RESEARCH Architecture offices today are more and more commonly incorporating research departments. OMA, SOM, Foster, Kieren Timberlake, and 3xn all are examples of this trend with either research departments or a highly ingrained research component to the projects they work on. These research departments in part work for marketing and attracting clients, but in a real sense they keep the practices current in technologies and tools, while informing projects in a digital world with vast amounts of information and coordination issues that are difficult to resolve without full-time departments thinking about the issues. Research in the workplace does mean different things for different offices.9 For 3xn the material research is how the department started and is very important to them in terms of incorporating new materials, but also sustainable green materials. They have evolved to a more rounded department and even completing design projects as project experiments now. They also are involved in 3xn projects when especially difficult or informational based designs are being developed. Horten is an example of a building that had highly complex geometry and self-shading, so gxn worked on it to develop the geometries in correlation with sun analysis.



user-based considerations, focus on craft of product, tangibility


material and geometries research, prototyping, building


conceptual development, architectural thought


analysis of architectural factors impacting the practice in totality, ecological and social


world class high rise towers, large scale

BlackBox Studio

computational analysis and generation



Horten Self-Shading Facade with Gxn 37

RESEARCH METHODOLOGIES EXPLORATION AND APPLICATION Kasper Jørgensen, the director of GXN explains clearly the ethic of

the Innovation Unit of 3XN and was founded in 2007. The ‘G’ stands

dedication to ecological design research through digital processes

the research department, “GXN is

for Green, highlighting GXNs

and innovative material solutions.”


Gxn Upstairs Loft

38.2 38

Kasper Guldager Jørgensen Associate Partner 3xn Director GXN

“The expertise and know how of GXN are used in the development of 3XNs building projects and competition work.

“Know-how: GXN operates on the cutting edge between core science and commercial solutions. Thus, the department builds up know-how in the architectural office.

“Know: To find operational and relevant examples of digital development, knowledge must be collected from other digital design practices, innovative industries, material scientists, engineers, computer scientists etc.

“How: Collected knowledge will be incorporated into, and experimented and played with to generate new solutions. As is well known, innovation often springs from the combination of knowledge from different fields and its application in new contexts.”3

Jørgensen’s expertise is in material research and architectural application of cross-disciplinary technologies. 39.1 39


“Architecture Shapes Behavior


Behavior Shapes A r c h i t e c t u r e �4


“The mission is to develop a building culture that positively affects the world in which we live - both architecturally and environmentally. The work method of GXN is network based innovation where design solutions often emerge from multidisciplinary expertise.�5 Kim Herforth Nielsen creative director founder


DESIGN APPROACHES CONCEPTUAL PRACTICES Nielsen is the driver and leader of the direction of 3xn as an office, their preoccupations, and their design philosophies, even though there is great design democracy is their processes. Architecture shapes behavior is their most important generator of their architecture as the end-user and the interactions of people within their architecture is what the office cares about, and vise versa because that is the concern the way people behave is influencing their architectural designs. These ideas are written about and published by 3xn in many instances, but their two books Mind Your Behavior and Investigate Ask Tell Sense Build are specifically in conversation about their ideas through the lens of their projects. An important dimension to the office’s philosophies is realization and the “build”.10 The end result and the goal to build is always present, they are not concerned with


intellectual preoccupations that are only appreciated by other architects in the field, which has its place in research, but 3xn is concerned with materials, people, and building. Kim states that “Mind Your Behavior is about the way we work with the term behavior as generator for new ideas”. This was also a very large exhibit in the Danish Architecture Center, which is another state funded museum and exhibit hall of design, specifically architecture. 3xn also holds themselves responsible for quality of design as representatives for their country, Denmark, and for sustainable and sensible design. For these reasons Gxn was created as the “G” stands for green, so the research was meant to discover responsible materials and processes for their projects and also remain current and ahead of the curve in terms of technologies and design abilities. The research department is successful in many ways, but especially its integration. It sustains its own identity, which benefits 3xn, but it also os completely intertwined in the office and projects. Although there are multi-disciplinary professionals in Gxn, people also shift in and out from the downstairs studio to upstairs, and back down, on a project to project basis, and even sometimes week to week. This maintains a very integrated research work environment.

43.2 43



26.1 44

EMERGENCE OF THE SUPER DANISH DIRECT WORK RELATIONSHIPS AND CORRELATIONS As OMA became influential and the Super Dutch working style and questioning of society and behavior through architecture, Nielsen and other Danish architects were slowly gaining traction. One could argue the modern styles of the Dutch and the Danish have similarities, the

Danish differing with their history of fine product design. More clearly there are direct connections as Bjørk ingles worked for MVRDV, an offspring from the Dutch father, Koolhaas, and today Ingles is extremely influential architect with his practice of BIG is Denmark

and internationally. 3xn considers his practice a peer (with different priorities), but similarities can be drawn. Today 3xn is actually collaborating with Ben Van Berkel an original Super Dutch father along with Koolhaas, on their “Lighthouse Project”.

2001 1975

1986 1988 1993







7. This lack of hierarchy is capable due to the Danish cultural atmosphere along with the construct of relationships within the firm. 8. These lunches are catered and served buffet style including multiple

28.1 - 28.4 - 28.5 - Adam Mørk 29.1 - Adam Mørk 30.1 - Adam Mørk 31.1 - Adam Mørk 34.1 - Adam Mørk 35.1 - Kasper Guldager 37.1 - Diagram by Jenni Wilga 37.2 - 38.1 - Adam Mørk 38.2 - Adam Mørk 39.1 - Adam Mørk 40.1 - 3Xn sketch of Liverpool Museum 42.1 - 3Xn drawing of an iterative model, 2009 43.1 - 43.2 -

courses and are well balanced. 9. These are the people who have been involved with the project that is GXN since it was originally founded in 2007: Kim Herforth Nielsen, Kasper Guldager Jørgensen, Rasmus Møller, David Wolthers, Nanna Flintholm, Michael Soja Høxbroe, Jonas Riis Jensen, Mads Hougaard, Nis Timmer, Lars Lundbye, Johan Straarup, Jesper Thøger Christensen, Lasse Lind, Torben Lauritzen, Berglind Halla Elfudottir, Mikkel Schiller, Stian Lenes, Mikkel Alø Andersen, Mikkel Bolt Henriksen, Morten Myrup, Mathias Kræmmergaard Kristensen, Thiru Manickam, Linh Chieu Tran, Dorthe Toft Boesen, Kasper Hertz, Torben Østergaard, Rasmus Kruse, Jens Henrik Birkmose, Bodil Nordstrøm, Thomas Holst Madsen, Marie Hesseldahl, Christian Wamberg Rasmussen, Robert Fournais, Lila Held, Andre van Leth, Tore Banke, Lars-Erik Eriksson, Morten Norman Lund, Henrik Leander Evers, Pedram Seddighzadeh, Matthew Scarlett, Bjørk Christensen, Peter Feltendal, Jasper Overgaard Schlichting, Kyle Baumgardner, Elliot Mistur, Majbritt Lerche Madsen, Ulrich Pohl, Laura Wagner, Simon McKenzie, Jacob Hilmer, Laura Diestel and Annica Carina Tomasdotter Ekdahl 10.

QUOTATIONS 3. Kasper’s description of the research branch as stated in part of the GXN mission statement on the firm’s website: GXN/rd_mission/ 4. The office’s philosophy and a quote from their exhibit “Mind Your Behavior” 5. Excerpt from the mission statement about GXN on 3Xn’s website: rd_mission/ 47


ARCHITECTURAL INFLUENCES preoccupations and precedents


EXTERNAL PRECEDENTS NOTABLE NORDIC CROSS ARCHITECTURES BIG Architects is the most publicized Danish firm located in Copenhagen, which also has projects in the Ørestad area in which Bella Sky is located. The firm’s similar background is very apparent at times and in certain projects, although BIG has never built a project quite like Bella Sky, they have attempted projects of similar scale which, incidentally, house similar characteristics to 3Xn’s projects. This first example, “REN” is an iconic hotel comprised of two slender towers connecting. The similar strategies include the use of a graphic facade on a stark white material which camouflages the floor plate in order to accentuate the building’s iconic status. This materiality also accentuates the monolithic status associated with the figure-ground relationship. All of these visual features are applicable to Bella Sky as well.


BIG’s REN project


Bella Sky Hotel

The reasoning behind the split in the tower in BIG’s project is not fully addressed, but facilitates different types of interaction between users and program, similarly to 50

the programmatic shift in Bella Sky. These types of comparisons can be forged internationally of many different practices, but the way in which Danish architects, and Scandinavian, approach the architectural concepts with unabashed formal gestures and form as concept is a Nordic preoccupation. Snohetta is a Scandinavian firm located in Norway. It is a firm founded close to the same year as 3xn, so it has a similar set of influences and experiences, along with many common work ethics and values.


