Danish architecture, Kengo Kuma and Associates, Waterfront Culture Centre Copenhagen

Kengo Kuma & Associates to design Copenhagen’s new Waterfront Culture Centre

Kengo Kuma & Associates, led by Yuki Ikeguchi, partner in charge, has recently won a competition to design the new Waterfront Culture Centre as part of the masterplan for Copenhagen’s Paper Island, designed in collaboration with  Cornelius+Vöge Aps (associate architects), Søren Jensen Engineers (engineering design) and Niels Sigsgaard (consulting architect). The firm competed against such big names as BIG, 3XN Architects, AART Archtitects + Cubo Arkitekter and ALA Architects + Studio Octopi.

The design aims to highlight the significance of water in history, culture and vibrant urban life in the city. The unique cone shaped form will combine facilities for sports associations, harbour baths and an indoor/outdoor pool along the edge of the main canal, creating a connection between land and sea. The Waterfront Culture Centre maintains Kengo Kuma’s philosophy for integrating natural elements into the architecture and engaging with the environment.

According to the submission by Kengo Kuma & Associates, the new Waterfront Culture Centre will celebrate water through its different forms: steam, flow and the reflection of light and shadow. Each of the indoor pools will be defined by the exaggerated scale of the space above, corresponding to the separate pyramid shaped roofs. Between the coned forms, a valley will be created in which an open-air pool will pass through.


The design will take full advantage of the prominent corner site in the masterplan; terraced pools will cascade down the waterfront to blur the edge of the land for an expansive and continuous perception of the water. Outside, an urban experience is enabled through the open public areas unified and defined by the water.

Shadow and light will be a key part of the expression of the pools as each of the pyramid forms will have a skylight at the top for a dramatic play of light and shadow reflecting off the water. The haptic texture of the interior and exterior will be further exaggerated by the use of brick and the warm, natural earthy tones that will relate to the traditional Danish crafts.