The Danish invasion: How Danish architecture is taking over the world

April 3rd, 2014

The Danes are taking the world by storm with their unique take on modern architecture. We are constantly impressed with their ability to blend principles of modern design with a strong focus on sustainability. Here are three architects in particular whose work we admire.

Jørn Utzon

7044953567_c93f3740db_b Most outstanding project: Sydney Opera House

It’s ironic that the most famous Danish building in the world isn’t even in Denmark! The Sydney Opera House was designed in 1955 by the then unknown Danish architect Jørn Utzon who beat out architects from 32 countries around the world who competed for the opportunity to design the building. Construction began in 1959 and seven years later after a long dispute with the New South Wales Government, Utzon resigned from the project. The show went on and the building was eventually completed in 1973 at a cost of 102 million dollars.

Other notable projects: Utzon went on to design other iconic buildings including the Bagsværd church in Denmark and the Kuwait National Assembly which are both considered masterpieces.

Bjarke Ingels

The 8 House (8-tallet) Building, Southern Orestad Copenhagen, Denmark

Bjarke Ingels founder of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is doing it big (pun intended) in the world of architecture. With a string of several high profile projects under his belt, this young architect’s star is constantly on the rise. He is known for his innovative projects, many of which defy traditional architectural conventions.

Most outstanding project: 8 House


This project really put him on the map. It’s a mixed-use development which is built in the shape of a figure 8 in the suburb of Ørestad in Copenhagen, Denmark. The building consists of 61,000 square metres of three different types of residential housing and 10,000 square metres of retail premises and offices. It is the largest private development ever undertaken in Denmark. Hands down one of the most impressive things about this building is that residents who live in the 10th level penthouses can ride their bikes all the way down to the street!

Other notable projects: Here in Canada Bjarke Ingels designed Vancouver House, a twisting 52-storey residential tower that will be the world’s first LEED Platinum high rise project.


He is also working on a power plant in Copenhagen that doubles as a downhill ski resort!

Henning Larsen Architects

Founded by Henning Larsen in 1959, Henning Larsen Architects is definitely one of our favourite Danish architecture firms because of its Department of Research and Sustainability. The department takes part in climate and sustainability discussions and develops design tools to make help make their buildings as sustainable as possible.

Most outstanding project: The wave


This building is inspired by the fjord, the bridge, the town and the hills in the area. During the day the white waves are reflected in the sea and at night the characteristic profile will look like illuminated multi-coloured mountains.

Other notable projects:


Internationally, Henning Larsen and his company are known for their work on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Riyadh which won the Aga Khan Award for architecture in 1989. The firm also designed the Copenhagen Opera House which at a cost of over 500 million dollars, is one of the most expensive opera houses ever built.

We’ll continue to keep our eye on this country and all the talent they keep producing. Can’t wait to see what the next outstanding project to come out of this country will be.