The Ras-Al-Khaimah project is again a slender ratioed tower evident in this hotel, and the ground relationship is similar to the Bella Sky’s lobby area, which is a pediment that the towers sit on. This building, however, achieves iconic status without the blatant

Snohetta’s Ras-Al-Khaimah

geometries of the Danish iterations of an iconic tower structure. The perforated facade is more subtle, but is again a monolithic white building which stands out against its landscape.


The three designs are strong Nordic examples and can be described as clear, understandable, and elegant forms, realized in socially stimulating and functional destinations of beauty. Of course the individual Nordic projects can be developed to different degrees of quality, some being overly gestural for many critics.

Bella Sky Hotel towers on Pediment 51

FACADE FEATURES ENVELOPE STRATEGIES Jean Nouvel’s Chelsea luxury apartment complex at 100 11th Ave hones its persona and identity mainly through its facade, just as Bella Sky does. Through the use of tilting glass of varying opacities and modulated super-panels, the facade creates a changing experience for the interior and exterior viewers. The iconic side of Nouvel’s facade does not face its immediate context, in an attempt to refrain from blatant attention-seeking. Instead, a more contextually subtle black brick facade with punched windows frame specifically chosen views of the immediate city.

100 11th street


These unique views in conjunction with the differing modulated combinations on the opposite facade allow for unique experiences within each personal space housed by this building. Each apartment unit is given its own personality, while appearing cohesive from the exterior. This cohesiveness is possible due to the modulation hiding the floor plates and rendering the building as a cohesive mass, camouflaging scale. Both exterior cohesiveness and interior individuality emerge from Bella Sky’s modulated facade as well. This is achieved in Bella Sky by a more simplified practice

Interior View

52.3 52

Cope as

which uses only six flat-cut positive negative modules which repeat over its massive facade. This is in contrast to 100 11th Ave’s forty different modules11 along with the contrasting facade system on its contextual side. The goals and achievements of each of these facades are similar and yet go about entirely different processes and strategies in order to reach them. One of the main differences between the two is that the overall form of Bella Sky is much more expressive and active as the towers are leaning, facetting, and canting. The facade panels are also developed in relationship to the overall form so that the angles along the edges and corners meet up so the facade detailing and form of building are both influencing each other, while the same realizations come into play into the interiors of the building. Theses are good examples of Danish integration of architectural goals and detailing to meet concepts and form a complete architectural work. Nouvel’s building parts work together, the facade, interior, and form, but perhaps are not actually generating each other. They are parts forming a whole, as compared to part is whole and whole is part.

Bella Sky Hotel


Interior View


Jean Nouvel | 100 11th Ave


LINKING LINES CIRCULATION BRIDGES Bridges as an architectural strategy act as connectors. Most frequently it is to connect programmatic spaces for usability. Two examples of programmatically driven bridges are Lina Bobardi’s SESC Pompeia and Steven Holl’s Linked Hybrid.

Lina Bombardi’s SESC


SESC Pompeia is a linking between two towers in order to connect vertically stacked program. The stacking of the program causes a need for multiple horizontal connections, which manifest themselves in uncovered bridges which allow visual connections with the outdoors and the exterior of the building. These bridges represent a spark of interconnectivity between users, program and the building. In earlier representations of Bella Sky, multiple bridges were proposed, but due to the lack of variance in stacked program of the hotel, only two were necessary. Linked Hybrid is more systematic in its connectivity. While it is also connected at the ground level for pedestrians, the building allows the same sort of pedestrian-allowable activity to occur at the same level as important program. This is a connectivity which goes beyond programmatic convenience and aims to promote socialization within its users, by physically manifesting the idea of connecting as an architectural activator.

Holl’s Linked Hybrid

54.2 54

Steven Holl stated that “We hope the public sky-loop and base-loop will constantly generate random relationships. They will function as social condensers resulting in a special experience of city life to both residents and visitors.”6 Although this is a more computational or analytical version of promoting socialization via connecting circulation paths than 3xn would suggest, this is one of the main considerations of the firm when approaching any project. 3xn typically uses a more interior strategy in conjunction with exterior social connections. This is also a Danish idea, because another Copenhagen project which utilizes interior and exterior bridges is The Royal Library by Schmidt, Hammer and Lassen from 1999. This may have been an initial inspiration for the concluding sequence of social and programmatic connections which have surfaced in 3xn’s projects.


Royal Library


Interior Bridges

The Bella bridges are actually used to a certain degree for structural connection, which is unique of these three projects. Because of movement, bridge connections are difficult and must move slightly, so the 3xn bridges are pinned at one corner and the other structural corners are rollers in order for there to be enough movement so the bridge isn’t destroyed by wind. Bella Sky Bridge

55.3 55

SOCIAL STAIRS ALLEATORY SPACES These social connectors and drivers can be architecturally facilitated through the use of stairs as well. Thom Mayne is a named influence by Nielsen himself, and his Cooper Union Building is a perfect example of promoting socialization with a stair system. Mayne’s project includes multiple uses for the stairs, visual connections and interstitial spaces to prompt social connectivity. Ørestad College was completed at the same time as the Morphosis project, which is an educational building as well, that utilizes similar strategies to also promote this interactivity between students.


Morphosis’ Copper Union


Floating Stair

The concept of the open plan which encourages social interaction within education stems from Kim’s own education in the Aarhaus Architectural school. He and his peers relied on one another to learn, and he felt he gained a lot more from them than from his teachers in a formal setting. This connection seems to be more deep rooted in each of the architects’ philosophies. Kim considers this project as an exemplary work of his conceptual ideas, and while it certainly fits in with Thom Mayne’s philosophy, there is much more beyond this concept shown in other projects by Morphosis. The user’s interaction is not the most important thing to Mayne. While in 3xn, this


underlying concept is always present. Nielsen went on to explain in our interview with him the importance of this project and its influence on future 3xn projects. “From the outside it’s not the most spectacular building we’ve made, but it has all of the ideas on the inside that I think architecture should do in a building. And it has influenced the ideas of buildings like Saxo Bank, Middelfart, and a new concert building in Holland we’re opening in a few months time. That building has been in it’s thinking very important.”7 Nielsen stated that, “We decided we should add something that was not there before, something that adds positively to the site. Thom Mayne once said that ‘you should not build anything if the place is not better after you build it.’”8. This again is exemplary of the conviction with which Nielsen approaches architecture as something beyond


3xn’s Ørestad College


Stair in the Round

an architectural practice, hobby, or experiment. Architecture is real and imbedded in the social world where physicalities have direct effects on people and their lives, so the decisions in the studio that they make affects people and society, This is a responsibility, a joy, and an opportunity and it is profound how thinking about a drawing detail in the studio can change the way someone lives in the future.


“... we try to create places where people can interact and communicate and where synergy can grow.� 58

“...we design buildings for the people that are going to act in them.�9 Kim Herforth Nielsen creative director founder



Ă˜restad College Completed 2007


SOCIAL STAIRS ALLEATORY SPACES An influential project within the firm, its design strategies are key in understanding what the firm places emphasis upon. This project, as a youthful educational environment, was a good opportunity for the firm to try out new interior strategies which have resulted in a trend throughout their projects. These

space and visual connections with students not only on the stair but on various levels and social platforms. Open air and visual connections are important in facilitating open communication and transparency within a social construct, and 3xn went on to use these strategies in programs which do not typically

strategies include the centralized, open, winding staircase which allows for face-to-face interactions while moving throughout the

warrant these kinds of social spaces.

