What: Transformation of the national archives. New visitor center & entrance.
Where:  Christiansborg, Copenhagen, Denmark,
When: 2024 - 
Collaborators: COBE, Drachmann Architects, Sweco engineers.
Client: BYGST, The Danish Building and Property Agency for the Danish Parliament.
With the vision of open, accessible and engaging public governance, the project expands and reorganizes the Danish Parliament entrance experience with a new visitor center, and includes the restoration and transformation of the listed historic buildings vacated by National Archive into a citizen-oriented parliamentary meeting center. The new visitor entrance is designed as a circular amphitheater and staircase and is an integral part of the urban space in the publically accessible Parliament Courtyard. This inviting meeting place features a single symbolic tree as a marker at its center. A simple and highly calibrated insertion into its historic context, the proposal introduces a contemporary architecture and up-to-date functionality with respect for the protected cultural heritage on the island that is home to the Danish Parliament called Slotsholmen.​​​​​​​
An open, accessible and engaging democracy
The Danish Parliament is something special. It is open, equal and for everyone. Still, we probably don’t think too much about it on a daily basis. Our democratically elected People’s Assembly has historic roots in the “Tingsted”- a highly defined outdoor space for local debate and governance. Scattered throughout all of Denmark, and dating back to ancient times, these places were demarcated in the landscape by stones and wood, providing a physical framework for early governance. The “Tingsted” is the functional and physical prototype for today’s houses of Parliament and for modern democracy in the Nordics.
With its inspiration from the historic democratic meeting place of the “Tingsted”, the entrance is shaped as a circular, open meeting place with amphitheater stairs for seating. At the foot of the stairs stands the “People’s Tree”- a single imposing tree that symbolizes the roots of democracy and gives the urban space a sensorial and welcoming character.
We would like to show everyone – visitors, employees and elected representatives – that the Danish people’s parliament is something special. We would like to communicate that it is open and it is for everyone – while still effective, safe and secure. We wish to show that it respects our historic and cultural heritage- that the new Parliament is the modern “Tingsted” for the whole of Denmark.
The context
Slotsholmen in Copenhagen is a place of living and dynamic cultural heritage and public governance. An island within the city and the centre of power through 1000 years of history. The project expands the Parliament’s buildings with a new visitor entrance in the courtyard “Rigsdagsgården”, new security facilities and transformation of the National Archives building into citizen-oriented and parliamentary functions.
The Parliament Courtyard
The Parliament Courtyard is an important, historic and multi-functional urban space that even today is accessible to all of us. The new visitor entrance is designed as an open, inviting meeting place and an integral part of the Courtyard. We want to preserve the existing flows of the square and its ability to host events critical to our democracy. The project amplifies the pulsating, diverse life that makes Christiansborg Palace something very special and becomes an seamless part of arrival to the Parliament.
The existing ascending main staircase to Christiansborg and the new descending visitor entrance’s amphitheater and staircase become the two main elements in the urban space. Up, down and around theses stairs flows the daily life of the square. The stairs reflect one another in their geometries, constructed of circles and ovals. Each stair is an integral part of the two axes of the Parliament Courtyard.
The former National Archive Buildings
Future capacity and flow will be improved significantly by including the buildings vacated by the National Archive to the building stock of the Parliament. A new underground extension will connect the Parliament with the former Archive Buildings and ensure a continued and a common functionality.
The former National Archive Buildings will be restored and transformed from a static mono-functional use to a living and multi-functional house. The new uses are placed so that synergies occur and the building’s existing, spatial qualities come into play. An eatery, exhibition space, committee rooms with public access and internal workplaces are among the planned functions.
The protected former National Archive Buildings have a long history of changing use and transformation. Originally built as the royal treasury, they were transformed into the Archives and will now find new use as a living house of democracy. New functions will be carefully inserted, preserving the traces of the building’s 300-year history. 
The former National Archive Buildings will accommodate new committee rooms with seats for the public and the press. The parliamentary committees are a central element in the function of the parliamentary system. It is the Parliament’s desire to make the people’s government more open, accessible and engaging by empowering visitors to get a peek into its engine room.
Responsible use of resources
Christiansborg Palace itself is built upon field stones from all Danish parishes and with building materials from the entire geographic realm of Denmark. We want to carry on this tradition and shape a resource-conscious project that uses local solutions, craft traditions and materials. At the same time the project should  support the green transition and innovation within the Danish construction industry.
1. Arches optimized with CO2 reduction of 60% 
2. Concrete is selected with a CO2 reduction of min. 15%
3. Pressure-resistant insulation is chosen with a reduction of 45% 
4. Coating is dimensioned to accommodate recycled formats 
5. Roof tiles are optimized for directing heavy loads 
6. Floors are constructed with aggregates from crushed materials
7. Internal walls are constructed with recycled block or rammed clay soil
8. Floor decks are reused as ceiling covering
9. Acoustic regulation in eelgrass or other natural textile
10. Wooden panels in recycled wood from the renovation
11. Natural ventilation in the visitor center and main staircase
Materials will be recycled on site and will add new, visible layers to the building’s history. In the former Archive Buildings the shelving will be processed, refined and reused as wall panels in the committee rooms. The floor decking will be reused as suspended acoustic ceilings. The brick interior walls will be preserved. Existing surplus bricks can be both reused as aggregates in new cast floors, or can be included in the arches supporting the square and allowing for its underground construction.
Life cycle analyses will be used throughout the project to assess the most resource-conscious choices of materials and systems. This tool allows to balance the use of new materials from regional producers with the use of existing recycled and re-purposed materials and building parts found on site. Given the cultural significance of the complex, consideration will also be given to the protected parts of the Parliament buildings.

You may also like

Back to Top