Copenhagen Harbour Bath / PLOT

Architects: PLOT = BIG + JDS
Location: Copenhagen,
Partner in Charge: Bjarke Ingels
Project Leader: Finn Nørkjær
Project Architect: Jakob Møller
Contributors: Christian Finderup, Henning Stüben, Ingrid Serritslev, Marc Jay
Collaborator: JDS, CC DESIGN
Constructed Area: 2,500 sqm
Project year: 2003
Budget: US $787,000
Photographs: , Casper Dalhoff, Esben Bruun, Hanne Fuglbjerg, JDS

Copenhagen’s harbour is in the midst of a transformation from an industrial port and traffic junction to being the cultural and social centre of the city. The Harbour Bath has been instrumental in this evolution. It extends the adjacent park over the water by incorporating the practical needs and demands for accessibility, safety and programmatic flexibility. Rather than imitating the traditional Danish indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, piers, boat ramps, cliffs, playgrounds and pontoons. As a terraced landscape, the Harbour Bath completes the transition from land to water, making it possible for the citizens of Copenhagen to go for a swim in the middle of the city.


People go to the Harbour Bath in the way that people go to the beach rather than the indoor swimming baths. Not necessarily to exercise, but primarily to socialize, play and enjoy the sun. This means that the water should not only be able to accommodate more interactive and playful activities than the focused (and perhaps lonesome) swimming back-and-forth, the land should also be geared towards a more accommodating and generous environment.


With an indoor swimming bath you have some land and have to design the pools. With the harbour, we have some water and have to design the land; a swimming bath in reverse. Since land is a factor we have influence on as architects, it is in the interface between the two that we can create desirable conditions. In a way, reinterpreting the water that is there by adding land.

diagrams 01


The Harbour Bath is free of charge, but for security reasons the lifeguards have to be able to control the amount of visitors. With the given water area, an equivalent swimming bath would be able to accommodate up to 600 people. The previous harbour bath allowed for only half of that amount. By increasing the land areas, but maintaining the water area within the security limit, we can extend the capacity to 600 by allowing people to chill in the sun while resting from the aquatic activities.


The Harbour Bath will – with its location in the centre of the harbour – be a symbol of the presence of leisure and aquatic culture in the heart of the city. Visible from ‘the main land’ and the nearby Langebro (“The Long Bridge”), it should exploit the possibility for being an icon of new possibilities that the reclaimed harbour offers to contemporary urban life.

diagrams 03


When going to the beach or on holidays, it is usually to seek out exotic landscapes: the wide, open beach, the intimate lagoon, the rocky shore with cliffs and islands to jump from, the calm water or the big waves, the sand in the surf where the water is shallow and sand castles can be built. Rather than imitating the indoor swimming bath, the Harbour Bath offers an urban harbour landscape with dry-docks, cranes, piers, boat ramps, buoys, playgrounds and pontoons.

Cite: "Copenhagen Harbour Bath / PLOT" 05 Jan 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 16 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    I grew up in Copenhagen and lived there up until I left for College in the states recently, and I can tell you that this place is absolute crap.
    The idea of creating a safe place to swim in a harbor is genius, but the long slim lane makes the place very inconvenient for the 90% casual swimmers, and inconvenient for the 10% who try to swim seriously because both groups are very much in each others way. If you head down in front of the Silos on the other hand (you should have a post about this if you do not), there is a long bridge that makes for a great swimming opportunity
    Best wishes

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    this thing has been around for years, and i have to say, its not aging terribly well. That being said, I jumped off the platform twice, and it was fantastic!

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Beleza André Amaral , vai ser esse projeto mesmo que vou usar como pesquisa e apresentação , para trabalho de projeto sobre Balneario da anhembi. rsrs

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