60.2 60

Social Stair

Saxo Bank Completed 2008


SOCIAL STAIRS ALLEATORY SPACES 3xn accepted a bank as a program challenge as they did not stray from this idea of driving social interactions, which is not typical for a bank. There again is the open spiral staircase and visibility between floors. 3xn continues to rethink programmatic norms in order to facilitate their goals. The main achievement and result of this building however was an early stage in 3xn’s exploration of geometric facade systems. The

triangulation is continued in many different variations through many of the office projects and is seen in Bella Sky’s facade. The way the modules span one floor, but they combine for larger patterns that span multiple floors blurs the floor plates and scale, but also is very pragmatic in construction and as a paneling system. It differs greatly from Bella Sky as there is variation in the pattern and it sometimes disappears, which shows the different affects of the program. 61.2 61

Social Stair Alternate


CPH Arch Competition 2008

NEW DIRECTION ICON ELEGANCE Thoughts on interaction and programmatic connections facilitating human connections also appear in 3Xn’s first attempt at a skyscraper, something very uncustomary to the Danish. The program of this building is office space and a public bridge which delegates between two sides of the

by this main bridge. This attempt to create connections in an otherwise very vertical program was their best attempt at understanding how to bring the firm’s ideals into the highrise building. The project again is driven by social interaction as they tried to incorporate public space through the entirety of the building

harbor. This project shows some early signs of the future Bella Sky layout, with public spaces at the top, bottom and middle, connected

as a driver for urban activity at a building scale. 3xn did not win the competition and MVRDV is now developing a realization.12 62.2 62

United Nations to be Completed 2012


The UN Village is another new direction that 3xn in developing as it is a program of intense requirements and codes. They are trying to balance the concepts of High security versus accessibility, while making it a pleasant place for people who work there and also making it a public visitation

has a series of circulation bridges and again stairs that promote a movement and interaction of people that will make them aware of their surroundings. Again the realization is completely consistent with the firm’s convictions. Individuality versus convergence are important UN values and the architecture

site. The form is informed by the social driver of people working in offices mainly so sunlight was one of the main drivers. The interior

must answer these very difficult questions. There is also the atrium in the middle connecting all of the individual prongs, a synthesizer. 63.2 63

Interior Bridges




11. Murray, Scott. Contemporary curtain wall architecture. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009.

49.1 - references.aspx?ref=931e1c68-cdc446a4-a7c7-85759a5c802c 50.1 - BIG rendering, 50.2 - 51.1 - Snohetta rendering, www. 51.2 - 52.1 - Chris Dreamgolive 52.2 - eOCULUS/newsletter/?p=6601 53.1 - 53.2 - 54.1 - Paulisson Miura 54.2 - project-detail.php?id=58 55.1 - Elliot Mistur 55.2 - Finn Christofferson 55.3 - Kyle Baumgardner 56.1 - projects/cooper-union 56.2 - projects/cooper-union 57.1 - Adam Mørk 57.2 - Adam Mørk 58.1 - Adam Mørk 60.1 - Adam Mørk 61.1 - Adam Mørk 61.2 - Adam Mørk 62.1 - 3XN rendering 62.2 - 3XN rendering 63.1 - 3XN rendering 63.2 - 3XN rendering

12. “MVRDV’s Sky Village – Winning Skyscraper Competition Entry – Updated.” N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2011. <www.dysturb. net/2008/mvrdvs-sky-village-winning-skyscraper-competition-entry/>

QUOTATIONS 6. 7+8. Excerpt from our personal interview with Kim Nielsen. 9. 65


DESIGNING AN ICON giving form to concept



Adjacent Center


THE BELLA CENTER A QUEST FOR AN ICON which resulted in 814 rooms, 5 restaurants and conference spaces. It was important for 3xn to consider the fact that this building would not represent tourism, but commerce. It was clearly important to represent Danish culture in an impressive way without becoming cliche.

The programmatic mission of Bella Sky was to expand upon an international hub within Copenhagen. With Bella Center hosting international conferences semi-frequently, the company wanted to create a building that could not only accommodate the influx of new users but be a beacon of what Denmark is capable of.

How 3xn handled this challenge was by creating an extremely tall building compared to most in Denmark. In Danish architecture it is rare to find buildings over eight stories. These dual twenty-

This goal led to an impressive plan for a $320,000,00013 building with either 400 or 800 rooms when proposed to 3xn. In the end, the client chose the 800 room program 68

four story towers are a stark contrast from the surrounding architectural context. Although this seems entirely out of place within Copenhagen, the decision to create two neighboring towers originated through programmatic necessities and site stipulations. The out of place is actually completely based on context of site and context of program. Rather than creating a skyscraper typical to places like New York or Mumbai, this two tower solution appeased air code and kept the building more closely planted within its cultural




Arne Bang Mikkelsen, Bella Center


Preben Nesager, Comwell

The sTory abouT scandinavia’s largesT hoTel

COPENHAGEN in The worlds Top 10



Bella Center Copenhagen

Foto / Photo: Joachim Wichmann 7

Official Bella Center Live magazine 2011

Bella Sky Magazine and Owners

69.1 Bella Center Copenhagen

roots. Nielsen states that “it might resemble two people dancing, but it was this programmatic challenge that led to the tower’s iconic design.”10 The Bella Center as client not only wanted this new design identity through the architecture, but they wanted to define a “New Nordic Cool”, with the 3xn design twist. They wanted a completely new modern design to match the pedigree of clients and conventions they try to attract, especially in the design world internationally. This

matched the 3xn methodologies as the project was very much about the end-user and client’s needs, human behavior to a certain extent, rather than simply an introverted architecture; introverted meaning a project developed on concepts within the construct of the architect’s arguments. Rather the development of the hotel is extroverted as the design and concepts extent far beyond the walls, even beyond Denmark.

to take the design tropes of the architects and develop a series of marketing and themes for the total completion of their identity. A fashion show where models wore hats fashioned after the towers and the facade pattern took place, the Bella Sky sign was made and placed in front near the main road, and items like tree ornaments and shampoo bottles were designed. many of these included the development of a typeface included in the architectural signage.

As 3xn developed the hotel project the center also hired designers 69







72.1 72

DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRAM AN INTERNATIONAL BEACON Since this hotel is meant to be an international hub, the image of

interior. The seemingly random pattern on the exterior and complex

here happen annually, meaning that there are a lot of returning guests

the building is key. The building must appear as an icon along with functioning as a world class hotel. This is part of the program which expands to wherever it can be viewed from. The choice of bright white for the facade creates a stark juxtaposition between landscape and building. To give it a persona, 3xn created a unique pattern for the facade; which was key in giving this building a globally recognizable logo. 3xn settled on a pattern which not only makes the towers memorable, but also stays true to their style in past buildings while being unique. The pattern creates a kind of scalelessness to the project. This results in an icon which represents Denmark, 3xn and Bella Center.

form of the building give the majority of the rooms a completely unique identity to the others. Of the 814 rooms, 175 of them have completely exclusive floor layouts15. So even if you end up in one of the rooms the repeat the likelihood that

to the Center. This makes the idea of a unique room experience vital to the success and identity of Bella Sky. For many this hotel is almost like returning home to something familiar but new each and every time.

In the pursuit of creating a unique identity, Bella Sky focused on creating a memorable experience both externally and internally. The theme for the interior was â&#x20AC;&#x153;New Nordic Coolâ&#x20AC;?, which meant taking more traditional Scandinavian furniture and interiors and giving them a modern twist, much like the way the building form takes two simple forms and distorts them for programmatic and spacial reasons. The building has a kind of attitude that can be traced from inside to out. This is also apparent in how facade glazing translates to the

Room Interior


your facade panel is the same is very low. This is what gives each room its own individual identity.

These design choices that 3xn made are all part giving the user an experience uncommon to the other hotels of the same stature and to serve as a beacon for Copenhagen.

In general this hotel is marketed towards conferences. The Bella Centerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s conferences fill the hotel approximately 35% of the year, while conferences and events within Bella Sky and organized by Cromwell will book the rest. Majority of the conferences held



Sky Bar





Bella Sky Comwell has 175 different types of rooms. The two towers lean at 15 degrees in opposite directions, resulting in distinctive room layouts. The rooms placed at the hotel’s outermost points basically have no straight angles. This has posed considerable challenges in relation to furnishing them, but 3XN has solved the task using highly aesthetic and practical solutions.



74.5 74

designed To sATisfy The senses The internationally recognised firm of Swedish architects TEA, headed by Thomas Eriksson, was assigned the task of designing Bella Sky Comwell’s five restaurants and bars.

These sensual challenges were, through TEA’s creative development and in close dialogue with Bella Center, transformed into five unique restaurants and bars in the hotel. loBBy BAr On stepping inside Bella Sky Comwell, guests are met on the right by 3XN’s uniquely designed hotel reception. On the left, TEA has designed a lounge bar, with much of it occupying a sunken area in the floor of the lobby. The different levels create a dynamic look and a relaxing ambience in which guests can communicate on several levels.


The sense of sight must be awakened by the contrast between the hotel’s dramatic exterior and its surprising interiors.

liBrAry BAr Bella Sky Comwell’s “library lounge” is, like Restaurant BM, dominated by natural materials, with wood being used for the floor, panelling and chairs. A relaxing atmosphere that creates the perfect setting for a quiet moment with a cappuccino in the middle of the day or a beer before dinner.

The sense of hearing must be activated by the sounds from nature. And all the greenness

resTAurAnT BM The large main restaurant, Restaurant BM, is

The conceptual starting point for the Swedes dictated that the encounter with Bella Sky Comwell should stimulate all the senses.


