The Blue Planet is Northern Europe’s largest aquarium with more than 20,000 animals and 220,000 gallons of water.
Copenhagen celebrated recently the opening of The Blue Planet – northern Europe’s largest aquarium and a spectacular building in the shape of a giant seashell. Designed by local architects 3xN and located in Taarnby just outside Copenhagen on the edge of the Øresund Strait, the new aquarium in Copenhagen makes for a dramatic addition to the skyline of the capital of Denmark and looks set to become one of the city’s biggest attractions. The venue’s design was inspired by the circulating currents of the whirlpool, shoals of fish and swirling starlings turning the sky black. The aquarium is packed with fish and other marine life from around the world, with hammerhead sharks, giant schools of fish, crocodiles and vibrant coral reefs among the attractions.
From the entrance, the visitor steps into the vortex of the whirlpool, the round lobby, and is drawn inside the spiral towards the 52 aquariums and installations.
The building is located directly facing Øresund and is surrounded by a circular reflection pool. The Blue Planet is thus encircled by water on all four sides.
As Northern Europe’s largest and most modern aquarium, The Blue Planet is located at a central traffic junction close to the Metro, train connections, the motorway, and Copenhagen Airport.
In other words, it is difficult to overlook The Blue Planet whether you are arriving by land, water or by air. The entire floor space is approximately 2.5 acres (10.000 square meters).
The outdoor area covers 0.5 acre (2.000 square meters) in addition to parking facilities.
The story of Denmark’s Aquarium
Engineer Knud Højgaard and his soon, zoologist Mogens Højgaard took their annual walk through the forest on Christmas Eve 1934. Mogens described his dream of building greenhouses for amphibians and fish – if he owned the forest, that is.
With that the idea of Denmark’s aquarium came into being, as Knud Højgaard replied to his son: “It’s something worth talking about.”
Five years later, in 1939, Denmark’s Aquarium opened to the public.
Visitors faint in droves
The first public aquarium in Denmark, which in 1939 also was the second largest in Europe, was a huge crowd puller. In just one month nearly 77,000 people visited the new attraction.
Overcrowding inside the aquarium meant that visitors had to be allowed into the building in groups. And although the aquarium had a wide corridor with four side halls, the ventilation unfortunately was so poor that many visitors fainted.
War hits the aquarium
The second world war broke out same year as the aquarium opened. The war made it impossible for fish to be imported into the country but in spite of this, the aquarium managed to stay supplied with marine animals but the number of species on display was reduced.
During the summer of 1944, Denmark was affected by a general strike which was catastrophic for the aquarium as it meant no electricity for the fish tanks. With director Mogens Højgaard leading the way, the staff used pedal power to keep the tanks supplied with sufficient oxygen.
The Aquarium expands
By 1974 the aquarium was in need of refurbishment, and two new sections were opened. Visitors now had access to five new impressive landscape aquariums and a biological museum. More than a decade later, in 1989, Denmark’s Aquarium celebrated its 50th anniversary. To commemorate the event, Knud Højgaard’s Foundation donated an annex to the aquarium for use as a café, which was ready to welcome visitors a year later.
Charlottenlund becomes too small
More annexes were added as the year passed and the aquarium outgrew its buildings in Charlottenlund. More apace and modern facilities became a necessity in the mid-1990s. But the grounds of the buildings were protected, and this made it impossible to remain in Charlottenlund.
The Blue Planet comes into being
After a number of years spent raising funds through foundations and other means, an architecture competition was launched in 2007. A new aquarium was to be built, and Tårnby Municipality on Amager made a waterfront location available for the project. The Danish architect studio 3XN won the international architecture competition, and The Blue Planet is now a reality. In March this year 3,000 marine animals were moved from the old building to Amager, where they joined 17,000 new marine animals.
The Blue Planet now has 20,000 fish and marine animals in 53 tanks with a total of 220,000 gallons (seven million liters) of water.
The building’s architecture is inspired by the shape of a whirlpool, and even before The Blue Planet opened its doors, the building was heralded as “Denmark’s best flagship project” within the tourism and experience economy.
Source: The Blue Planet, Copenhagen