The significance of natural light cannot be overstated for modern day architecture. Three Danish architectural brands tell their stories of how they have embodied natural daylight in their work.
The Crystal by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
This geometrical and glazed form is resting on a single point, visually floating as a light, crystalline structure with a plaza underneath it. The plaza features a water pool that mirrors the movement of the sun and clouds in the sky.
The pool is illuminated at night by a soft turquoise-green light, which, together with the patterns of warm light from lighting masts, brings a unique ambience to the plaza.
Kim Holst Jensen, Partner and Design Director at Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects, describes The Crystal:
“The glass façade reflects the daylight and it features an integrated sunscreen, which adapts to the changing light from the outside. The outer glazing system incorporates a silk print design that softens solar ingress and enlivens the ambience of the harbor area.”
The Crystal – or “Krystallen” in Danish – is an extension of the existing Schmidt Hammer Lassen-designed Nykredit office on the waterfront in Copenhagen.
Royal Arena by 3XN Architects
When designing Royal Arena one crucial parameter for 3XN Architects was that there should be a natural connection with the urban environment. Therefore they picked an alternative starting point in terms of the design and chose to open up the arena to its surroundings. This open structure gives homage to natural light and how it changes with the seasons.
Behind the iconic wooden fins, a light glass-aluminium façade contributes to the elegant expression of the design and makes beautiful use of natural lighting in the foyer and halls of the arena. A panoramic view over Ørestaden presents itself to visitors, while passers-by can observe the indoor activities. This transparency creates shared experiences and brings life to the local area.
Also, the roof of the arena enjoys an organic expression with the light, where vertical wooden “fins” create a “dancing” imagery, enclosing the building in a wave-like motion. These fins give the building a certain feeling of warmth, while it still retains an elegant appearance in accordance with the Nordic tradition of simplicity and quality in design.
“Royal Arena is not, like most traditional arenas, located on the outskirts of the city; it sits amidst a dense residential urban area surrounded by housing and businesses. Our most important question before starting out the Royal Arena project was therefore: How do we design a good neighbour for this area? From the beginning, it was central to 3XN to create an intimate symbiosis between the building and the community, activating the building’s surroundings and offering new opportunities for those who live and work adjacent to the building. In all its facets, the arena is designed to be a ‘good neighbour’ and central to this was the idea of ‘putting people first’,” says Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founder and Creative Director at 3XN Architects.
Moesgaard Museum by Henning Larsen Architects
In Moesgaard Museum, the daylight naturally guide the guests around the building and its exhibitions. The foyer lets in the daylight from the roof and the big windows of the façades. This light lures visitors to ascend from the subterranean display rooms back into the main hall of the museum.
Along the tall front side of the building visitors can take a well-deserved break from their tour of history and re-fuel on daylight energy in specific break-out spaces.
“The use of daylight has played a vital role in terms of the design and user experience as it creates a natural flow throughout a visitor’s entire tour of Moesgaard Museum” tells Jakob Strømann-Andersen, Partner & Head of Sustainability Engineering at Henning Larsen Architects.
University of Aberdeeen Library by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects
The University of Aberdeen Library is the fifth-oldest English-language university in the world, serving a community of 14.000 students, and comprising 1.200 reading spaces alongside archives, historical collections and a rare books reading room.
Visual lightness, combined with its proportionality, materials palette and clean lines, gives the 10-storey building a timeless quality. A large organic opening cuts through the floors at every level, creating a continuous visual connection throughout the full height of the building. The atrium is the central hub of the building and stands in high contrast to the orthogonal geometry of the exterior.
“The façade is designed to serve as a climate buffer, changing in response to specific qualities of light or images projected onto it. Consisting of an irregular pattern of insulated panels and high-performance glazing, the façade shimmers during the day and glows softly at night, creating a luminous landmark for the city of Aberdeen.” says Morten Schmidt, Founding Partner at Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects.
Segerstedthuset by 3XN Architects
The atrium – or ‘light hall’ as it is referred to in Swedish – is the central unifying room of a building, both day and night, where the integrated designed light gradually replaces the natural daylight as the evening descends. During the daytime, when the sun hits the varying façades of the building, the contrast in light creates unique rooms and well-lit working environments, which reduces the need for artificial light during the day.
The words above describe the latest thing in the development of the new campus for Uppsala University called Segerstedthuset. The new building opened in 2017 and it gives the University a new international working environment to perform research and deliver education with a strong focus on cooperation and efficiency.
Illuminated by natural daylight and enclosed by walkways and open meeting rooms, the atrium also features a centrally located main staircase. Here the skylight is softened by passing through silkscreen glass in the roof, and is reflected onto the sculptural truss structures and downwards to the bright parapet sections and into the distinct storeys.
“With a flexible design and integrated environments, Segerstedthuset lives up to Uppsala University’s ambition of creating a modern workplace that facilitates new ways of working, studying and interacting. At the same time, the building catalyzes life and internal cohesion throughout the entire campus by housing integrated public and semi-public facilities. Its elegant design includes an extrovert façade and three added urban spaces: an entrance area in front of the building, an inner space in the building’s ground floor, for exhibitions, information, and events, and a park with outdoor seating in the sun that connects the city to the campus,” tells Kim Herforth Nielsen, Founder and Creative Director at 3XN Architects.