THE EXPERIENCE DESIGNING DESIRE Beyond the conference rooms and lobby, which every guest will likely spend time in, there are five total restaurants including the penthouse Sky Bar. This bar is especially prominent in that it gives clear 360 degree views of Copenhagen from one of the city’s highest points; a literal showcase of the city itself. 3xn put a lot of thought into these interior spaces, considering their involvement in the interior design. While the Sky Bar’s image was not designed by 3xn [and is therefore much less successful] other key areas were designed extensively by the firm. These spaces include the Lobby Reception area, which they designed exclusively, along with the Library Bar, Restaurant BM and The Balcony restaurant



which were designed in conjunction with TEA. Bella Sky is also the first hotel in Europe to have a floor specifically dedicated to women. The Bella Donna floor is only accessible by women and has 24 hour surveillance16. It was a floor designed with the feelings of women in mind and serves in order to cater to certain conferences especially for the fashion and modeling events that occur.


second floor public spaces and provide circulation between the two towers. The bridge at the second floor is necessary for the functions of the lower floor and it also provides direct connection to the Bella Center. The second tower at the top floor activates the entire building socially and gives the opportunity for views. There is glass all the way around the sky bar for expansive views of the Danish landscape. Also because the top floor is activated as public the entire building becomes more socially active rather than very private hotel rooms all the way to the top. Consistent with 3xn’s design philosophies, even the form is designed for the user.

The entire architecture changes for the user as the towers are slanted because they are sitting next to each other so the slant offsets the windows of the rooms in order to give excellent views. The bridges between the two towers are in order to connect the top floor and




FORMAL PROCESS DESIGN OPPORTUNITIES Bella Skyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s final form was the result of a rigorous design process that turned a series programmatic and site constraints into opportunities to explore new and innovative geometric and spacial possibilities.

These explorations aimed to test the boundaries of a typical parti of a hotel and the construction practices of typical slender towers. 3xn approached this project with a fearless but rational, cause and

effect thought process. Although the end result is a beautiful and radically unique architecture, each decision is clearly driven by performance for the end-user in mid as the ultimate goal in design.


SITE ANALYSIS DRIVERS OF IDEAS The first obstacle that 3xn faced was how to fit over 800 rooms on such a small site. This situation came with a series of constraints. It was not possible to build a single tower very tall in order to fit enough rooms due to height restrictions in the area because of the proximity to the airport and Copenhagenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s standards. Similarly they couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t build horizontally due to the main service road running a long the north end of the Bella Center. So 3xn proposed the idea of building two towers with bridges spanning between the them. This decision created the problem that people staying in the rooms on the two sides of the towers facing each other would be looking into the opposite windows. To change this 3xn decided to tilt the two towers in opposite directions as if the towers were trying to look past each other, as two dancers frozen at in that moment. This move again had its own set of consequences. When the towers tilt apart from each other they increase their lateral surface area creating a larger target for wind loads. By canting the top of one tower and bottom of another, 3xn is able to reduce the total wind load on the building. As a result of these formal decision and in keeping an extremely slender form for each tower, the rooms are not only each quite unique, but also provide excellent views and daylight.



Preserve Road

Two Connected Towers 79.2

Create Views

Shifting Towers 79.3

Reduce Wind Load

Canting Towers 79.1

79.4 79


Original Design


BELLA SKY SCHEMATIC THE FIRST PASS The initial proposal by 3xn was derived from the firms dedication to creating multiple points of socialization and free connectivity. This initial design, however, did not fully take into consideration the programmatic adjacencies of a hotel. This is understandable, as it is their first attempt at a hotel.

middle it would just be going from some rooms to some other rooms, which is not really needed. If there was some other activity in the middle then it would be an idea, but there wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. The bridge certainly changed a bit during the design process,â&#x20AC;?12 according to Nielsen. From here, an analysis of program brought 3xn to reference the CPH Arch and its approach to dealing with a homogeneous stacked program. The public spaces are

â&#x20AC;&#x153;There is an obvious need for [a bridge] going to the sky bar at the top and a need for one at the bottom, but if there were one in the 80

moved to the top and bottom, creating nodes which the residents of the hotel rooms must visit and are therefore connected to facilitate interaction between all residents. The towers also both sit on top of a multi-story base. Presumably this formal decision is a direct performance relationship to the public and service related program spaces within the base, as the primarily private towers formally resolve differently.

Sky Bar

Sky Bridge

Donna Floor

Main Road Main Circulation Route Bella Center

Program Relationships


BELLA SKY HOTEL PROGRAMATIC NEEDS The lower bridge specifically connects the lobby and lower restaurant spaces between the two towers without disturbing the main road below it. Spanning over this road was one of the initial requirements and allowed for this programmatic connection to occur. The footprint of the building was mandated to take up both sides of the road, so as to sit next to the Bella Convention Center (which is the client base) and also have a large enough footprint to

accommodate all of the future guests. The upper bridge connects the Sky Bar in tower 1 to the other tower. This allows access to all visitors and grants views of both towers, which might otherwise go unnoticed. On the 17th floor there is a women-only policy, ensuring safety and comfort for female guests traveling alone. All of these programmatic factors and relationships result in a luxurious and simple experience for all who choose to enter the building. When

interviewed Nielsen pointed out, “if you have a cityscape with small plazas you’ll meet more people than if you have room-to-room and corridors. I tried to leave out corridors as much as possible, but of course you had to have corridors in the rooms, but in the public areas there are big spaces connecting rather than corridors”13.





13. This equates to roughly 1,826,000,000 DKK. 14. The name “New Nordic Cool” was the idea of the client and in no way represents the views of the interior design as seen by 3XN.

66.1 - 68.1 - 69.1 - 70.1 - 70.2 - SDL - stockholm desin lab 70.3 - SDL - stockholm desin lab 72.1 - 73.1 - Adam Mørk

15. This bit of information was provided by Jesper Brink Malmkjær in our personal interview with him. 16.

74.1 - Adam Mørk 74.2 - Adam Mørk 74.3 - Elliot Mistur 74.4 - Adam Mørk 74.5 - Adam Mørk 75.2 - Adam Mørk 76.1 - 78.1-79.3 - diagrams by KBaum 80.1 - early 3XN rendering of Bella Sky proposal 81.1 - diagram by JWilga

QUOTATIONS 10. BC Live Article, Kim Nielsen 11. BC Live Article, Kim Nielsen 12. Kim Nielsen in our personal interview with him. 13. Kim Nielsen in our personal interview with him. 83







86.1 86

BELLA FACADE PATTERN LOGIC The facade pattern is accomplished through a few technical innovations,







in assembly, materiality, and perhaps most importantly... economically. Typically glazing is not cut in irregular trapezoidal shapes that do not evenly stack on a rectangle. This is because glass is manufactured in rectangular sheets and then the size and shape is cut out, so irregular shapes would leave a lot of waste material at great financial and environmental costs. In order to achieve this pattern of glazing elements the pattern is developed with only 6 different modules, which are then staggered to achieve the irregular pattern. This pattern achieves an effect that allows trends both at the scale of 1 room and at the entire building scale so that the scale of the building and the floor plates is completely disguised. These 6 modules that stagger are defined in such a way that at least 2 fit on every raw piece of glazing before they are cut out to produce minimal waste, making it economically possible. To enhance this effect of the facade the details are developed so that the entire facade lays completely in plane (flush to itself). The opaque in fill areas are constructed of extruded aluminum frames with aluminum plate in fill. Surfaces are also only separated by 15 mm,


which is very small in comparison to typical facade details, again these techniques hide the glazing connections and enhance the flush plane facade.

87.1 87

MEGA PANELS FACADE ANGLE LOGIC The Facade is composed of insulated aluminum and glass

transported to the site and simply hung onto the face of the floor

corners of the four sided towers exactly matched the pattern of the

panels that combine together to form larger mega panels. These mega panels were prefabricated off-site so after the concrete structure for the towers was constructed on site the facade mega panels were easily

plates and connected to one another.

facade. The mega panels were rectangular (except along the corners) so they easily matched the floor plates, yet the pattern masks the rectangular sections as it was carefully coordinated to appear continuous throughout.

