City of Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark
Competition Winner
Brian Lottenburger & Anders Ojgaard


A new destination for people

Paper Island has possibly the best location in all of Copenhagen ― positioned right across the water from Nyhavn, Copenhagen’s prime pull for tourists looking for some of that car-free, picturesque, by-the-water charm you will find depicted on hundreds of fairytale post cards from the Danish capital.

A left-over from more industrial days, Paper Island was finally abandoned as a paper storage facility by the Danish press in 2012, leaving a piece of prime real estate open for development.

Temporarily housing a hands-on science museum and a number of office spaces, the City of Copenhagen in March 2015 sought a proposal for a more permanent use of just under half of the island. The other half has been set aside for commercial developments.

Bath, food and perspective

UBLA proposed that the City of Copenhagen should not develop the space to serve a single urban function but three, effecively creating a landmark destination in the heart of the city ― for Copenhageners and visitors alike.



blue square  Harbour Bath (indoor / outdoor)
green square  Mixed use (café, view point etc.)
orange square  Food stalls and food court
purple square  Art gallery

Christened Bad, Mad og Perspektiv (or Bath, Food and Perspective) the proposal combines a diverse mix of facilities appealing to all genders and ages.

At the core of the conceptual and diagrammatic proposal is the world’s first indoor harbour bath. Copenhagen already has a few floating platforms that constitute decks from where one can swim in the clean salt water that both surrounds and penetrates the city. But Denmark is a Scandinavian country. Summers are pleasant, but short. At best, these “harbour baths” can be used three months a year. In the remaining nine months, Copenhageners flock to the city’s indoor swimming pools that are often over-crowded.

UBLA’s project includes an outdoor summer bath adjacent to an enclosed, all-year bath comprising of both traditional fresh water pools and the main feature: a part of the sea water “encased” by the building and in this way effectively moved indoors where it can be heated for enjoyment year-round.



The harbour bath is extended into the water and encloses a part of it ― creating an indoor pool that is in fact filled by the same sea water as the outdoor pools just a few metres away.

The aptly named Paper Island Baths are not just an enclosure of space and water. Right next to it a ramp, designed to be both a space for transport and a rest spot, takes you up to the next level. Here you can choose to turn right to access the new art gallery building, enter the upper level of the baths or turn left and continue to climb the baths building, eventually arriving at an elevated plateau offering unobstructed views up and down the port of Copenhagen.

A café on top of the building, also accessible from the indoor level below, serves users of both the baths and the exhibition space. Continuing past it and turning right, you eventually arrive at the uppermost entrance to the art gallery building.





Art gallery and food

A new modern art gallery solely for temporary exhibitions has been on the wish list of many a Copenhagener for years. The country’s most famous gallery, Louisiana, is positioned 35 km north of the capital, by the sea in the small town of Humlebaek.

In UBLA’s project, a new, accessible gathering space for artistic life in Copenhagen is given a prominent position right in the centre of the city and is attached to the equally prominent harbour baths. In the space between the two buildings a covered pedestrian street emerges. Apart from housing ground level entrances to the gallery and baths, this space is flanked by outward facing food stalls catering to all visitors to the island.

Offering quality food is a very important part of creating a destination, and because the street is sheltered from the elements it will be able to offer food year-round. It will also not be alone in this. The whole ground floor of the art gallery is set to become an indoor food court offering quality produce and ready-to-eat meals.

Food awareness has risen dramatically in Copenhagen in recent years and the supply of quality products and produce does not yet meet this increased demand. The internationally well known restaurant Noma is placed just across the proposed bridge and will assist in forming a culinary hub in Copenhagen around Paper Island.




Directly across from the harbour baths, a new branch of The Royal Theatre was completed in 2008. The Paper Island Baths engage in a dialogue with this structure as it is roughly the same size, and facing the port consists of a ground floor, an upper floor and a “fly tower” ― just like the theatre.

Unlike the theatre building that allows public access on the ground floor alone, the Paper Island Baths invite people in on all floors as well as on to the actual building itself, offering everybody splendid harbour views and a sense of openness.

The “fly tower” in the baths building, of course, does not house machinery for operating stage sets, but is instead a public café.



The Paper Island Bath seeks to compliment the Royal Theatre across the water while offering access on many more floors.



Next to the main pool, underwater glass panels offer a view of aquatic life in the harbour, highlighting Copenhagen ― which means ‘merchant’s harbour’ ― as a city living in symbiosis with its waters. In the area below sea level you will find special bathing facilities, such as steam baths and saunas.

“Bath, food and perspective” offers locals and tourists a centrally located, full-day destination in an exciting and very varied space. It offers supply in areas where there is demand, and it provides Copenhagen with a new landmark. It also integrates all our 8 core design principles.


Copenhagen has an extensive system of district heating with underground pipes leading hot water around the city to heat buildings. After having heated radiators in apartments, offices and cosy coffee shops, the water is channelled back to heating stations to be reheated. This so-called “return water” has a temperature around 50°C and some of it runs very close to Paper Island.

Copenhagen is also experimenting with geothermic heating, pumping up very salty 73°C hot water from several kilometres down. This water is used to heat the water in the district heating circulation but similarly has a temperature of slightly above 50°C after use. The test plant happens to be positioned a few hundred metres from Paper Island.

The Paper Island Baths will utilize one of these two sustainable energy sources to heat its pools.