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Architect on tour: Max in Copenhagen


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Max Herriot at the Danish Maritime Museum designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) where, in the cafe, a selection of at least twenty types of sardines (on toast) feature highly on the menu and can be eaten sitting on the haunches of the historic dry dock.
Copenhagen bikes

Earlier in the year, Wellington director Max Herriot spent two months in Scandinavia soaking up the architecture and art; steaming in saunas and discovering cold swimming.

In the first of his blogs on the trip, Max shares highlights of his favourite projects and experiences. 

copenhagen art
Ron Mueck, Boy, 1999. Collection of ARoS.

Boy's hyperrealistic form measures 4.5 metres in height and weighs in at 500kg. 

Within the bowels of the Aarhus Kunstmuseum (ARoS) is this large-scale sculpture by Australian artist Ron Mueck. ‘Boy’ has become one of the landmarks of ARoS.

The Aarhus Kunstmuseum opened in 2004, designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen. 


copenhagen graffiti

Graffiti is well celebrated in Copenhagen.

The ends of apartment blocks and blank building walls are considered fair game for graffiti artists, and the authorities appear to run with it. There has traditionally been much debate about foreigners and refugees within the country.

In 2002, posters with the caption ‘Foreigners Please Don’t Leave Us Alone With The Danes’ appeared in Copenhagen providing commentary on the increasingly reactionary immigration policies at the time – we now have a framed copy of this print hanging in our living room back here in Wellington.


public amenities
The rooftop of the ARoS Kunstmuseum

Any contemporary building in Denmark exploits its rooftop ...

The ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum's rooftop has a  360 degree observation installation that floats above the landscape outdoor areas below.


apartments 3

In the southern part of the city, large areas of inland waterways have been reclaimed as part of a continuing drive to provide residential accommodation with the city suburbs. These three-storey units are lower scale than the average five to six-storey blocks in the area.

House Boats

house boats

In the same area south of the city - who wouldn’t want to live on this houseboat complete with floating man shed and transport options?


swimming pools
The Snail

Typically, the inner harbour amenities include a variety of pools, diving platforms and saunas.

Nicknamed the ‘Snail’, this swimming facility is one of several located along the coast and within the inner harbour of the city of Copenhagen. 

With its open sea focus, The Snail provides both wind and wave shelter for its sunbathing decks and diving platforms.

Contemporary art galleries

Copenhagen Contemporary is a large-scale avant-garde gallery that displays installations in the old industrial areas of Refen.

copenhagen galleries
Copenhagen Contemporary

Housed within a vast old welding factory/workshop – remodelled by architect Dorthe Mandrup – the gallery was exhibiting lighting installations by a couple of celebrated American artists Doug Wheeler and James Turrel.

The Danes must love James Turrel as the Aarhus Modern Art Gallery (AROS) is currently building a massive extension to their current building to accommodate a new light installation project .


Another strategically placed piece of graffiti in a wetland area south of the city: ‘The Human Race Is Never Forever’.

Public amenities

public amenity v2
Public toilet in Amager Strandpark

Copenhagen features many well-designed public toilet facilities. Generally, they're crisp, textured, dark and, as a result, recessive. This one is located in Amager Strandpark, a popular beachside spot for Copenhagenites.


A cantilevered platform hovering above the main pedestrianised street of Aarhus alludes to activities on the roof.

roof top
The Salling rooftop in Aarhus

This family-owned department store building (Salling) successfully pulls people through its five floors of merchandise up to a fully terraced and landscaped rooftop with bars, food outlets and live music.

apartments 2
Malmo apartment development

Malmo in Sweden, a short train ride across and under the strait that separates Denmark from Sweden, has a redeveloped harbour frontage complete with high-density contemporary apartment accommodation.

Collaborative community centres

libraries and community centres
The Tingbjerg Library and Culture House

… a great example of co-sharing between local education and community facilities.

The Tingbjerg Library and Culture House, designed by COBE, is a very clever cultural centre within the Copenhagen suburb of Tingbjerg. It was built as an extension of an existing school, enabling the school to have full access to its facilities.

The building comprises a library as well as a cultural centre and cafe, workshops, meeting facilities and a multipurpose hall. In return, the public can access the school out of hours and use its swimming pool facilities.