The angle of the cuts for the glass and aluminum are based off of the 75 degree lean of the towers. They are exactly the same so that the

75 88









90.6 90



FACADE INSTALLATION OVER 2000 MEGA PANELS17 Once the building was constructed, the facade system was the next important aspect to be settled into place. The 2000 plus panels for this modulated facade were fabricated and assembled off-site by Skandinaviska Glassystem

place in order to install this facade is certainly innovative. The prefabricated nature of the facade panels was necessary in a variety of ways, including economic, accuracy, and installation. The fabrication of such a system is

and slender tower the structure was fairly risky, very unique, and experimental. Glass facade panels have to be extremely accurate in any project as glass is not forgiving, so the mega panels gave an accurate and stable structure to

and then attached by construction workers using mountain-climbing equipment. The connection on the structure was a simply hung curtain wall , but the work and stratifications which was put into

much cheaper within the factory producing the pieces rather than onto the actual towers, so economically it was important. The entire structure was concrete and for such a tall, slanting, faceting,

the glass, to easily connect to the structure. Finally the construction was difficult as it was not only vertical, but at a steep angle so typical tower equipment couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be used, but the mega panels helped.






GXN BELLA CHANDELIER OVER 7000 LEDs The Bella Center wanted a feature within the lobby to greet their guests at the Bella Sky Hotel, so they looked to 3xn’s research and development department, Gxn, for help. They wanted something to tie the space together as well as be a figure piece in the “New Nordic Cool”. For this Gxn proposed a lighting structure unlike any the world has seen before. The Bella Chandelier would be a large-thanlife tensegrity structure composed of 6 acrylic tubes 3.5 meters

long that house 7,000 LEDs and are supported by a 36 millimeter aluminum core, making it the slimmest tensegrity structure of its size. This light piece completely redefines the term ‘chandelier’ with its unique synthesis of design and technology. Its sharp lines and scale integrates perfectly with the aggressive patterning of the facade and interior forms. There is an extreme lightness to this piece that results from the appearance of these floating light bars. The

color of the LEDs change from cool to warm shades of white creating a dynamic transition that allows for new lighting experiences throughout the day. The nature of the tensegrity structure also plays into this idea of lightness. The Bella Chandelier as a whole stands out as a prime example of the synthesis of engineering and art.



94.2 94


“GXN’s multidisciplinary way of working with technology design and advanced structures proved invaluably important in this project, since the challenges that emerged during design and construction only were solvable once the knowledge from fields of architecture and engineering were combined.”14 Kasper Jørgensen

head of Gxn




96.1 96



TWO TOWERS CONSTRUCTION LOGICS The two towers are comprised of a precast concrete structure with minimal amounts of steel. This is generally unusual in towers of this scale, but considering the higher availability of concrete in Denmark this makes sense culturally. Steel-

Two joined towers is very difficult to achieve due to a few factors, such as wind flow and movement. This was part of the reason that only the two necessary bridges are still in place rather than a handful. They are both connected

bottoms in order to weight them down. Since construction the two towers have moved 32 cm apart due to settlement and wind loads, so without the expansion allowed for the bridges they would have been destroyed. Jesper Malmkjær

framed structures are much less common to the area because of concrete being a valuable resource to the area. This is also attributed to the lower height buildings common to Danish culture.

directly to the elevator shaft, but are only fixed in one corner, while the other three corners are harmonic expansion joints, allowed to rotate and slide. The bridges are steel with prefab concrete slab

(project manager) stated that “in the sky bar the bar tenders have reported trying to walk in a straight line across the bar (about 30 feet) and ended 20 cm off their line”15, because of the sway in the towers.


CONSTRUCTION SYSTEMS TOWER STRUCTURE Even though the two towers are formally just reflections of each other, their structuring it quite different. In order to accomplish the geometry of the towers significant engineering considerations had to be incorporated from an early phase. In tower 2 massive anchored “booms” extruded from the ground following up with the slant of the building were used in order to counteract the overturning tendency of the building to want to topple over. This acts as the main load progression as well, directing loads from the top of the building down through the boom as well as other structural walls. 98.1

The canting at the base of tower 1 causes the building to be structured differently. The cant does not take any load from above, it only supports itself; because of this everything above of it has to cantilever of off the elevator shaft walls. Also for tower 1 the sky bar, top floor, is steel structure similar to the bridges, in order to achieve a 360 degree unblocked view in the bar, as requested by the client. Unlike tower 2 the entire base sits on the ground foundation. In tower 2 on half of the bottom sits on the ground foundation, causing massive difficulties in overcoming the overturning. Although the structures are concrete Jesper Malmkjær jokingly mentioned that 98.2 98

Resulting movement x Ux


Partial Uxregn






(mm) (mm ) 140 18 1,00


















0,5/1,3 5




Total away



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2010-12-21 Resulting movement

Bella Hotel



the building is a steel building with concrete paint, because there is so much re-bar steel reinforcement (40 mm steel rods). Interestingly even though the concrete structure seems to appear to depend on the many interior walls like and egg crate, it doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t depend on them all. In fact the elevator walls are the only ones that structurally are the full height of each tower (from top to bottom) as the angle causes an offset between floors so they do not continue through the floors otherwise.

Partial Uxregn





















0,5/1,3 5



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Because of this the elevator shafts are extremely important, especially in tower 2, as they serve to anchor down the entire structure. This is also why the bridges connect to the shafts, besides the circulation reason. Additionally every other wall is load bearing (and 800mm thick) while the ones in between are simply hung from the load bearing (at 200mm thick), that is of the short width of the towers. Both walls lengthwise in each tower (which define the corridors) are load bearing. 99.3 99


(mm) (mm ) 140 18 1,00





84.1 - Image from Ramboll 86.1 - Adam Mørk 87.1 - Adapted from 3xn 87.2 - Adapted from 3xn 88.1 - Diagram made by Kyle Baumgardner 90.1 - 91.2 - http://www.skandglas. se/references.aspx?ref=931e1c68cdc4-46a4-a7c7-85759a5c802c 92.1 - 93.1 - Adam Mørk 94.1 - 95.1 - 96.1 - Images by 3xn 96.2 - Images by 3xn 97.1 - Images by 3xn 97.2 - Images by 3xn 98.1 - Adapted from 3xn 98.2 - Adapted from 3xn 99.1 - Adapted from Ramboll 99.2 - Adapted from Ramboll 99.2 - Image by Ramboll

QUOTATIONS 14. - Kasper 15 - Jesper Malmkjær 101


THE TRAJECTORY future of 3xn



Blue Planet to be Competed 2013


â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is important that we not only meet but also create new standards in the construction industry. 3xn aims to develop architecture that helps to improve the world we live in - architecturally and environmentallyâ&#x20AC;?16 Kim Herforth Nielsen creative director founder

Entrance Close-up

104.2 104


The Bella Sky Hotel is a realization and manifestation of many scales

same time it blends in with its surroundings on a secondary

Recently new directions in the 3xn office are beginning to shape

of architectural articulation and exemplary of 3xn’s convictions, while delivering to the highest degree and satisfaction to the client. The goal of creating a destination and identity for The Bella Center has been achieved as the 814 rooms in the hotel have been almost to capacity since opening day. Beyond this it is achieved with conviction and conceptual articulation that functions and showcases the detailing and elegance that Danish architecture is defined by. The building is sure to project Copenhagen even further into the international scene and hype of architectural discourse and design culture as it is not only a functional artifact, a shell used, but also a living artifact as the center is a design convention center throughout the year. It should also provide another destination, identity, and everyday use for visitors as a node in an urban fabric-less failed master plan.

level, which consists of many similarly situated modern projects. The towers are developed in relationship to programmatic requirements with extremely subtle adjustments and relationships to the metro, Bella Center, surrounding roads, and buildings. Many of the qualities are hidden in plain site, yet the building is unforgettable. It is subtly achieved in order to be obvious in function.

however as the office evolves and matures. Gxn is developing and becoming more capable so it is pulling in clients and projects to do other than through 3xn so sustainable and conceptual test research projects and becoming a new test bed in Gxn, and a main focus of many efforts. 3xn and the competition are also begging to develop some very differently resolved buildings, more in line with their landscape as building projects, as compared to their heavy facade development preoccupation such as the Bella Hotel. An example of such a project is The Blue planet, Copenhagen’s new aquarium and cultural center, which is heralded to be the new face of Danish architecture. The project form is extremely rooted in landscape form development and seems to have to the potential strong connections between the earth, sky, and sea. Nielsen stated that “we wanted to create that adventurous feeling, and we took inspiration in the natural phenomenon of the whirlpool or maelstrom drawing you into the deep. A sculpture at the coast it unites the natural elements of water, air and earth.” This new turn in inspiration and in combination with their usual careful generation and understanding of behavior is an exciting new trajectory.

