Danish National Opera House

Copenhagen, Denmark

In 2000, the A.P. Møller and Chastine Mc-Kinney Møller Foundation donated funds to build an opera hall in Copenhagen. Five years later, in January 2005, this state of the art performance venue was officially opened on the historic island of Dokoen in Copenhagen harbour. Buro Happold supported Henning Larsen Architects and Danish engineers Ramboll in creating this modern masterpiece.


Working across structural, mechanical and electrical aspects of this project, our team were presented with a variety of challenges. These included realising the 32 metre long cantilevered roof that soars out over the arrival plaza, and ensuring optimum acoustics and visitor comfort levels inside the foyer and main 1,800 seat auditorium.

Our engineers realised the 32 metre long cantilevered roof, which sweeps out over the entrance foyer, using a design based on that of an aircraft wing. Image: Henning Larsens Tegnestue


Our engineers liaised closely with the Ramboll team to develop a design for the complex cantilever roof. Based on a similar concept to that of an airplane wing, the final concept combined a relatively small structural depth with an extensive span, allowing the roof to appear to effortlessly float above the plaza below.

Within the main auditorium, we conducted a number of simulations using computational fluid dynamics in order to find a building services strategy that ensured visitor comfort without compromising the quality of the acoustics. Our engineers then worked alongside the wider design team to coordinate the installation of these services and other technical elements within the in situ concrete superstructures.

This attention to detail resulted in an experience akin to sitting inside a giant stringed instrument, with the beautiful balance of the acoustics matching the exquisite craftsmanship of the solid maple and smoked oak interior.

Engineering a world class opera house with panoramic views out over Copenhagen’s historic harbour. Image: Henning Larsens Tegnestue


By working collaboratively with the wider design team, we were able to erect one of the largest and most innovative buildings in Denmark. Visible from across Copenhagen harbour, this inspirational structure completes an architectural trinity with the magnificent Marble Church and Amalienborg castle.

Image: Buro Happold
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