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Rem Koolhaas – OMA | BLOX – Copenhagen

Place: Copenhagen, Country: Denmark
Architect: Rem Koolhaas - OMA
Local architects: C.F. Møller
Client: Realdania Byg
Structural design: Arup + Cowi
Text by Riccardo Bianchini
images courtesy of BLOX, OMA, and DAC

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The BLOX design hub in Copenhagen by Rem Koolhaas – Office for Metropolitan Architecture

BLOX is a new mixed-use center, recently opened in the Brewery Site (Bryghusgrunden) district in central Copenhagen, overlooking the Danish capital’s harbor.

Aimed to become a new creative hub for architecture, design, and new ideas, and developed by Danish philanthropic association Realdania, the center, designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas – Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), accommodates various functions, including a new home for the Danish Architecture Center (DAC), spaces for meetings and special events, dwellings, offices, restaurants and cafes, playgrounds, recreational outdoor areas, a bicycle park, an underground automatic car stacker, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge which connects the new venue with the city’s center.

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BLOX shortly after opening to the public, in May 2018. Photos Rasmus Hjortshøj

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Aerial view. Photo Luftphoto / BLOX

Background and architectural design
The idea to create a design hub in the area firstly emerged in 2006, shortly after the client selected Rem Koolhaas / OMA as the architect to design the new venue; Koolhaas and Realdania developed the project, from a conceptual stage to the final design, between 2007 and 2013. On-site works started in May 2013.

Encompassing six stories, one of which partially underground, the building by Koolhaas is composed of an array of boxes of blocks (hence its name) stacked on one another to form an articulated and “porous” cluster.

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Original renderings, and an architectural model of BLOX by OMA

A 20 meter-wide covered passageway throughout the ground floor of the building, flanked by the main entrances of all functions, creates a direct connection between the city and the old port of Copenhagen and emphasizes the BLOX’s character of  “urban activator” open to all.

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The covered passageway which forms the functional “backbone” of BLOX

Built around a vehicular tunnel, the 180,000 square-foot building is based on a square footprint, measuring 262 x 262 feet, and will be 85 feet high, overall.
The load-bearing structure of the BLOX is composed of a structural steel frame supporting horizontal slabs made in reinforced concrete and corrugated metal.

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Rendering, schematic views, and cross-sections of the center

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The structural steel frame of the building under construction

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Plans of the underground level and ground floor

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The new home of the DAC
As already mentioned, a large part of the center is occupied by the Danish Architecture Center, possibly the most important institution in Denmark dedicated to building and urban design.

The centerpiece of the new DAC is a double-height, naturally-lit, main exhibition hall located right in the middle of the complex and encircled by various spaces, including a second double-height gallery – called exhibition box – a special event space, an auditorium, offices, meeting rooms, a large underground storage, a cafeteria, a restaurant, and a bookshop.

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Renderings of the main exhibition hall of the DAC

The new venue “will set a whole new international standard for the involvement of the public in the propagation of architecture and urban development. For example, the building provides completely new options for the creation of major exhibitions and events, as well as unique facilities for educational programmes for schoolchildren and students, directly connected to outdoor play and teaching environments”. (Kent Martinussen, Danish Architecture Center).

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images courtesy of BLOX, OMA, and DAC

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DAC – Danish Architecture Center
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DAC Danish Architecture Center – Dansk Arkitektur Center in Copenhagen is the main institution in Denmark exclusively focused on architecture & urban design


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