University Post
University of Copenhagen
Independent of management


The best (and worst) of Copenhagen architecture

Castles, glass masterpieces, eco-living - or just plain drab and dull. We got students from Copenhagen's School of Architecture to weigh in on what's worth looking at, and what's not

Every now and then, the sun may graciously offer sunshine to go out and explore the beautiful (or not so beautiful) architecture.

Copenhagen is touted for contemporary architecture that sits well with its historic buildings. So we wanted to find out what is worth seeing and what not.

The University Post met up with some students at the architecture school – officially the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts – School of Architecture, Design and Conservation – and asked for their opinions on Copenhagen’s ups and downs.

From ‘ugly duckling’, to ‘million-dollar baby’, to ‘what were they thinking?’ Our architecture students ended up with the following nominees: (See pictures of them after each of the nominees and in the gallery below)

1. The Opera House (Operaen)

The Ugly Duckling of Copenhagen The A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller’s Foundation probably meant well when they offered the staggering DKK 2.3 billion to build a new opera house for the Danish folk, but turns out that Danes are not so pleased with the building after all. Magnus Holm, first year architecture student, says ”it doesn’t fit the surroundings, is very unwelcoming and doesn’t even have a single window that could be opened”. Second year students Marie Hvidaa Hjørnholm, Mathilde Schwarz-Nielsen and Rie Hansen agree that the architects forgot to make it fit in with the area.

Go and see for yourself: Ekvipagemestervej 10, 1438 Copenhagen S

1. The Opera House – The Ugly Duckling of Copenhagen
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by NewsØresund – Johan Wessman)

2. Tietgenkollegiet

I Would Die to Live There! Sitting nicely in the UCPH Faculty of Humanities campus, known as KUA, this dormitory catches the eyes of hundreds of students passing by every day. Word of mouth is that it very difficult to score a spot in this kollegium, and it is no wonder. It was designed by one of the most renowned architectural firms in Denmark, Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter, and was built in 2006. It attracts students all over Copenhagen with its unique round shape and the communal courtyard that represents the core concept behind this student residence – community. Fifth year architecture student, Lars Meldgaard, points it out as well, saying ”it is pleasantly introverted from the world, but yet so extroverted for others to see.”

Rued Langgaards Vej 10-18, 2300 Copenhagen S

2. Tietgenkollegiet – I would die to live there!
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by NewsØresund – Johan Wessman)

3. Danish Industry Building

What Was the Architect Thinking?. While you’re strolling down H.C. Andersens Boulevard by the inner city of Copenhagen, it is impossible not to notice a huge glass façade in the midst of classic Danish architecture. Actually, The Confederation of Danish Industry’s building used to be made of brick, just as the others in the area, but renovation was completed just a few months ago, turning the space into ”a giant glass monster,” according to Lars Meldgaard.

the corner of H.C. Andersens Blvrd. and Vesterbrogade

3. Danish Industry Building – What was the architect thinking?
(Wikimedia Commons)

4. Hotel d’Angleterre

Million-Dollar Baby If you’re Bill Clinton, David Beckham, or Madonna, you have called it your home for at least one night. Hotel d’Angleterre is one of the first deluxe hotels in the world and has hosted an impressive array of celebrities. Magnus finds it the most luxurious building in Copenhagen because it is often decorated for different occasions (check it out around Christmas!) and is situated next to the beautiful King’s Square (Kongens Nytorv). It is also newly restored, and holds 30 rooms and 60 suites. If you’re on your way to Nyhavn, remember to check out the glamorous Hotel d’Angleterre along the way.

Kongens Nytorv 34, 1050 Copenhagen K

4. Hotel d Angleterre – Million-dollar baby
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by Hans Jørn Storgaard Andersen)

5. Nykredit Headquarters (Krystallen)

Bring It Down! Although Lars finds this building high-tech and impressive, most other students were far less impressed. Magnus says ”it is a giant glass cube, just a waste of space,” and the second year students agree that the space could have been used more purposefully. Nonetheless, it is considered environmentally friendly, and won a LEAF (Leading European Architects Forum) award in 2011.

