The renovation of the Danmarks Nationalbank building is undertaken to future-proof and maintain the building to ensure it will remain part of Danish cultural heritage for many years to come. At the same time, the interiors must be updated to meet the requirements of a modern and flexible workplace.
The Danmarks Nationalbank building was designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen and constructed between 1965 and 1978. In 2009, the building was listed by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces for its architectural and cultural heritage values. The listing extends to the entire building, exterior and interior, as well as its gardens and courtyards. The building is part of Danish cultural heritage, and as the owner of the building, Danmarks Nationalbank must protect the architecture and preserve the cultural heritage for posterity. The project is carried out with respect for the building’s architecture and in close dialogue with the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces.
The project is expected to take several years, and Danmarks Nationalbank’s employees will therefore be relocated during the renovation period. Most employees have been relocated to an office building at Langelinie Allé 47, 2100 Copenhagen Ø, which has been rented by Danmarks Nationalbank during the renovation.
There will be no public access to the Danmarks Nationalbank building during the renovation period.
Why does the building need renovating?
The building needs renovating to be preserved as part of Danish cultural heritage. A building in use is easier to preserve and maintain. Therefore, part of the task is to secure the building for future use.
The building is one of Arne Jacobsen’s principal works, characterised by high-quality materials and craftsmanship. Also, the building was constructed during a period of rapid technological advances. Built on a foundation of high quality and technological curiosity, the building was ahead of its time in many ways. Some solutions have stood the test of time, others need replacing. The same is true of the materials used in the building such as asbestos and PCB.
This is the most comprehensive renovation of the building since its construction. As part of the renovation, its facades will be replaced, and its fire safety, layout and indoor climate will be improved. Due to its proximity to the Copenhagen waterfront, the building must be protected against rising sea levels and cloudbursts.
Specifics on what will be renovated
The exterior facades of the Danmarks Nationalbank building are clad in Porsgrunn marble. The marble slabs have been damaged by wind and weather and need replacing.
Glass structures are also used for the building’s exterior facades, the so-called curtain walls. The glass structures consist of double glazing with gaskets and profiles that will be replaced to future-proof the facade.
The roofing of the low section of the building will be renovated along with the roof of the southern courtyard. The gardens and courtyards will be preserved and restored to their original design. The plants will be placed in storage to prevent them from being damaged during the renovation work.
The building at Havnegade 5 was constructed during the period 1965-78 when PCB and asbestos were widely used. So, extensive environmental remediation is needed.
In recent years, Danmarks Nationalbank’s production of banknotes and coins has been phased out. As a result, parts of Danmarks Nationalbank’s space is left unused. The restoration and renovation project is to ensure optimum utilisation of this space to support Danmarks Nationalbank’s future needs and activities as best as possible. For instance, the former printing press remises will be used as a venue for meetings and gatherings.
The building’s indoor climate design has been maintained and improved over the years, but now major replacement of the technical installations is needed to ensure a healthy indoor climate with the lowest possible energy consumption.
The building’s fire safety will be upgraded, including up-to-date escape routes, sprinkler systems and smoke vents.
A new IT solution for cabling and equipment in connection with office facilities will be established.
A series of major and minor energy-optimisation projects will be carried out. As a result, no major maintenance work is expected to be needed of the Danmarks Nationalbank building in the years after the restoration and renovation.
The building will be climate-proofed, meaning that it must be protected from rising sea levels and cloudbursts.
As part of the climate-proofing, 170 ground anchors will be installed across the plot, exterior basement walls will be reinforced and protection from rising sea levels and cloudbursts will be installed.
Cost estimate and process
The restoration of Danmarks Nationalbank’s listed building at Havnegade 5 will be more expensive and take longer than previously assessed.
The estimated price is now almost kr. 2.8 billion for renovation and restoration of the building. However, no construction contracts have yet been signed, and the final construction budget for the renovation of architect Arne Jacobsen’s building at Havnegade 5 may eventually exceed the current estimate.
The latest estimate from 2022 was kr. 1.9 billion.
At the same time, construction is now expected to take a year longer, prolonging Danmarks Nationalbank’s stay at its temporary headquarters at Langelinie Alle in Copenhagen into 2029.
The project has focused on recreating the unique materials and structures with which Arne Jacobsen designed the building, while also meeting the requirements for listed buildings.
Since September 2021, Totalrådgivergruppen EKJ and Rørbæk Møller Arkitekter and subconsultants have worked closely with Danmarks Nationalbank to plan and design the restoration and renovation project. Despite the special qualities of the building, the conventional process for large-scale renovation projects has been followed, and the work has generally proceeded as planned.
Havnegade 5 is a trailblazing building in terms of design and craftsmanship that was made from the very best materials at a time when technology was developing rapidly.
In several ways the building was ahead of its time, but, unfortunately, parts of its interior contain substances such as asbestos and PCBs that needs to be cleaned or replaced. There are also building parts that have withstood the test of time less well. For example, the largest single expense item will be replacing technical installations, which are worn out after nearly 50 years.
In 2009, the Danmarks Nationalbank headquarters became the youngest building in Denmark to be listed by the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces due to its status as a piece of modern Danish cultural and architectural history. This means that Havnegade 5 must be preserved for its historical and architectural value, while also being renovated to future-proof the building as a vibrant workplace in the centre of Copenhagen.
The estimate for the renovation has become gradually higher as it has been established how much work it requires to create durable solutions that are both faithful to Arne Jacobsen’s solutions from the 1960s and sustainable.
Havnegade 5 was built over a period of 13 years from 1965 to 1978 and is one of Arne Jacobsen’s major works, both as architect and designer, and an example of the modernist style that made Danish architecture famous throughout the world after the Second World War.
The listing comprises the entire building, both exterior and interior, as well as the gardens, which places some very special demands on the restoration that Danmarks Nationalbank has undertaken as owner of the building.
The construction work will therefore be performed with due respect for the architecture of the building and in a close dialogue with the Danish Agency for Culture and Palaces, while Danmarks Nationalbank is the developer of the restoration and finances the project and the construction work.
The renovation includes climate-proofing, replacement of marble and windows, environmental remediation and new technical installations, and as the scope and performance of the renovation work at Havnegade 5 have become clear, the project has become more extensive, the construction estimate higher and the building period longer.
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