A Coal Crane Houses an Unexpected Retreat and Meeting Room in Copenhagen

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By Melissa Dalton / Published by Melissa Dalton
Suspended high in the air over an industrial landscape in Nordhavn, a working harbor in Copenhagen, is an upscale retreat and meeting room housed in the most unlikely of places: a former coal crane.

The brainchild of architecture firm Arcgency and owner Klaus Kastbjerg, The Krane is a multi-tiered structure that includes a reception area on the ground floor, a meeting room called the Glass Box on the first floor, a spa and terrace on the second floor, and a retreat atop that, complete with a lounge and another terrace. Regarding the inspiration for the project, Kastbjerg says, "With its history and such incredible views of the water, I decided to have it reincarnated into something contemporary but with soul." 

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That was accomplished by paying special attention to how the redesign would create a multi-sensory experience. "It’s all part of the vision, where the focus has been the integration of sensations—sight, sound and stemning (the Danish word for atmosphere)," says architect and master builder Mads Møller. "The Krane involved a 360-degree inside-outside approach. Natural light directly affects how we feel in a space and our happiness overall. So we optimized the inside to capture natural daylight and set the stage for the views of the water outside."

To that end, the interior of the Krane room is enveloped in black, a nod to the structure's coal past and a means to frame the views and mute distractions. Regional artisans were utilized in the fabrication of the decor, with many primary pieces designed to be integrated into wall panels and disappear.

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In contrast, the second-floor spa embraces a lighter scheme that also captures the views. Kastbjerg says, "With the winter weather in Denmark, we couldn’t really have a spa outside. But who wants to sit inside and miss the nature? So we designed one wall completely in glass."

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The first-floor meeting room also eschews a cold and corporate interior. Møller says, "It kick starts your imagination. Adding to the calm atmosphere are the wooden floors, their natural aroma, and the acoustic ceiling."

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Says Kastbjerg of the coal crane's reincarnation: "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."

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