The iconic Bella Sky hotel is developed to be an identity and beacon for multiple scales. Given the circumstances and location it is site and behavior driven and appropriately situated. It is an attention grabber with its unmistakable facade, which is exactly the purpose, but at the

3xn is also gaining publicity and benefiting internationally from the completion of the Bella Hotel. The office has steadily becoming an internationally renowned and respected firm and one of the most so in Denmark. This is based in their work and how it “proves how the client, the user or the inhabitant will derive unique value by entering into and architectural dialogue with 3xn, a dialogue which focuses on form as the carrier of more than functional denotations and solutions”, states Kent Martinussen. Much of their work shows similar approaches and strategies in realization of the projects, although all unique. The office work ethic and methodologies are exemplified in all the projects as the team seems to have great cohesion; the leader, Nielsen, always says “we” when speaking about projects.



Nielsen, Nielsen and Nielsen Founded 1986


Hans Peter Svendler Nielsen Leaves







Lars Frank Nielsen Leaves























ARENA 2010







Textiles in Architecture 2007 Tensile Fabric Geometries



Composite Bridge 2007 Lightweight Composite Structure 112.4


The Integrated Facade 2007 Unitized Facades



Direct Manufacturing 2007 3D Material Printing



45 Cube 2008 Laser Cut Friction Joints




Designed Concrete 2008 Strengthened and Whitened for the Lighthouse Project



Horten Facade 2008 Composite Material Geomtries Travertine and Fiberglass



Technology Design 2008 Shading Products



Louisiana Pavilion 2009 Large Scale Customized Construction and Material



Material Potential 2009 Student Workshop




Facade for Savings Bank 2009 Shading and Construction



Gotham Light 2009 Fabrication and Cost



Mind Your Behaviour 2010 Exhibit and Fabrication



Danzer Light 2010 Technological Material Lighting 114.7


Energy Simulator 2010 Intelligent Modeling




Material Google 2010 Public High-Tech Resource



Urban Green 2011 Moveable Plant Walls



Icosahedron 2011 Grasshopper and Rationalization 115.6



APPENDIX C INTERVIEW WITH KIM NIELSEN [Written and Conducted by Kyle Baumgardner,

was at its highest, there was a lot

was some new energy and that

Elliot Mistur, and Jenni Wilga]

of discussion from one side to the other. It was an interesting time where everything was breaking off and going in new directions. Out of it came OMA and Zaha Hadid, of course, some of the old postmods came out and away from it. At the architecture school Aahus where I went, everybody came from outside, not many students came from Aahus, they came from the whole country. Many people came from Copenhagen, because the architecture school was and is the new school in Denmark and more about what happens around in the big world. Names of people we had visit: Thom Mayne, Zaha Hadid and Daniel Liebskind before they became famous visit the school around that time.

really got the team working. We were competing a lot, having fun and working day and night really getting inspired by each other more than from the teachers. Of course from all of the lectures that came along…. That was how it was, it was very much a live-in environment where you are, 24 hours at the school all the time. I didn’t really know anybody, because I came from a small town and I think that was an advantage of course. Because then you had nothing else to do really besides design and do work together with your fellow students.

EM: Can you quickly summarize your background and how you became interested in architecture? KN: Yeah, actually when I finished high school I didn’t really know what to do so I went as far away as I could go so I went to New Zealand. I met some guys who started an architecture school over there, and in particular one guy showed me a very interesting young New Zealand architect, Roger Walker, who made some very unusual buildings. That inspired me to go to architecture school. EM: Besides that, were there any designers or artists outside of architecture who influenced you?

EM: Could you speak about your experience within the architecture school, including what classes or teachers were like?

KN: At that time I didn’t know very much about it. I just, well, I always liked art and liked to draw and liked to be traded so, actually, when I realized that I wanted to be an architect that it became obvious that was the way to go and I got very attached with it right away. It took awhile before I really knew who was who; you have to become familiar with the education and all of the different designers. And this was many years ago, it was the middle of the eighties. At that time it was just when post-modernism

KN: Yeah, it was not so much the teachers, of course there were some teachers who were better than others, but the teachers were not actually outstanding. It was more on the regularity where everyone was very enthusiastic and we learned a lot from each other and there was one guy, Morton Schmidt, who spent one year in America, when he came back there 116

EM: How did you meet the other Nielsens? KN: We didn’t come out of school the same year Hans Peter, who left the office 18 years ago now, he was at that time lecturing at the school and had straight away went into teaching. He’s a very pretty brainy guy and very much into theory. He was very into any kind of architectural theory, which inspired me very much. Then Lans Franc, who was a little bit older, he was one of his friends. So we made a little group where we’d study things together. We went to Italy and so on, we saw all of the old architecture: Palladio etc. and of course all of the new stuff as well.

And we went on a trip to the states, to the west coast, and we met Charles Moore and Richard Meyer. This was again, in 87 so that was awhile ago, so we met all of the big

designs that OMA stands for and to mix these things is very interesting.

guys. We met Thom Mayne, went to his office and talked to them. That inspired us a lot, and when we got back I was invited to an exhibition in St. de Pompedeu with 30 other young students from all over Europe to make a Lego Bill so I asked the two other guys if they’d like to do the competition together. We made what we called the Danish House, and we realized our last names were Nielsen, which is the most common name in Denmark and so we called our team “Nielsen Nielsen and Nielsen” just for the fun. And that was a competition for the new Villa at the time and we won the competition so that was the start of the office.

Cool” for the interior so we were wondering what part of Nordic design that derives from and in relation to other design preoccupations internationally?

EM: Since becoming a professional how have your influences evolved? KN: There’s a big variety of architects that are important today: Herzog Demuron, Rem, Thom Mayne and there is another group, Snoetta, BIG, and us. They have an influence in where things are going today. I think there is a very interesting discussion going on today, when I went to architecture school there was a breaking up between modernism and postmodernism and constructivism and then time past and there’s kind of a similar discussion about pragmatism and the two lines of Zaha Hadid’s forms and the more pragmatic

have this too, but what happened …. in the middle of the century Swedish design was very good too with Episilon and other of the old Swedish architects but now for a

JW: In Bella Sky there is this description of the “New Nordic

long time it has become very quiet in Sweden and now we have a lot of jobs in Sweden because they’ve had a leg of good architects and because of the way that the old system was the total contraction and now the contractors have been leading the market over there and architects are only invited to make sketches and not full projects. The developments in Denmark has been quite different in that the architect has quite a lot more power and is very…. the architect is in charge of the whole process. And it’s very common in the US and architects if you have a public building not only do the building but also do the interior and you do some of the furniture you might design lamps? and furniture for the building as well. That has improved the Danish

KN: It was actually not me that came up with this name, it was the client. I was wondering what he was talking about. I think what he means is that it’s cool design, nothing to do with cool as in temperature but what is cool today. So what he wanted us to show was state of the art, where are we now with Scandinavian architecture and Nordic architecture and furniture, stuff like that. And to give a special ambience about I think Nordic and especially Danish too has this coolness to it about the materials with wood and stuff like that, the detailing is very simple which is very Scandinavian. I think this is what he means by New Nordic cool, and of course this is the newest form of this. The New Nordic Cool is a new way of phrasing the Nordic Design aspects.

design in many ways and I think that is why we have that very strong design line in Denmark, we have had this design policy in our heads for many years from the government down and from companies too. There is a way you have to have a proper design in whatever you do, not only in buildings, but in chairs or in fittings. That is a tradition that has been here for a long time and that is why Danish design is as strong as it is.

JW: How does Danish design fit in with what would be classified as Scandinavian design? KN: I think Danish design is part Scandinavian design of course, but it is different in that for some reason… there is more of a tradition for design. Actually the Swedes

JW: How does the city feel about the Ørestad area?


