BIG envisions an entire seaport city in one building for Masterplan Esbjerg Strand

The masterplan for Esbjerg's new educational hub reveals a continuous undulating structure enabling multiple connections between architecture, landscape, and water.

by STIRworldPublished on : Aug 31, 2022

The Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), which has offices in Copenhagen, London, Barcelona, and New York, has released its vision for Masterplan Esbjerg Strand – an educational architecture scheme that aims to create "an entire city in one building". The institutional development is to sit in the seaport town of Esbjerg surrounded by water on the southwest coast of Jutland in Denmark.

Masterplan Esbjerg Strand envisioned on the Esbjerg harbour in Denmark | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
Masterplan Esbjerg Strand envisioned on the Esbjerg harbour in Denmark Image: Courtesy of BIG

Esbjerg is a city generally overlooked by visitors and is often frequented only by those who are either staying in the many Danish summer homes populating the area or those who make use of the Esbjerg Airport. Being the largest fishery harbour in all of Denmark, the city is popularly known for its overpowering smell of fish; the scale of the fishing industry there is such that locals fondly cite, "Esbjerg doesn’t smell like fish, it smells like money."

The architecture is described as ‘an entire city in one building’ | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
The architecture is described as "an entire city in one building" Image: Courtesy of BIG

As per BIG, the project boasting sustainable architecture is envisioned to form the framework for a city and campus environment that will rethink the approach to education. Part of the Esbjerg of the Future Vision 2025, which aims to transform the urbanscape, the project in line with the overarching vision seeks to make Esbjerg a promising educational destination.

  • Green terraces taking over the built form | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    Green terraces taking over the built form Image: Courtesy of BIG
  • Visualised interiors reveal a fluid vocabulary of space manifested through a warm palette of materials | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    Visualised interiors reveal a fluid vocabulary of space manifested through a warm palette of materials Image: Courtesy of BIG

BIG’s Danish architecture scheme has evolved from a former masterplan spanning a footprint of 15,500 sqm. Transitioning from a design that deviated its focus from the natural conditions of the site and the city, the new 13,700 sqm masterplan is informed by the raw environment on the harbour. "The new masterplan," states BIG, "is informed by present environmental parameters at the site: noise from the harbour, dominant westerly winds, high tides and storm surges and sunlight.” The built massing, though previously segregated into various smaller blocks where public spaces were defined as the streets between the buildings, BIG’s vision unveils one continuous perimeter building nurturing a large green space and an iconic roofscape at the heart of it. Within this development, while the central core will be green architectural oasis protected from the wind and noise, the outer shell of the built block will remain connected to the harbour.

  • Connection to the harbor are kept intact within the builtscape | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    Connection to the harbour is kept intact within the builtscape Image: Courtesy of BIG
  • The architecture features a seven metre tall perimeter block | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    The architecture features a seven metre tall perimeter block Image: Courtesy of BIG
  • Variable height of the blocks allow minimal noise from the harbor and maximum visual connections from the building | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    Variable height of the blocks allow minimal noise from the harbor and maximum visual connections from the building Image: Courtesy of BIG
  • The public roofscape is where architecture meets the landscape | BIG | Denmark | STIRworld
    The public roofscape is where architecture meets the landscape Image: Courtesy of BIG

The perimeter block will be lifted seven metres up to protect it from floods, mentions BIG. The skin of the development will feature rows of openings on its jagged white walls to grant views of the park on its interior side and of Wadden Sea on its exteriors. The built form reveals an irregular vertical density as walls fold around in unexpected ways to embrace the greens. The sweeping green roofscape with a 1000-metre long pathway reveals a key highlight of the design. Topping seven storeys, various elements are created that allow seamless connections between the landscape and the promenade, the building and the waterfront.

As per BIG, the aim of the project is to achieve 11 out of 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals which include quality education, climate action, affordable and clean renewable energy, and responsible consumption and production. "BIG’s vision for Esbjerg Strand is to create an entire city in one building. Education, development, and new communities will create the frame for a life, where the island with all its functions and possibilities works as a sustainable, human-made ecosystem in the middle of a city," concludes the firm which is led by visionary Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.

The expected completion of the project is yet to be announced.

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