Arcgency’s The Krane takes the concept of adaptive reuse to new heights, metamorphosing a 1940s coal-loading crane into a luxurious private retreat and meeting room, creating a centrepiece for the reinvention of Copenhagen’s northern industrial harbour. This unique boutique development is the result of the collaboration between Union Holding head, the developer Klaus Kastbjerg (one of the key players behind the urban regeneration of Nordhavn and nearby Paper Island), and Arcgency’s Mads Møller.
The central concept for The Krane draws on the heritage of the crane — constructed in 1944 for coal-loading — employing black as the prevalent colour scheme inside and out. The effect of this is to create an aesthetic that paradoxically contrasts with the crane’s surroundings whilst simultaneously receding into them. The development’s program is distributed across the crane’s multi-tiered structure, and consists of a reception area at the ground level, a meeting room contained within a glass box on the first level, a spa and terrace on the second level, and a private retreat on the top level, replete with a lounge and terrace.
Architect Mads Møller describes the intended effect of the design in terms of “the integration of sensations — sight, sound and stemning” — the Danish word for atmosphere — and it is this sense of atmosphere that encapsulates the material-focused, less-is-more attitude towards design for which Denmark is renowned. The neutrality of the interior finishes and simple-lines of inbuilt furniture enhance, rather than distract from, the expansive unobstructed views afforded over Copenhagen’s harbours, as far as the Øresund Bridge connecting Denmark to Sweden.
The clean-lines of interior timber surfaces maintain an atmosphere of quietude whilst concealing clever functional nooks and furniture, such as the kitchen-area tucked neatly within a timber-panelled cupboard. Møller elaborates on the aesthetic strategy behind the interior design, explaining how “black plays a pivotal role in muting and minimising visual distractions so people feel almost enveloped in the interior.”
The emphasis on neutrality and serenity is continued across all aspects of The Krane’s program. Whilst the cantilevered spa room has been converted from an up-cycled shipping container — consistent with the industrial aesthetic — its interior material finishes consist of the luxurious, yet unobtrusive tones of polished stone and wood. Similarly, the meeting room is sparsely decorated, with timber floors and floor-to-ceiling windows that frame views along the harbour’s edge. Circulation across the various levels of program is distributed via industrial stairs, connecting the crane to the ground below — these can also be raised to isolate access to The Krane.
The contrast between the rough and raw textures and relics of the once-industrial harbour of Nordhavn and the luxurious material finishes and fine craftsmanship and joinery of The Krane is stark; it is in this sense that the development frames not only the play of light across the harbour’s waters, but also the working-class heritage of the area. Elaborating on the significance of this interplay and his ambitions to maintain a connection to the past throughout the development, Union Holding’s Klaus Kastbjerg explains, “how can you tell your kids about an old industrial port if there’s nothing left of it? New buildings don’t have the same charm or story to tell. I wanted to retain the crane and transform it into an icon for Nordhavn.”