Kalvebod Brygge 1-3, 1780 Copenhagen V

5. Nykredit Headquarters (Krystallen) – Bring It Down!
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by cjreddaway)

6. 8 House (8 Tallet)

Mr. Brainiac Also known as the BIG House, every architecture student has something good to say about the multi-functional creation by the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Magnus points out the concept of bringing different types of spaces, such as apartments, townhomesm and office spaces, into one building. Marie was very straight-forward calling it cool, whereas Lars thinks it attracts a lots of tourists who are interested in architecture. In case you were wondering – yes, it is actually shaped like a figure eight.

Richard Mortensens Vej, 2770 Copenhagen S

6. 8 House (8 Tallet) – Mr. Brainiac
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by News Øresund – Jenny Andersson)

7. Parken Stadium

Oh, Yawn! While hosting many exciting events inside its walls, the exterior of this building falls flat in comparison. Architecture students Marie, Mathilde, and Rie unanimously agree that, from the outside, it is extremely disappointing. It is mostly used for football games, but has also gathered thousands of people for concerts like The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, and U2. So, put on your favourite jersey, grab a couple of friends, and go see what the inside of the stadium has to offer – just don’t pay too much attention to the building itself!

Per Henrik Lings Allé 2, 2100 Copenhagen Ø

7. Parken Stadium – Oh, Yawn!
(Wikimedia Commons)

8. VM Mountain, or Mountain Dwellings

I Would Marry This Building If I Could This is another win for Bjarke Ingles and BIG. VM Mountain is a residential building, situated in the Ørestad district, and is a neighbour of VM Houses – two residential blocks labelled V and M. It has won several awards in architecture, all of them very much deserved. VM Mountain combines 80 residential apartments with a multi-storey car park that can hold up to 480 cars. The students think that this design is a new way of thinking and living, that still remains fairly close to the city, and Lars definitely recommends taking a look at it if you appreciate good architecture.

Ørestads Blvrd. 55, 2300 Copenhagen S

8. VM Mountain, or Mountain Dwellings – I Would Marry This Building If I Could
(Wikimedia Commons – licensed under creative commons by News Øresund – Jenny Andersson)

9. The Organic Inspiration House (Det Økologiske Inspirationshus)

Green Living The Ecological Inspiration House was built in 2000 to demonstrate that it is possible to create housing that doesn’t harm the environment. It uses a recycling water system and has composting toilets, natural ventilation, solar panels, among other features, and attempts to inspire ecological housing and environmentally-friendly living. You are welcome to go and take a tour of this ecologically friendly home for only DKK 20.

Allégade 7-9, 2000 Frederiksberg

9. The Organic Inspiration House
(Det Økologiske Inspirationshus) – Green Living (

10. Amalienborg Slotsplads

Tourist Much? If you’re a tourist in Copenhagen, you are most likely to stumble on the winter home of the Danish royal family. Amalienborg is located in the heart of Copenhagen city and is a complex of four buildings (Christian VII’s Palace, Christian VIII’s Palace, Frederick VIII’s Palace and Christian IX’s Palace) and the Marble Church nearby. Magnus appreciates it for its history and its beautiful surroundings, while others mentioned its surrounding neighbourhood as equally beautiful for tourists. Amalienborg has been harbouring Danish pride since 1760, and if you would like to know more, you can visit the Amalienborg Museum, which is open Tuesday-Sunday.

Amalienborg Slotsplads, 1257, Copenhagen K

10. Amalienborg Slotsplads – Touristy enough?
(Wikimedia Commons – Rob Deutscher, licensed under creative commons)

So that was their selection! Any more tips or suggestions on worthwhile Copenhagen architecture? Write in the comment field below!

Like us on Facebook for features, guides and tips on upcoming events. Follow us on Twitter for links to other Copenhagen academia news stories. Sign up for the University Post weekly newsletter here.