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20 Jan 2023
Esbjerg’s landmark maritime center, designed by WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta, opens to the public
By Tom Walker
Esbjerg’s landmark maritime center, designed by WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta, opens to the public
WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta were chosen for the project following a design competition in 2019
Photo: WERK/Snøhetta
A new landmark maritime centre has opened to the public in Esbjerg, Denmark.

Created by WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta, the centre has been designed as a shared space for watersport clubs and visitors along the port, providing the town with a social maritime hub and architectural landmark.

Dubbed "The Lantern", WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta were chosen for the project following a design competition in 2019.

Designed as a "community first" building, the centre houses multiple watersport clubs, boat storage, training facilities, a large workshop space and areas for social functions.

Its circular, open design invites visitors in from every angle, creating an accessible and inclusive building. ​

Thomas Kock, Creative Director at WERK Arkitekter said: “The goal was to create a unique destination that lights up the Danish West Coast, so everyone can find their way to new communities at the sea."

The building design is inspired by the geometry and craftmanship of boats, paying homage to the maritime tradition and its significance in the port of Esbjerg.

Round-shaped holes between the terrace and the boat storage and preparation area bring daylight down to the ground floor's core and create a visual and social vertical link.

The façade has a rhythm and repetition inspired by wooden boat construction, both outside and inside. It also reflects the water's energy with the pace and horizontal rippling effect experienced when throwing a stone in the water.

The changes in the angle of the panels give varying shadows, inspired by the shapes of kayaks. The wooden rhythm continues on the roof, where solar panels are integrated in a belt around the top edge.

The upper level of the building houses various clubs, such as for rowing, kayaking, sailing, diving and triathlon, as well as common areas, an educational centre and training facilities.

The lower level is directly connected to the sea by a bridge and houses a boat storage and workshop space.

Large windows throughout the building’s façade give plenty of daylight and visibility inwards, while also connecting the center to its surroundings.

Thanks to the design, a warm glow shines through the windows at night, lighting the center up like a lantern.

Frank D. Foray, senior architect and project manager at Snøhetta, said: “The maritime center has room for everyone; from the experienced diver or professional kayaker to a crab-fishing school class or a random passer-by.

"The Lantern invites everyone to a peek inside the maritime life and outwards to the sea with its endless horizon."

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