Water Culture House – Papirøen

Copenhagen, DK 2017-2025

Public - 1st prize invited competition

Kengo Kuma and Associates (Lead coulsuntant), Cornelius Vöge, Søren Jensen rådg. ing. After tender in turn key contract: MT Højgaard, Buro Happold, Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects

5000 m2

Ejendomsfonden Vandkulturhuset Papirøen


The water and harbor front are an intrinsic part of urban life in Copenhagen, which is used throughout the year in a huge variety of ways. The new water culture house, an aquatics centre located in the heart of the harbor, seeks to celebrate the significance of water in the history, culture and life of the inhabitants of Copenhagen.

The project is situated on Papirøen, as part of an overall masterplan to develop the entire island into a diverse mixture of residential, office and public space. The aquatics centre is located on a prominent corner site, which required a multi-directional building that acknowledged the historical surrounding context of the Christiansholmer roofs, the new masterplan proposal, and the distinctiveness of such a site.

The building is conceived as a sculptural cluster of 5 “pyramids”, constructed from yellow-toned bricks, responding to the surrounding context. Slices and perforations within the façade create beautiful light patterns, both internally and externally, and provides spectacular views across the city for visitors to the building. A ribbon of glass at the ground floor encircles the building, creating a vast, open, public space, where views of the harbour can still be enjoyed by those swimming inside the building. Outside, terraced pools cascade down to meet the open water of the harbour. Nestled within the roof structure, an outdoor “valley pool” can be found, providing a truly unique, elemental experience.

Alongside swimming facilities, the building also offers a gym, and rooms for sport associations and clubs.

Kengo Kuma and Associates, Cornelius Vöge and Søren Jensen won the invited competition in 2017. Cornelius Vöge has performed design and ICT management until engagement of turn key contractor based on tender material (outline proposal and design manual).