Lighthouse: Criticized and Embraced Beacon



Lighthouse stands at the very tip of Aarhus Ø as a beacon in more than one sense. Denmark’s tallest building has redefined the skyline of The City of Smiles and gained international recognition.

Grand gestures and tall buildings rarely align with the Danish mentality and Jutland modesty. So, when Denmark’s tallest skyscraper stands on the waterfront in Aarhus, it does so not without having endured quite a bit. Standing at 142 meters, Lighthouse is built on a foundation of a financial crisis, difficult soil conditions, and harsh criticism – both before and after its construction.

A Change of Mind

Cultural commentator Anne Sophia Hermansen was one of its fiercest critics. Shortly before Lighthouse was completed, she described the project in Berlingske (a Danish newspaper) as “a gigantic glass dildo,” calling it “an abomination” and “a primitive landmark.”

However, she allowed herself to change her mind – and after a tour of Aarhus Ø, she expressed her admiration for the building’s design and function. She had let go of her strong criticism against the building, as she put it. Now she sees it as a worthy landmark for Aarhus.

More Than a Tall Building

Lighthouse draws inspiration from the surrounding sea. The building’s undulating facades reflect the dynamics of the water in an effort to connect the city’s urban landscape with the maritime nature. But Lighthouse is more than the 142 meters reaching towards the sky.

In the canals by the buildings, blue mussels have been introduced to promote a healthy water environment. Excess concrete from the construction was used to create donut-shaped rings on the seabed in Aarhus Bay, which serve as habitats for fish and sea creatures. Eelgrass has been planted, and several thousand tons of stones were used to construct a stone reef to support the ecosystem around the harbor.

Views and Recognition

Lighthouse is not just a residential project but also an experiential destination. Aarhus Eye, the public viewing platform on the 44th floor, offers an unparalleled panoramic view over all of Aarhus. And in the basement, an exhibition takes visitors on a journey through the history of the city and the bay.

Besides the visual and experiential elements, Lighthouse also serves as a hub for art and culture. Artworks by Hans Krull and Peter Birk adorn both the building and the surrounding area.

In 2023, Lighthouse was named the world’s most beautiful high-rise in the 100-199 meters category by The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat Awards in Singapore.


This translation was performed by an AI-based service and subsequently reviewed by an editor. For any clarifications, refer to the original Danish version.