FN Byen: Examplary sustainability


Photo: Adam Mørk - 3XN

Copenhagen’s UN City was built behind a vast security system that protects the global organization on the harborfront.

FN Byen – or UN City – is a city within the city. Its purpose-built structure houses 11 different UN agencies to create a campus environment that embodies the ‘one UN’ approach of a unified, collaborative and efficient global organisation. Designed by human-centric architects 3XN, the eight-winged star design is a reference to the UN’s operations in every corner of the world.

On the approach to FN Byen, its security becomes immediately apparent as a defining feature of the building’s internal and exterior functionality and the reason why FN Byen separates itself from Marmormolen pier’s surrounding residential area and the adjacent neighbourhood of Århusgadekvarteret. In contrast to the sheltered location, steel stilts lift the building’s wings from ground level, and perforated white aluminium shutters allow a glimpse of the building’s activity from all sides, helping to retain a sense of openness and transparency.

In keeping with Copenhagen’s sustainable credentials, FN Byen holds the highest energy and environmental certificate (LEED platinum). The sustainable ambitions of this building are clear just by looking at its dynamic facade. The 1,400 dual-wing folding shutters are in continuous motion as the light moves around the building in the course of the day.Its roof is covered in electricity-generating solar panels; seawater helps cool interior spaces; and rainwater is reused to flush toilets. Such solutions enable it to use 55% less energy than similar buildings, making it one of the city’s greenest.


  • UN City represents the whole world, as reflected by its staff of approximately 1,500 employees with more than 100 different nationalities.
  • Every year, UN City collects approximately 3 million liters of rainwater – enough water to flush the toilet 5,300 times a day!
  • UN City currently houses 11 UN organizations, including: the World Health Organization (WHO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and UNICEF.

Close by:

  • At present, the only neighbor to UN City is Marmorbyen (“Marble City”). Marmorbyen comprises the gray buildings along the Marmormolen (“Marble Pier”). Designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen, a more shaded promenade stretches along the pier, offering an alternative to the popular Sandkaj across the water.
  • In a few years, however, a new neighbor will appear at the pier. DFDS – operator of the Oslo ferry that sails past Marmormolen daily – will be opening a new headquarters here in 2021, designed by PLH and described as “a ferry on land”. The 15,500 sqm facility will be the workplace of the company’s 700 employees in Copenhagen.


Copenhagen, Østerbro


By & Havn


E. Pihl & Søn A/S


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