Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects: The Crystal in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, Denmark,

Landscape, Offices, Sport & Wellness,




Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s The Crystal is one of many contemporary constructions in the city of Copenhagen. With its geometric shape developed on the basis of the shape of the corner lot, the new Nykredit building uses materials such as glass and steel to improve its sustainability.

Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects: The Crystal in Copenhagen

The new headquarters of the Nykredit bank is a symbolic building in which materials - glass façades supported by a steel skeleton – are used to express the group’s ethics. Transparency is the key to Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects’ relationship with the city of Copenhagen, where the new construction stands, near the harbour and Kalvebod Brygge, recently renewed by JDS (Julien De Smedt).

The Crystal stands on a corner lot outlined by Puggardsgade and Hambrosgade streets which determines the shape of its floor plan. The client wanted the building to be a prestigious place and a landmark in the city, which led to refinement of its three-dimensional geometry to lighten its impact on its surroundings. The double skin of glass makes the rhomboid metal structure and all the activities that take place inside it visible, conveying a bold image of dynamism and productivity.

The volume rests on a large empty paved area, so that it can be viewed from many different angles. The presence of a body of water in the centre of the “plaza” in front of it is a reference to nearby Kalvebod harbour, reached facing “The Cube”, Nykredit’s previous office building, to which The Crystal is related through its geometry and use of materials. This visual dialogue is most intense in the landscape below The Crystal, where its structure is raised. A single point of contact with the ground, extending upwards, contributes lightness to a construction built on a surface measuring almost 7000 square metres.

The compactness of the vertical glass surfaces is reduced by the presence of etchings, attenuating the impact of sunlight while attracting the attention of passers-by with a decorative effect imitating changes in the sky.

The diagonal orientation of the façades is reflected in a Z-shaped floor plane organised around two triangular foyers which may be seen from all the floors above ground. While ample use is made of the natural light arriving from two sides, outside and inside the building, the sun’s rays are attenuated by triple glazing, reducing the building’s energy consumption to below the limits set by current legislation, 70kWh per square metre.

The Crystal is based on a new design philosophy which views public buildings in a new way, as landmarks to reach, and under which to meet and stop. The wealth of different points of view and relationships with the landscape around it which are drawn in the Crystal, releasing the space from the ground, encourage people to interpret the dialogue between architecture and urban planning, between the level of vertical reading and the horizontal level of the city.

Mara Corradi

Design: Schmidt Hammer Lassen architects
Client: Nykredit
Location: Copenhagen (Denmark)
Structural design: Grontmij I Carl Bro A/S, Buro Happold
Landscape design: SLA
Technical supervision:
Total usable surface area: 6850 m2
Project start date: 2006
Completion of work: 2010
Glass and steel structure
Etched glass façades
Photos: © Adam Mørk


2011, ArchDaily Building of the Year Award, Office Building category
2012, Arne of the Year Award, shortlisted in the Big Arne category
2011, European Steel Design Award

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