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Urban life, architecture, sustainability

About BLOX

With its bridges and squares on the harbour front in Copenhagen, BLOX enhances the city space with another chapter in the evolution of the Port of Copenhagen from an industrial dockland to a harbour for people. A harbour at which locals and visitors can meet and enjoy life by the water. BLOX has transformed a previously deserted part of Copenhagen into a lively urban space and meeting point for everyone. The new Lille Langebro establishes good connections for cyclists and pedestrians. BLOX makes space for urban life.

BLOX is a national and international gathering place that engages people in architecture, design and sustainable urban development. We nurture this engagement through exhibitions, events, business development and new partnerships. The doors are open for everyone who wants to experience, sense and understand life in cities, and for everyone who wants to take part in professional networks and deep specialist environments to develop the sustainable cities of the future.

BLOX is financed by the philanthropic association Realdania, and it was designed by the internationally recognised Dutch architects: OMA. Massive blocks, hence the name BLOX, have been stacked and staggered to create a building that stimulates all the senses. It is an iconic, transparent and inspirational house with prospects everywhere, up towards the oldest parts of the city, down towards the water and out towards the harbour entrance.

A city in constant development

The Bryghus site

The story of the Bryghus site, on which BLOX is built, is the story of a city in constant development, not least the busy industrial harbour.

The Bryghus site is located on the Frederiksholm islet, a central part of Copenhagen that is separated from the Slotsholmen islet by Frederiksholms Kanal. Frederiksholm did not exist prior to the 1660s and was created gradually through reclamation in the harbour.

The original building on the site from 1772 was the royal brewhouse, Kongens Bryghus, which lends its name to the nearby street Bryghusgade and the Bryghusbroen bridge. By the 1870s, rapid industrial development had turned Bryghuset into an actual industrial facility.

Under King Christian IV, many embankments and fortifications were built around central Copenhagen, including the western embankment Vestvolden, which was levelled in 1873, turning Vester Voldgade into one of Copenhagen’s most important arteries. Some years later, in 1906, the Royal Library was built. By now, the brewhouse was rather run down, and production here was discontinued in 1923.

In 1941 the first architectural competition for the Bryghus site was held. Among the programme requirements, the new structure had to ‘be worthy of the site’ and – as today – should preferably contain functions that were in the city’s general interest and benefited large segments of the population. The competition failed to yield a winning project, however, as none of the proposals were found suitable by the panel of judges.

In October 1960 the remaining buildings on the Bryghus site burned down. For the following 50 years, the site served as a temporary playground and car park.

In 1994 the Ørestad Development Corporation took over the site, and in 2005 Realdania’s subsidiary Realdania By & Byg bought the plot with the intention of creating a new building and a city square of high architectural quality in order to improve the area and help tie the city and the harbour together.

In 2006 the overall vision for the project was articulated. The architect was selected in an international interview competition based on prior invitation. Five offices were invited to an interview, and among them the Dutch firm OMA was selected. The groundbreaking took place in May 2013.


The full story

The Book about BLOX

This is the story of BLOX. Of the history, the vision, the process and about how BLOX rounds off the development of Copenhagen’s Inner Harbour – from former industrial port to a port for people. A story told by stakeholders who, each in their way, have helped make BLOX possible.