KN: The plan is actually a plan by a Finnish architect. It was planned about 15 years ago when the thoughts were different than they are today. I think that the big failure

KN: The plan for Bella Sky was that the Bella Convention Center was there before the whole city evolved around it and to be honest is an archaic building mass out

the top where the sky box is so that when you come from seeing the building from the edge it is still quite. I think it does and it is living up to the idea of an iconic building for the

in the plan is that there isn’t very much life between the houses the plan is not designed about how you move about and how you meet your neighbors, there are no shops and so on. The plan is really lacking for life with the metro that is even lifted one floor up and is really dividing Ørestad in two. It is really a bad example of new planning there are really quite a few buildings in the complex that are quite okay but they can’t help that the master plan is not too good. We have done Bella Sky, and BIG’s projects for example, but most of the buildings are suffering from this lack of idea and the Mountain is really just a block plan so I think there needs to be something done about the Ørestad in the future. There should be something going on in the green

there. The client knew they wanted something outstanding over there, an icon, something that could take away from the notice of this big 120,000 flat mass and of course they wanted a hotel that could get their customers to the convention and most importantly be an icon for the area. Bella Sky is where two big roads meet, it is where the motorway comes into Copenhagen and where the road from Copenhagen comes out to Ørestad so this is the entrance to the Ørestad so it was very obvious to us that we could make a gesture, an icon that welcomes people when they come to Ørestad and even drive people out there from Copenhagen. The form idea came from the client’s need for 816 rooms and we had to be on a very small

Bella Center. It is attracting a lot of tourists to the hotel, it’s nearly always full, so the client is happy.

spaces between the big blocks. I suggested these small green house like, we call them colony housing, small summer houses between the big blocks, so that there would be a small scale where there would be activity and life but no kids will currently go down there. We need a smaller scale in-between the big scale.

site, so if we just made 2 straight forward towers half of the rooms would look into the other tower, but if we tilted the towers there would be more view out from the two towers and at the same time the form of the towers would become more iconic. Then we cladded the building with a pattern that took the two lines, tilting 15 degrees out with the vertical line, that became the pattern of the building. That was how it came, but there is more to the form than that. The form, I like very much. We did a sort of paper folded form that comes out from the two buildings, twisted a bit at

bottom, but if there were one in the middle it would just be going from some rooms to some other rooms, which is not really needed. If there was some other activity in the middle then it would be an idea, but there wasn’t. The bridge certainly changed a bit during the design process.

KB: How does Bella Sky fit into Ørestad and what were some design approaches for Bella Sky specifically?


KB: We saw in an earlier proposal that there were originally multiple bridges and were wondering what changed in the design to result in only two bridges? KN: There is only a need for 2 bridges. Of course, I would like 3 or 4 bridges, that would look good and it would be interesting to walk.. to be able to walk from one side to the other on more levels. But to be honest, there is only a need for one at the top and one at the bottom. So that was how we ended up with only 2 bridges. There is an obvious need for one going to the sky bar at the top and a need for one at the

KB: How would you say that Bella Sky relates to 3xn’s other projects? KN: Bella Sky is very much lined in how we do things. It’s funny cuz when we do a building like Bella Sky which does not have great

surroundings to take care of, we can work in a different than we would if we were in the center of a historic city. We would never do Bella Sky like this if we were in the center

KN: Well, it is tilting, ha. So of course that is a challenge in itself, some big forces coming from one end to the other, but as it is a hotel with a lot of fixed walls it was not as

there was nothing there, it was a big parking place and it was rainy and windy. Nobody liked to really be at the pier-head. Now there is shelter and it is like a piece of land art and

of Copenhagen because then we would try to connect to the city, but out there there’s nothing to connect to. This is what I described in the beginning about Ørestad, it’s lacking in identity essentially. I think Ørsetad needs something, an iconic building, to create an identity out there. But it is in connection to how we made the Saxo Bank or Middlefart or the Museum in Liverpool, it is driven out from the idea that we want people to come out there. When you see the interior of Bella Sky it is like a cityscape it’s more or less one floating way to the different bars and restaurants. The two lower floors they are created like a cityscape not like a room-to-room environment, but with this floating idea: if you have a cityscape with small plazas you’ll meet more people than if you

complicated as we thought to make the construction. What was difficult was that there were nearly 300 different rooms, so we had to design all of the rooms and the interior. So that was a bit more work than we expected, because of all of the corners, they are all different when you have the tilting facade.

you can go up and you can overlook the pier-head and you can look back to Liverpool and out the Mercy river from different levels and there’s big seating arrangement too from where you can sit and overlook events on the pier-head too. So the building in itself functions as much more than a museum, it is a meeting place and it is a nexus between all the different lines in the area. It is a crossing point where all the lines meet, and this was driving the design.

have room-to-room and corridors. I tried to leave out corridors as much as possible, but of course you had to have corridors in the rooms, but in the public areas there are big spaces connecting rather than corridors. The idea is driven out of this larger idea of behavior, that architecture should create possibilities of people meeting and interacting. At the same time, it is a very organic form and I am inspired by paper-folding.

Liverpool is telling the story about the harbor of Liverpool and there used to be a shipyard and it is a social place for the people of Liverpool, telling all the stories of the people of Liverpool. What has been driving this design, is… when we went to this site we thought maybe we shouldn’t even build here. So we decided we should add something that was not there before, something that adds positively to the site. Thom Mayne once said that you should not build anything if the place is not better after you build it. I think it is better now after the museum came up and before

EM: In terms of the technical side of Bella Sky, what were the greatest challenges you ran into?

EM: You mentioned Liverpool a bit in relation to Bella Sky and 3xn’s projects but if you could get a bit more into the relationship between the two projects?

JW: Of 3xn’s projects which do you find to be most important, particularly in terms of innovations and accomplishments?

KN: It is of course and should be very different from the Liverpool museum because Liverpool is a museum, in Liverpool. And this is a hotel in Copenhagen so there should be a big difference.

KN: It’s a difficult question because I like all my kids. They’re all different, and of course have something new to add. One thing that has been very important was the Ørestad college where in the interior this idea of how architecture creates behavior came up, at least for me. Actually, we got a new task to add to the roof of the building, to make a new skyline on the building. It is like a living organism that evolves and develops all the time. I’m out there nearly every week showing people around and seeing what’s happening. I’m following the education out there and we’re going to make a book about it. That building has been hugely important in the impact it 119

has. From the outside it’s not the most spectacular building we’ve made, but it has all of the ideas on the inside that I think architecture should do in a building. And it has

behavior in this building is learning and learning from each other. And it really works, now it’s been functioning for over 4 years, going into its fifth year no, and it is still one

was given to Gxn, of course as it was given to Gxn it is also given to 3xn because we are one thing, but it has come to Gxn because we have these research projects that they

influenced the ideas of buildings like Saxo Bank, Middelfart, and a new concert building in Holland we’re opening in a few months time. That building has been in it’s thinking has been very important, it is not the most advanced building in materials I think this is more in Horton with a facade that is shading itself and we learned how the form of the building could be very important in a sustainable way. Now we’re going to be working on a green school which is about vertical farming where the materials are going to be bio-composite materials and taking all of the other ideas about behavior or whatever into this environment as well while using new materials. All the buildings should be an evolution from one project to the next, there gradually becomes more and more

of the most popular schools. I think we learned a lot from there.

would like to have in their green school. So things are ping ponging forward and backward which I think is exciting.

advanced than what you have done and what you will do. This is what we try to achieve.

architecture, and how it can influence in an office environment: how they work together, cooperate. This has really developed and now it’s a ping-pong between the architecture and Gxn. We learn something in Gxn that we can use in the architecture department and this ping-pongs foreword and backward. It really drives us forward in a way we wouldn’t if we didn’t have Gxn. And of course we now have the news of all the newest materials because we are developing materials ourself. We also now get projects because of Gxn, for example, the vertical farm building

KB: Can you talk a bit about how Gxn relates to 3xn? KN: We started Gxn over four years ago, five years ago now actually… as a little department where we monitored what was happening in the world regarding materials and new technologies. Jesper got into contact with all different universities and a lot of interesting people, and now we are into real research where we are more than 10 research projects researching it by a complex system, and now we are actually researching architecture and behavior. There is a book in progress about behavior and

JW: In the Ørestad College, would you say that is where this idea of architecture influencing behavior came up? KN: Yeah, definitely. We had done it before of course but this building is a generator for education this is where the students really interact and learn from each other. All the ideas that I had about how architects can influence peoples behavior, and of course the 120

[An interview of Jesper Malmkjær (Bella Sky project manager) directed towards project information and details was also written and conducted by Kyle Baumgardner, Elliot Mistur, and Jenni Wilga]



BELLA CENTER, CENTER BLVD. 5 DK-2300 KOBENHAVEN S airport 7km from hotel CLIENT: Bella Center A/S 42,000 SQUARE METERS two 76.5 meter towers, 23 stories tower 1: 16,280 m2 tower 2: 20,187 m2 [remaining area housed in bases] COST: $320,000,000 4-STAR HOTEL 200/814 UNIQUE ROOMS facilitates 1000+ guests 32 meeting rooms ENGINEERING: Rambøll, consultant: Grontmij, construction required the co- ordination of 30 different contractors FACADE MANUFACTURER: Skaninaviska Glassystem, http://www. 2000+ pre-fab facade modules INTERIOR DESIGN: TEA [Thomas Eriksson Arkitekter], theme: “New Nordic Cool” 5 restaurants/bars lounges SIGNAGE: SDL [Stockholm Design Lab], http://www.stockholmdesignlab. se/ 3Xn designed the hotel, rooms, reception area and conference facilities.


