[Skip to Content]

UN City - a Star in Copenhagen's Habour

The UN City has become one of Copenhagens noticable landmarks.

Photos: Adam Mørk

UN City

UN City in Copenhagen is the regional headquarter for the United Nations and houses 8 UN-agencies and more than 1,000 employees from more than 100 countries, yet the building appears very open from the outside. Located on Marble Pier on an artificial island in the Northern Harbour of Copenhagen, the building is surrounded by a moat instead of high walls or fences, making the white building with the characteristic shape of an eight-fingered star visible, even welcoming, from the landside.

From the seaside, when tourists sail in with the ferry from Oslo, the white building is there to greet them and welcome them to Copenhagen, home to the largest UN hub in Scandinavia. The iconic star-shape with the 8 arms symbolizes the UN’s efforts to reach out to people all over the world, and the openness of UN is reflected by the building.

UN City Campus 1But the building is not only open to curious glances from tourists. UN is currently working on establishing a visitors’ centre that will enable tourists to have a look inside the star-formed building and learn much more about one of Scandinavia’s most sustainable buildings and the work of the 8 UN-organizations gathered in the house.

Over the first 10 months of the building’s lifetime, more than 20,000 guests have set foot in the house, underlining the openness of the UN and the building to curious guests and people visiting UN City for work purposes, and the number is expected to grow when visitors and tourists become able to participate in everything from guided tours to lectures on human rights and the fight against hunger. 

UN City is located in the northern harbour of Copenhagen, the world’s most liveable city according to Monocle. Copenhagen is chosen as the host for UN City since it’s a well-functioning city that gives UN easy access to Copenhagen Airport and a well-educated workforce, and it is a city that places a great deal of emphasis on sustainability. The airport and the city’s infrastructure is of great importance to UNICEF, who has constructed a state-of-the-art, fully automatic warehouse close to the white building, where thousands of cubic metres of humanitarian aid is shipped to destinations all over the world on a daily basis. 

Copenhagen’s focus on sustainability falls in line with the principles behind UN City, the building itself being certified Platinum by LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) and the winner of the European Commission’s Green Building Award.

The building is saving resources and energy by using cold seawater in its cooling system, by having 1,400 solar panels on the roof and by using 3,000,000 litres of rain water for the toilets every year, while the innovative sun shades on the building’s exterior can absorb energy from the sun during cold times and reflect the heat on warm, sunny days in the capital of Denmark. 

Inside the building, 8 UN agencies work for development, prosperity and peace all over the world. All the different agencies have different goals, from improving the conditions of the world’s children to fighting hunger or protecting the environment. Therefore, a wide variety of functions are undertaken in the building – from communication targeted towards the European population over procurement of vital equipment and medicine.

UN City Campus 2

Procurement and storage of equipment is one of the key functions of UN City, and therefore UNICEF’s supply division has constructed a state-of-the-art, fully-automatic warehouse known as Campus 2, not far from Campus 1, the white building on the Marble Pier. From here, more than a thousand cubic metres of aid can be shipped to destinations all over the world on a daily basis.