Stunning timber maritime center stands up to harsh wind and high tide
Snøhetta recently completed an attractive timber maritime center in Esbjerg, Denmark. Inspired by wooden boat construction, the building is designed to withstand punishing local conditions, including high winds and potential flooding.
The Lantern, which is also known as the Maritime Center, gets its name from it being illuminated pleasantly at night, says Snøhetta, and was constructed in collaboration with WERK Arkitekter using the equivalent of around 65 km (roughly 40 miles) of Thermo-treated (i.e. steamed) pine timber. In a nice touch, the building's patterned facade casts shadows that are meant to resemble kayaks. Though its design was inspired by wooden boats, the need to keep visitors comfortable in poor conditions informed the project too.
"The robustness of the center is evident not just in the buildings' ability to facilitate activities, but also in how it creates shelter from strong winds," explained Snøhetta. "The building is planned for high water in case the water exceeds the new surrounding dam. Therefore, the structure up to the first floor is made of concrete, poured in one go. The wooden facade is designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, while the building is designed with areas where visitors can find shelter.
"One such area, and the heart of the project, 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 amphitheater. Along these two amphi-stairs, visitors can enjoy the view and the maritime activities on smaller wind-protected terraces on the first floor."
The building measures roughly 3,800 sq m (almost 41,000 sq ft), including its terrace area and some boat storage areas. At its center is a large hall that hosts practical facilities with space for equipment, tools and gear, while also offering access to the water, space to clean boats, and areas to discuss activities. Elsewhere, the building contains other facilities and social areas.
In addition to its use of timber, the Lantern's sustainable design includes rooftop-based solar panels, which reduce its grid-based electricity usage. Snøhetta also focused on natural light with its carefully placed glazing and inserted large holes in the terrace to allow daylight to permeate below.
The project was the winner of an architecture competition in 2019 and was completed in December 2022.