3xn TEAM: Kim Herforth Nielsen, Bo Boje Larsen, Jan Ammundsen, Marie Hesseldahl Larsen, Maiken Schmidt Nielsen, Børge Motland, Svend Roald Jensen, Jørgen Søndermark, Bodil Nordstrøm, Anne Strandgaard, Jesper Brink Malmkjær, Martin Rejnholt Frederiksen, Stine de Bang, Kasper Hertz, Martin Jonsbak Nielsen, Mads Leth Jensen, Robin Vind Christiansen, Jakob Ohm Laursen, Thomas Bang Jespersen, Søren Nersting, Esther Bernhard Clemmensen, Anja Pedersen, Jens Martin Højrup, Turid Ohlsson, Anders Bak, Helle Westergaard, Noel Wibrand, Ida Linea Danielsson, Claus Kofoed, Olaf Kunert, Andreas Herborg Nielsen.


BIBLIOGRAPHY Such, Robert. “3XN Turns a Brownfield into a Green Roof.” Architectural Record 196, no. 3 (2008): 36. Cava, John. “Investigate, Ask, Tell, Draw, Build: 3XN Architects [by] Matteo Cainer [Book Review].” Arcade 27, no. 2 (2008): 38-38-39. Chodikoff, Ian. “Pragmatic Utopia.” The Canadian Architect 53, no. 2 (2008): 36-36-41. O’Shaughnessy, Jason. “Interview Kim Nielsen: “Translating the Translator”.” Architecture Ireland no. 247 (2009): 7474-76. Young, Eleanor. “Hello, Goodbye: Kim Nielsen.” RIBA Journal 114, no. 12 (2007): 24-24-25. “Project Watch: Bella Sky Hotel A New Landmark in Copenhagen Skyline.” MGS Architecture (Aug 04, 2011): n/a. Reis, Michael. “New Liverpool Landmark is Defined by Jura Limestone.” Stone World 27, no. 3 (2010): 84-84,86,88,90,92. Heathcote, Edwin. “A Dock and a Hard Place.” Financial Times, Jul 16, 2011. International VELUX Award Announces 2010 Jury. United States, New York: PR Newswire Association LLC, 2010. “MILAN FURNITURE FAIR: Middle-Aged Spread.” Building Design no. 00073423 (Apr 21, 2011): 10. Harwood, Susie. “Open for Business.” Conference and Incentive Travel no. 0965125 (2010): 63-63-64. wiqacz. “3XN Architects on Vimeo.” Vimeo, Video Sharing For You. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Sept. 2011. <http://vimeo. com/2993322>. O’Shaughnessy, Jason. “Interview Kim Nielsen: “Translating the Translator”.” Architecture Ireland no. 247 (2009): 7474-76. “Nielsen, Nielsen & Nielsen: Sede Central De La DGI, Vejle, Dinamarca = DGI Headquarters, Vejle, Denmark.” AV Monografías = AV Monographs no. 55 (1995): 118-118-[121]. Capezzuto, Rita. “Berger + Parkkinen, Nielsen, Nielsen & Nielsen, VIVA Arkkitechtuuri, Pálmar Kristmundsson, Snøhetta, Wingårdh Arkitektkontor: Ambasciate Dei Paesi Nordici, Berlino = the Nordic Embassies in Berlin.” Domus no. 828 (2000): 44-44-[57]. Søndermark, Jørgen. “The Royal Danish Embassy [Berlin]: Nielsen, Nielsen & Nielsen AS.” Arkkitehti 96, no. 6 (1999): 51-51. Davey, Peter. “Architects’ House.” Architectural Review 200, no. 1198 (1996): 40-40-45. 124

“ 3XN Designed Bella Sky Hotel to be a New Landmark on Copenhagen Skyline - eVolo | Architecture Magazine.” eVolo | Architecture Magazine. (accessed September 10, 2011). “The Bella Chandelier for Bella Sky Hotel | GXN of 3XN architects : plusMOOD.” plusMOOD. http://plusmood. com/2011/04/the-bella-chandelier-for-bella-sky-hotel-3xn-architects/ (accessed September 10, 2011). “3XN Architects | Bella Sky Hotel |” (accessed September 10, 2011). “3XN: bella sky hotel.” designboom. (accessed September 10, 2011). “3XN’s Bella Sky Hotel Opens Today as the New Nordic Home | News | Archinect.” Archinect | Connecting Architects Since 1997. (accessed September 10, 2011). “3xn architects’ Museum of Liverpool and Bella Sky Hotel are shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Award.” Aug 26th, 2011. 3xn architects. Front page. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen, Bella Hotel, Architect, Bella Hotel Copenhagen.” Architecture News, World Architects, Building News, Architectural News, World Buildings. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bella Sky by 3XN, SDL, and TEA | MUDEO.” MUDEO | MUDEO is a multidisciplinary design office based around Boston. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bustler: 3XN’s Bella Sky Hotel Opens Today as the New Nordic Home.” Bustler: Architecture Competitions, Events & News. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Denmark’s New Bella Sky Hotel Boasts a Stunning Green Interior 3XN Bella Sky Hotel – Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World.” Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World. (accessed September 10, 2011). Rosenberg, Andrew. “Bella Sky Hotel / 3XN Architects.” International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex, Commodities - International Business Times - articles/152913/20110526/bella-sky-hotel-3xn-architects.htm (accessed September 10, 2011). “3xn architects’ Museum of Liverpool and Bella Sky Hotel are shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival Award.” Aug 26th, 2011. 3xn architects. Front page.


den-prestigefyldte-waf-pris (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bella Sky Hotel, Copenhagen, Bella Hotel, Architect, Bella Hotel Copenhagen.” Architecture News, World Architects, Building News, Architectural News, World Buildings. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bella Sky by 3XN, SDL, and TEA | MUDEO.” MUDEO | MUDEO is a multidisciplinary design office based around Boston. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Bustler: 3XN’s Bella Sky Hotel Opens Today as the New Nordic Home.” Bustler: Architecture Competitions, Events & News. (accessed September 10, 2011). “Denmark’s New Bella Sky Hotel Boasts a Stunning Green Interior 3XN Bella Sky Hotel – Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World.” Inhabitat - Green Design Will Save the World. (accessed September 10, 2011). Rosenberg, Andrew. “Bella Sky Hotel / 3XN Architects.” International Business News, Financial News, Market News, Politics, Forex, Commodities - International Business Times - articles/152913/20110526/bella-sky-hotel-3xn-architects.htm (accessed September 10, 2011). “The Fox Is Black: Bella Sky Hotel by 3XN Architects.” The Fox Is Black. (accessed September 10, 2011). Vinnitskaya, Irina. “In Progress: Bella Sky / 3XN | ArchDaily.” ArchDaily | Broadcasting Architecture Worldwide. http:// (accessed September 10, 2011).


IMAGE CREDITS 108.1 - Adam Mørk 108.2 - Finn Christofferson 108.3 - Finn Christofferson 108.4 - Finn Christofferson 108.5 - Adam Mørk 108.6 - Finn Christofferson 108.7 - Adam Mørk 108.8 - Adam Mørk 109.1 - Finn Christofferson 109.2 - Adam Mørk 109.3 - Adam Mørk 109.4 - Adam Mørk 109.5 - Adam Mørk 109.6 - Adam Mørk 109.7 - Adam Mørk 109.8 - Adam Mørk 109.9 - Adam Mørk 109.10 - Finn Christofferson 110.1 - 110.2 - Adam Mørk 110.3 - Finn Christofferson 110.4 - Adam Mørk 110.5 - 110.6 - Finn Christofferson 110.7 -

110.8 - Adam Mørk 110.9 - Adam Mørk 110.10 - Adam Mørk

114.1 - 114.2 - 114.3 - 114.4 -

111.1 - Adam Mørk 111.2 - Finn Christofferson 111.3 - Adam Mørk 111.4 - Adam Mørk 111.5 - Adam Mørk 111.6 - Adam Mørk 111.7 -

114.5 - 114.6 - 114.7 - Adam Mørk

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116.1 - H.10 - en/#/home/GXN/rd_projects/ 116.1 - I.10 - en/#/home/GXN/rd_projects/

113.1 - Finn Christofferson 113.2 - Finn Christofferson 113.3 - 113.4 - 113.5 - Adam Mørk 113.6 - Adam Mørk 113.7 - 113.8 - 113.9 - Finn Christofferson 113.10 - Finn Christofferson

115.8 - 115.9 - 115.10 -

117.1 - J.10 - en/#/home/GXN/rd_projects/ 118.1 - K.10 - en/#/home/GXN/rd_projects/

QUOTATIONS 16. Kim Nielsen



3xn - Bella Sky  
3xn - Bella Sky  

A research book exploring the work of the Danish firm 3XN