WERK Arkitekter and Snøhetta create maritime centre to light up the Danish west coast
Inspired by wooden boat construction, The Lantern is created as a shared space for watersport clubs and visitors along the port in the seaport town Esbjerg.
20 Jan 2023

Following a design competition in 2019, the firms have developed a new landmark for Esbjerg municipality, which just opened to the public. Functioning as a hub for maritime activities, it’s housing multiple watersport clubs, boat storage, training facilities, a large workshop space, and social functions. The circular, open design invites visitors in from every angle, creating an accessible and inclusive building. ​

The building design is inspired by the geometry and craftsmanship of boats with round-shaped holes bringing daylight down to the ground floors core, paying homage to the maritime tradition and its significance in the port of Esbjerg. The façade is created to reflect the water’s energy with the pace and horizontal rippling effect experienced when throwing a stone in the water.

— The goal has been to create a unique destination that lights up the Danish west Coast, so everyone can find their way to new communities at the sea, says Thomas Kock, creative director at WERK Arkitekter.

The robustness of the centre also includes how it creates shelter from strong winds. The building is planned for high water in case the water exceeds the new surrounding dam and the wooden façade is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, while the building is designed with areas where visitors can find shelter. One such area is a lifted, publicly accessible terrace, gathering all the different activities of the building. Connected to the first floor, the terrace is accessible from the two main stairs, creating an amphitheatre. Along these two ​Amphi stairs, visitors can enjoy the view and the maritime activities on smaller wind-protected terraces on the first floor.

The upper level of the 3,800 m2 building houses various clubs, including clubs for rowing, kayaking, sailing, diving and triathlon, as well as common areas, an educational centre and training facilities. Frank D. Foray, senior architect and project manager at Snøhetta, explains that the maritime centre has room for everyone.

— From the experienced diver or professional kayaker to a crab-fishing school class or a random passer-by, he says. The Lantern invites everyone to a peek inside the maritime life and outwards to the sea with its endless horizon.