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Kalvebod Waves

Kalvebod Waves, a harbor front project in Copenhagen, was officially opened for public. The project is collectively designed by Urban Agency (formerly KLAR) and JDS Architects /Julien De Smedt with the support of Sloth Møller and Niras Engineers. Stretching along the waterfront between Langebro bridge and Bernstorffsgade, Kalvebod Bølge (Kalvebod Waves) provides a venue for water sports as well as relaxing sunbathing.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-08-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-759x474 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

Historically the city side of the harbor and the Kalvebod Pier were devoted to industrial activities. Then in the 1980s and 1990s, the city developed the area into an architecturally austere mono-programed harbor front, leaving its quay barren and open to strong winds and deserted by citizens. When addressing this infamously gloomy and desolated side of the harbor, the designers put focus on two major design aspects: to create urban continuity and to locate ourselves on the sunny spots of the water.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-10-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-759x474 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

Kalvebod Wave is located just across from the popular Islands Brygge neighbourhood, and is a wave-shaped pier. Here, kayak-loving Copenhageners and visitors can rent kayaks to tour the canals of Copenhagen, or enjoy cultural activities at the new theatre scene established adjacent to the wave.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-17-759x506 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

“The creative development of a new embankment and hiking landscape as an architecturally skilfully designed leisure and sports world is absolutely convincing. The relaxed layout of the curved, partly wood-clad recreational terrace decks create a unique world of experience above the water. They impressively turn the pedestrian area at the water in front of the adjoining buildings into a vital, delicately shaped and highly detailed landscape.” – Jury comment/AIT award

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-24-Henning-Stuben-759x427 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Henning Stuben

For an urban recreational zone at Kalvebod Brygge in Copenhagen. Today, the area is characterised by large office buildings and workplaces, rendering the area empty and lifeless in the evening and over the weekend. Whereas Islands Brygge on the other side of the channel is a housing area with a wellestablished green and blue public space for use by the entire city during the summer months, Kalvebod Brygge can become a recreational space characterised by movement and metropolis.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-27-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-667x1000 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

Functions placed here can be more closely related to and are in need of the good traffic connections offered by this quay. In addition, the design language at work here corresponds to the large traffic plans and solitary buildings in the area. The project is designed in accordance with the sun and the wind and the desire to create new connections through the area in conjunction with various water activities. Kalvebod Wave is a modern interpretation of the quay, an urban and aesthetic recreational zone realised in a dynamic new promenade that encompasses experiences in and on the water. Kalvebod Wave moves out into the harbour and down to the water surface while simultaneously creating a series of varied urban spaces for recreation and movement.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-29-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-759x474 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

  • Diversity is the primary theme of the project’s program and people have openly embraced this fact. The project consists of two plazas connected by a variable-height boardwalk. There are ample places for sitting and the open plazas can be used for many types of organized events. Spontaneity is common here and the project is already evolving to fit the needs of use and safety. Simple but high quality concrete, wood, and steel construction enhance the experience but shift the focus to the elegant form and everchanging viewscape.
  • The bold, unique design of this boardwalk extension was conceived and built with the express intent of reclaiming access to the harbour and connecting the overall urban fabric with the waterfront. The existing buildings along the Kalvebod Brygge dominate the edge and create large, uninviting shadows. The double-wave form of the Kavelbod Bølge reaches beyond these shadows and invites visitors and residents to relax, play, and stay.
  • Kalvebod Waves brings a myriad of activities from organized to spontaneous: there’s a kayak and canoe club inserted in the project, a docking island peacefully floating in a basin, a series of benches and long resting areas to enjoy the sun.
Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-31-George-Messaritakis-759x380 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© George Messaritakis

JDS Architects:

Kalvebod Brygge is situated opposite the popular Copenhagen summer hang out, Islands Brygge. Kalvebod Brygge has the potential to be Islands Brygge’s more urban counterpart but has, until now, been synonymous with a desolated office address devoid of life and public activities.

