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Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Blue Planet

The Blue Planet is northern Europe’s largest and most modern aquarium, with a spiral design which is unique in the world. The Blue Planet is home to 450 different species and 20,000 fish and other aquatic animals, which include sharks, sea lions, dwarf crocodiles, moray eels and barracudas.

The facade is covered with small diamond-shaped aluminium plates, known as shingles, which adapt to the building’s organic form. The Blue Planet is the latest version of Denmark’s National Aquarium in Copenhagen, which dates back to 1939.

As the largest aquarium in northern Europe, it is expected to attract 700,000 visitors a year, which will make it one of Denmark’s five most popular attractions. The Blue Planet celebrates the Earth’s aquatic biodiversity and is home to 20,000 fish and aquatic animals representing 450 different species –150 more than in the old aquarium.

The Blue Planet is situated on the island of Amager, close to Copenhagen Airport. When viewed from a plane the whirlpool shape is clearly seen. Viewed from ground level, the building appears to float in a circular reflection pool.  A walk through its interior is a journey through several organic worlds.

In designing The Blue Planet, the architect team was indeed inspired by nature, says principal of 3XN, Kim Herforth Nielsen. “We wanted to stage a totality of the experience one has visiting an aquarium. The starting point was this magnificent experience of fish in their natural element. We wanted to create that adventurous feeling, and we took inspiration from the natural phenomenon of the whirlpool drawing you into the deep. A sculpture on the coast, it unites the natural elements of water, air and earth.”

With a floor space of 9,000 square metres and technical systems running round the clock, the Blue Planet will not be a beacon of sustainability. Nevertheless the engineers have devised solutions to substantially cut energy consumption, for instance by using seawater in the cooling process, which is estimated to reduce energy consumption for cooling by 80%. The saltwater tanks also get their water from the sea while the freshwater tanks are supplemented by rainwater capture. In addition, the building is insulated to a high international standard and fitted with low-energy glazing.

The Blue Planet is devoted to nature conservation as well as raising awareness on water issues. The aquarium partners with researchers for scientific collaboration and work to reduce over-fishing and pollution, and to preserve endangered species.

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