The United Nations (UN) officially has a new home in Copenhagen with the inauguration of UN City, the organisation’s new regional head office in Copenhagen.
The design has been derived directly from the identity and values that the UN espouses, literally reaching outwards into its surroundings and also metaphorically towards all the parts of the world.
The building volume is shaped as an 8-point star with each individual point stemming from a central atrium space. Within this space there is a sculptural staircase which is symbolic of the global dialogue that the UN would like to create at the heart of the organisation.
UN City is located on an artificial island in the north of the city’s centre, and with this unique project Danish architects 3XN have created a design which reflects the independent, efficient and professional nature of each UN unit.
This is emphasised by the natural separation of its location, ensuring that the building is visible from all directions. Inspiration was taken from the immediate surroundings for the materiality of the building, such as the burnished steel base on which the main volume sits, mimicking the rusty pier edges nearby.
The cladding of the façades is formed of white perforated aluminium shutters, designed specifically for UN City by 3XN and contractor Pihl. The modular nature of the building enables the shutters to be controlled by their users and results in a significantly improved internal environment whilst maintaining a dynamic exterior skin.
The atrium which sits at the core connects all the facilities within UN City. Flooded with daylight, the central staircase binds together all the floors through this dramatic, sculptural form.
The intention behind the design stemmed from random meetings that form in circulation spaces and harnessing this as a basis for dialogue, cooperation and informal meetings between the various UN organisations that occupy the building. The offices on every floor are characterised by flexible, open layouts which encourage group interactions while also enabling individuals to work alone.
With each work station having access to high levels of daylight and an optimum indoor climate, the interior environment enables occupants to work comfortably and efficiently. This is further improved by green recreational areas which carry sustainable features including solar panels, seawater cooling systems and advanced water efficiency innovations.
As a result, UN City is expected to become one of the country’s most energy-efficient buildings with a sustainability rating of LEED Platinum. It has also been awarded the prestigious Green Building Award 2012 by the European Commission.