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Frederiksberg Courthouse by 3XN wins a RIBA International Award 2013

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN

3XN architects has won the RIBA International Award 2013 for the Frederiksberg Courthouse located in Frederiksberg, Denmark. For more images as well as the architects' description continue after the jump:

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN

From the Architects:

3XN's extension to a neoclassical courtbuilding in the Copenhagen district of Frederiksberg is among this years nine European winners.

In Respectful Dialogue

In accordance with the Danish design tradition, Frederiksberg Courthouse is the result of a rigorous and pragmatic process, where the challenges of the programme and the site were the creative point of departure. The successful result is an elegantly curved building, classical yet modern.

The design strategy takes its signal from the neighboring neo-classical courthouse designed by Hack Kampmann. To ensure a respectful dialogue with Kampmann’s building only parts of the building plot of the 5,000 m2 site was exploited and the new courthouse is kept lower against Kampmann’s building towards east while rising against the taller buildings towards south.

This resulted in a compact structure of 5,500 m2 designed at a respectful angle of 45 degrees to the listed courthouse and with an open corridor between the buildings, which are connected by a glass footbridge.

A row of old trees was preserved by letting the western facade curve elegantly.

The brick and tile facade express solidity and creates a relationship with the existing cityscape. The elevation of the facade by the main entrance combined with the light tones of the facade adds lightness and gives the courthouse identity.

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN

Democracy at eye-level

The interior is designed in coherence with the values of a modern democracy and communication at eye-level. It is a key parameter that all user groups, from staff to defendants, experience a safe, logic and positive environment with optimally separated flows. 

All rooms are designed to lighten the mood, bringing in daylight from both sides. The design also takes into account the requirements for discretion and limited visibility from the windows which are placed above eye-level. 

An atrium with skylight cuts through the middle of the building; drawing daylight deep into the interior and creating visual connections between decks. Shifting light art promotes a play of light and a pleasant atmosphere. 

In total the building contains eight courtrooms, offices and ancillary rooms in the form of library, meeting and waiting areas, staff canteen, detention facilities and parking. Moreover the programme includes the surrounding garden.

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN

The Construction

Frederiksberg courthouse is a concrete and steel construction. The building has a golden brick and tile façade with steel louvers, which express solidity and creates a relationship with the existing cityscape. Inside flooring is primarily terrazzo and lino. The building rests on a concrete foundation, anchored with ground anchors. The supporting structure is of concrete elements. The building's facade is completed with bearing concrete inner walls. The eastern façade is a truss design. The roof structure is steel trapez roof on steel beams.

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN


The sustainability strategy of Frederiksberg Courthouse is ambitious. The building is categorized as a low energy building in the Danish building code. The building’s compact form, the immense use of daylight together with natural ventilation and the thermo active surfaces with night cooling result in significant energy savings. 

The building has a green roof, which both delays rain water in coming into the sewers and has an insulating effect. Thus the green roof cools the building on very hot days and preserves the heat during the rather cold Danish winters. Since this type of roof does not accumulate heat the same way as traditional roof materials, it has a positive effect on the climate in the immediate surroundings. The outer coating of the building allows rainwater to seep through to the underground.

The light installation by Steven Scott in the foyer area is self-sufficient by solar cells placed on the roof top. 

In the choice of materials there has been a very high focus on assuring a good working environment for the construction staff, who were working on the building site, as well as for the people who were to work in and use the building after completion. All materials are chosen by their long lifespan, their robustness and the possibility to withstand heavy wear or vandalism.

Frederiksberg Courthouse 3XN

Quote from the RIBA jury:

"The considerable bulk of the building is mitigated by a generously proportioned sloping roof which runs down to the lesser form of the neighbouring 1921 classical Court House, to which it is linked by a high-level glazed bridge. Its relevance and sensitivity to context is celebrated through the use of beautifully crafted in-situ and pre-fabricated panels of brickwork, and its fenestration enlivened by the use of external, folding, perforated aluminium shutters.

Internally, the plan, cross-section and circulation are resolved with supreme clarity and simplicity, with a full-height, generously day-lit (and sun-lit) space extending through the length of the building providing an attractive feature for all users, while affording the necessary separation for security and the needs of the Courts service. The court-rooms are models of simplicity and reticence."

Project: Frederiksberg Courthouse
Designed by 3XN
Size: 5,500 m2 (8,200 m2 basement)
Client: Danish Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties
Engineer: Lemming & Eriksson
Landscape: Schønherr
Contractor and Facade: Pihl & Son
Tile: Strøjer Tegl
Carcass: LM – Byg, Brødrene Viuff
Natural Stone Flooring: Londero Mosaik
Roof: Phønix
Carpentry: BGB
Light Art: Steven Scott
Photos: Adam Mørk
Location: Frederiksberg, Denmark

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