This new waterfront will be a place for a larger spectrum of public activities. With a close connection to the central train station and Tivoli, Copenhagen’s famous city amusement park, ‘Kalvebod Bølge’, the ‘Kalvebod Waves’ will become a hub, buzzing with activity and providing a chance for the inner city to regain its connection to the harbour. Constituted more by its functionality than its tradition, this inner city site is less fragile than others and manifests Copenhagen’s contemporary urban waterfront with neighbouring entities such as the Black Diamond Library and the Nykredit building. According to the schedule the complex should be finished mid 2010. The project consists of two main plazas, which extend across the water and are positioned with regards to sunlight and wind conditions. To the south, the pier allows for a flexible public space on the water with facilities to host events related to the creative industry. During the last 10 years Copenhagen has developed into a stronghold for the creative class, therefore Kalvebod Brygge proposes an urban showcase that gives organizations, companies, festivals and fairs a location along the waterfront.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-64-Julien-Lanoo-759x507 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Julien Lanoo

In connection with this space, an active water enclave is created, for various water related activities. The plaza and surrounding pontoons provide the necessary facilities for these activities to function. The flow of boats that commute to and from the water hub also creates an active maritime background and secures the connectivity of the plaza to the rest of the city.

The second square acts as an oasis on the water, providing both proximity and access. This recreational space, with a beach, allows for a break from the hectic pace of urban life, where a floating garden is proposed. A maritime park where urban and maritime life meet.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-66-Julien-Lanoo-759x507 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Julien Lanoo

Urban Agency (formerly KLAR):

With the opening of the Kalvebod Waves at Copenhagen’s harbourfront, a central part of the inner harbour has finally become both accessible and attractive to the public. The new public space on the water gives the harbour a new dimension as a recreational space in the centre of the city.

Historically this part of the harbor was devoted to industrial activities. In the 1980s and 90s, the city sold the land, and the area was developed into an urbanistically and architecturally harsh and monoprogrammed harbor front, leaving its quay barren and open to strong winds, devoid of any public life.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-74-Julien-Lanoo-759x507 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Julien Lanoo

When addressing this infamously gloomy and desolated side of the harbor, the architects focused on two major design aspects: urban continuity and locating the new structure on the sunnier locations on the site. The quay now has fantastic sun conditions until the early afternoon, but to attract the public after working hours the architects also needed to study the shadows casted by the huge buildings along the promenade. The two new main piers are located in the shadow-free zones and programmed as active ‘islands’ on the water. The project then reconnects these islands to the urban network and blends them naturally into the city’s infrastructure. Two bridges link the tip of the main piers back to the old quay, creating two inner water-basins for watersports.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-76-Julien-Lanoo-759x507 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Julien Lanoo

On the waving pier, citizens and visitors alike can explore the waterfront from different levels and enjoy the amazing views. The new development invites visitors to take a walk or boat-tour, rent a kayak in the kayak-hotel, enjoy a coffee in the container shops, or simply sit and enjoy an exciting and active public space.

Kalvebod-Waves-By-JDS-Architects-Urban-Agency-formerly-KLAR-84-Julien-Lanoo-759x507 Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)

© Julien Lanoo

Project Data:

Project name: Kalvebod Waves
Location: Kalvebod Brygge, Copenhagen, Denmark
Coordinates: 55.669138, 12.575831
Type: Riverside
Project Area: 4,200 sqm
Status: Completed
Budget: 7,000,000 EUR
Completion Year: August 2013


  • 2014 – WAN Awards – Category: Urban Design – Winner
  • 2014 – AIT award – Category: Sports / Leisure – 1st prize

The people:

Client / Owner / Developer: Copenhagen Municipality

Creative Authorship: Julien De Smedt

Project Team:

  • KLAR, Future Experience, U-Turn, White Water Adventure Park

Project Leader:

  • Francisco Villeda, Henning Stüben, Jeppe Ecklon, Sandra Fleischmann

Text Description: © Courtesy of JDS Architects, Urban Agency (formerly KLAR), AIT award
Images: © JDS Architects, Urban Agency (formerly KLAR), flickr-JACOB BRO, George MessaritakisJulien Lanoo, Henning Stuben

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Kalvebod Waves / JDS Architects + Urban Agency (formerly KLAR)
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