The Crystal by SHL (Schmidt Hammer Lassen)

The Crystal in Copenhagen by SHL Schmidt Hammer and Lassen

The Crystal by SHL (Schmidt Hammer Lassen)

On a triangular site, ‘The Crystal, a crystalline glass-prism seeks to open up and attract pedestrian bypassers.

Technical and formal complexity

Like the SEB Bank buildings nearby, this building demonstrates a higher formal complexity and attention to context and urban space.

This is an extension to the existing headquarter of a bank, Nykredit, in the neighbouring building (towards the water). That is a pretty stern looking cube, designed by the same architects (opened in 2000). When comparing the two, the architectural shift in this period is striking.

Although ‘the Crystal’ is not gently soft like the SEB Bank towers, it’s shaped to accommodate public passage and visual connection under the building and kids playing in the fountain in the summer. 

It was also an early building to feature more than one or a few technologies to reduce its environmental impact. Its advanced glass facade integrates sunscreen and regulates temperatures of the ventilation air. Furthermore, the roof collects rainwater for cooling and toilet flushing, and the building utilises water from the harbour for cooling.

A complex, rhombic steel structure keeps the interior spaces flexible and free of columns. By resting on only a few points, this structure lifts up the building to allow passage underneath.

So, whenever I get the opportunity, I route our bike tours under the belly of the beast. Although it may seem banal, it never fails to amuse participants of any age. It’s a sympathetic gesture to engage the public and take into account the impact of the building on the city.

SLA landscape architects designed the open space in front with a circular basin and rows of water jets that changes through the course of the day and attracts kids to play.

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