Architecture I 30.04.18 I by

OMA creates Blox – a jenga-like new design hub in Copenhagen

OMA has built a series of stacked boxes on Copenhagen’s harbour front housing Blox: a new design and architecture hub in of the capital’s oldest neighbourhoods.

The Dutch practice’s staggered volumes in the Bryghusgrunden district will open to the public next week, after ten years in the making. Blox provides a new home for The Danish Center for Architecture (DAC) and the freshly minted Blox Hub, a 10,000 sqm coworking space for creatives on the building’s central floors. Also within the structure is new café/restaurant, a fitness centre, and 22 rental apartments on its two top floors.

OMA creates Blox – a jenga-like new design hub in Copenhagen
BLOX bridges. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

The programme is organised around a heavily trafficked road that flows through the building on ground level. OMA’s partner in charge of the project, Ellen Van Loon, describes it as an ‘inhabited highway intersection’.

Yet, despite the presence of cars, a cohort of new public spaces around and through the building add to the life of the Blox. This includes an ample public passage which runs from the city centre underneath the trafficked road, culminating in a harbour front. ‘I wanted to take people through the building’, explains Van Loon.

OMA creates Blox – a jenga-like new design hub in Copenhagen
BloxHub Arena. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

According to Adrianne Fischer, the office’s project director, this passage is meant to be a ‘continuous public space, with round the clock access’, truly opening up the plot to the city and providing a varied experience to its visitors. The Blox also features a playground for all ages adjacent to a new city square and a new harbour promenade.

The Blox’s ‘stacked box’ composition is designed to create fluid spaces between its different functions, offering multiple ways to peek into each other’s activities – between the Blox Hub’s flexible office floors and DAC’s changing exhibition spaces, the restaurant and the busy traffic road flowing through the building, and the gym and harbour promenade.

OMA creates Blox – a jenga-like new design hub in Copenhagen
The DAC exhibition hall. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Van Loon stresses the importance of a mixed-use building in Denmark, where private functions are normally not visible to the public. The multitude of functions is reflected in a glass facade that alternates in transparency and tones of green and darker grey.

In its new home, the DAC hopes to increase its annual visitors to 200,000 from its current 60,000, as well as increasing their youth programme.

OMA creates Blox – a jenga-like new design hub in Copenhagen
Bloxhub social space. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Located at the intersection between Copenhagen Cultural District and the Cultural Harbour Ring, the Blox joins the Black Diamond and the developments planned on the opposite Paper Island, a series of interventions along the harbour front that will gradually bring it to life.

The final piece of the Blox puzzle will slot into place with the opening of a pedestrian and cycle bridge in autumn 2018.

Read next: Copenhagen Contemporary to drop anchor at Refshaleøen Island this summer

Catarina is a Portuguese architect and freelance journalist based in Norway

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