Havnebadet: Kicked Off Copenhagen’s Transformation
One of Bjarke Ingels’ very first projects. This harbor bath marked the start of a new era of architectural innovation and experimentation, pulling people out of their homes and transforming life in the city.
When the Harbour Bath (Havnebadet) opened in 2003, it caused a big splash as an urban feature celebrating Copenhagen’s magnetic connection to the water.
At Islands Brygge, swimmers plunged into the harbour, which the city had spent 10 years cleaning up following its decades as an industrial conduit.
This first step in the harbour’s transformation was ignited after the site’s temporary harbour bath became so well-loved that a permanent one was commissioned from then-fledgling architect Bjarke Ingels. His practise, PLOT – later divided into JDS and BIG – designed a series of floating pontoons that won the admiration both of the world’s press and its city planners.
For Havnebadet’s structure and forms, Ingels took inspiration from the ships around it, so its wooden walkways resemble decks; its diving tower a prow; its lifeguard tower a funnel. The design also considers the terraced landscape around it as a place to play ball games or grab street food.
The harbour bath accommodates up to 600 people. Of its five pools, only one is for laps. Two pools for children and one for diving show it’s a place designed for playing, sunbathing and hanging out.
Since its inauguration, Havnebadet has caused a ripple effect, inspiring harbour pools Koralbadet and Fisketorvet, and the aquatic activity centre Kalvebod Bølge opposite Islands Brygge.