The UN City

The UN City at dawn
The UN City at dawn

Aluminium as part of huge building project

Copenhagen is being plentiful in an attraction of a new office domicile for seven different UN organizations, which erects at the waterfront of the capital. 1.200 employees are going to work in the building, which makes it the sixth biggest UN office in the world – only beaten by cities as New York, Geneva, Rome, Vienna and Paris.

A big white star... this is the form that the award-winning architects from 3XN have given the new UN City in Copenhagen. They have thought atypically in connection with the construction of the new UN headquarter on the Marmormolen, where they in the star-shaped design have wished to erect a building that clearly and iconic marks the values and authority of UN.

Among other things, this is achieved through an unifying center of the house, where all common functions are organized. Openness on all levels. A shape that forms an organization, where efficiency and professionalism in each area is consolidated under a united set of values”Delivering as one”.

General contract in two

It was E. Pihl & Son, who in 2010 won the bidding round of phase 1 as turnkey contractor and with this elected to convert 3XN’s ideas and architecture into practice – and in an unusual construction.

Since, E. Pihl & son has been working on phase 1 and afterwards won phase 2 and yielded a very grand result.

Aluminium on the facade

Today aluminium is a natural component of building facades and with the UN City as the ultimate example: The whole facade is almost covered by aluminium. A central element of the expression has been a fundamental thought with 3XN all from the idea phase. The idea was to make the solar screening on the facade as its trademark.

”High demands of i.e. longevity, weight and freedom of formable processing made aluminium to an evident choice of material for the office facades and the solar screening for the UN City. The final design of the shutters and mountings is a result of an intensive co-operation with Viking Markise (sunblind)  and Pihl & Son and illustrates both the strength in the bend geometry and at the same time the façade is given depth and variation.

The view from the inside and outside plus the central role in relative to the low energy consumption of the building was among the parameters of the setting of the shutters perforation degree and – pattern. 1:1 –samples mounted on the facade mock up of the construction site were an important tool in this process and ensured that the solar screening lives up to both the functional and aesthetic demands, which were put to the UN City in advance.” Søren Nersting, Architect at 3XN.

Extremely energy-friendly

It is expected that the UN City will be one of the most energy-friendly buildings in Denmark, as it is built according to energy class 1-house. Classified as climate friendly building that uses less than 50 kWh per m2.

Already award winner

The building was already given the prestigious EU award”Green Building Award for New Buildings” in 2012. At the same time, it is registered for receiving the international sustainability certification, LEED’s gold-status for its work with water consumption, climate and energy. In this way, a number of actions were taken to reduce the consumption. Among other things, solar cells cover great parts of the roof for covering the consumption of electricity of the building. They cool the building with help from the solar screening and seawater. Moreover, they collect rainwater that is used in the toilets.

Facts - delivered as follows:
  • 9,200 pcs shutters
  • 2,080 pcs special shutters and skirts
  • 28,750 pcs extruded and worked fittings
  • 8,220 m extruded profiles for guide rail/suspension system
  • 671 extruded profiles for guide rail/suspension system as special parts

From idea to wind tunnel and a ready concept

Alumeco´s customer Viking Markiser won the contract on the sunblind of the building and immediately started working developing different possibilities that lived up to the architects´ wishes and the contractors demands. First, a frame construction with perforated plate intended for the shutters. After several tests, the choice fell on a very complicated plate bending solution with fully 14 bends in each shutter and a careful chosen alloying and state. This solution plaid a part in the required strength, so that they could pass a successful test in the Velux Wind tunnel in Jutland.

”An assignment about developing a new constructed and unproven shutter system of this size and with this complexity puts high demands for all the participants. Demands that are not typical within the normal settings for buildings/development including ordinary terms of sales. Merely that the development process has been on its way for more than over a year shows the complexity of the project. . 

Crucial to this is cooperation and understanding the project, the participants, the process and the end product. In this context ALUMECO appears to be highly competent, and they have been keen to find the optimal solution to meet with the constructor, turnkey contractor and so saying, us VIKING MARKISER.

Viking Markiser has appreciated the open and honest cooperation, where especially possibilities and limits were handed very professionally. The bumps on the way were solved in joint effort and with the purpose of delivering a complete system with gratification to the contractor and even on time. ” Frank Prinds, project manager with Viking Markiser A/S.

Seven subsuppliers – gathered by Alumeco

Viking Markiser emphasized the importance that one supplier should handle all processes. The goal was to avoid dispute and disagreements between different parties. Alumeco has great experience in having the role as unifying supplier for the whole demanding value chain. This meant that Alumeco made arrangements with Italian and Finish suppliers about machining and extruded profiles, and also a Belgian mill that rolled coils, which afterwards were machined in Germany and Sweden before the final surface treatment was done in Denmark.

”The project gives us the possibility to show that with our advising about profile extrusion, rolled products, machining and surface treatment are far more than just an aluminium supplier. We are attentive at all steps – from the production of materials in Belgium, Italy, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, to the finished product in a bigger logistics setup. And further more we are glad to be a part of an international building project that permanently forms the face of Copenhagen many years ahead”  says Christian Pilgaard, project responsible at Alumeco A/S.

Attractive but challenging location

One of the biggest challenges was to find the appropriate surface treatment that suits the chosen location directly to Copenhagen harbor and the influence that would mean for the material with perforated surface.

They tested different mechanical solutions and paint types, and after a thousand test hours done by the FEM Institute in Germany, they chose a solution, according to the GSB regulations, anodized the items as pre-treatment and afterwards painted these with top lacquer. This set up gave an extra logistics challenge, as the items had to be finish-machined not later than 48 hours after finished anodising, as the finish painting first closed the surface of the aluminium.

Cross functional cooperation

The cooperation between the constructor, 3XN, E Pihl and Son and Viking Markiser has been decisive for the end result. Frequent controls of the processes and conducted audits in both Denmark and Germany caused a good production process.

  • The UN City
  • The UN City
  • The UN City
  • The UN City