SEB Bank hq
The SEB Bank headquarters consists of two office-‘towers’ with rounded corners on a noisy corner. It shows that Danish architecture evolved to be more varied and less boxy than 10-15 years earlier.
The Swedish owners, Svenska Enskilda Banken, occupy one tower for their own Danish headquarters. And they rent out the other tower to other companies.
The SEB Bank project sits on a busy corner, with thousands of cars, trucks and buses heading in and out of the city throughout the day. This is the main connection to the mainland in the west or to Sweden in the east.
To such a constant flow of traffic, the rounded corners seem like an appropriate gesture. But they are also characteristic of a new and more playful approach.
Comparing with the buildings along the waterfront in this area, it is obvious, that something changed since the late 1990s. They are mostly rectangular, rational, and efficient boxes, that exercise an abstract aesthetic with refined materials and detailing. But they are lacking sensibility to the surroundings and people passing by.
One decade later, Danish architecture shows much more variety. For instance, this project combines a soft and sensitive, rounded geometry with the typically Danish priority of detailing and material.
The architects, Lundgaard & Tranberg, are true masters of this ‘reformed traditionalism’. Others, with Bjarke Ingels (BIG) as the most prominent exponent, represents a more radical, conceptual approach.
Rough and refined
In both towers, the layout wraps a glass skin around cylindrical cores. These concrete cylinders make up the main structure while housing stairs and elevators, toilets, installations etc. They were cast in a special sliding mould process, in one uninterrupted flow around the clock for 2 weeks. This method gives a ‘seamless’ and stronger casting – that also happens to look great without plastering or paint.
Inside the generous lobby, it’s clear how the exterior concrete landscape continues inside. This extraordinary integration of the landscape project (The City Dune by SLA) and the building interior is just plain brilliant.
The office workspaces on upper floors are distributed along with the facade. Towards the cores, in the middle of the building, circular cut-outs connect vertically through office floors. It’s a stunning space, with the skylight emphasising the rough concrete tubes.