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The Blue Planet ©Nils Bergendal, Shapes
Design thinking

A search for the right material

A shimmering metallic building in the shape of a giant whirlpool stands beside the sea, giving visitors a taste of what awaits them inside. This is Denmark's new national aquarium, the Blue Planet, inspired by the shape of water in endless motion.

Visitors can stroll through 53 separate aquariums and get a breathtaking, up-close look at some 450 species of fish and other aquatic creatures. 

This building is a habitat for fish. The architects came up with the whirlpool after experimenting with many different versions of the form. The challenge was to find a material flexible enough for the shape and at the right price. 

The building comprises a series of curved wings, designed to imitate the shapes generated by swirling water. The main entrance, reached by following the longest arm of the whirlpool, leads into a circular foyer at the heart of the building. There, visitors can look up through a glass ceiling into a pool directly overhead, in order to shorten the lines of visitors for the most popular aquariums.

Many parts of the complex construction feature aluminium. The outside is covered with thousands of diamond-shaped aluminium plates, known as shingles. The design and the pattern of the façade had to be simplified time and again to stay within the budget. The Architects, 3XN, tested many different materials including glazed tiles, fiber concrete and fiberglass. The façade consists of shingles in aluminium, which reflects the sun and the sky in a fantastic way. In the winter, the aluminium takes on a new look when ice forms intriguing patterns on the shingles. In addition, aluminium is used for the large panoramic windows in the restaurant overlooking the sea. 

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