Temp magazine has issued a themed publication on the history of international organizations. Boris Brorman Jensen contributes with an essay on the UN City on Marmormolen in Copenhagen, designed by the Danish architecture firm 3XN.
‘By far the nicest motif in the building is the atrium. Ironically, the eight-wing building is most closely related to Jeremy Bentham’s famous Panoptikon from 1791. The inner organization resembles Vridsløselille state prison, with the tiny difference that this bastion of diplomacy in Copenhagen’s North Harbour does not signal surveillance and punishment. In the UN City, Bentham’s spatial principles are elegantly reinterpreted as an efficient mechanism for help and transparency. Where Bentham’s design positions an anonymous and faceless watch post, 3XN installs an elegant shiny spiral staircase snaking its way through the floors like an atmospheric ‘Steinway & Sons grand piano meets Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’. Make no mistake. As a visitor, one suddenly feels the mad desire to lose oneself, with a glass of champagne, excitedly observing the institutional atrium’s frictionless machinery. After just a single visit, your truly has pretty much become a fan. The building is an outstanding example of how one of architectural history’s archetypal instruments of oppression can be reinstated in the service of mankind, aided by good intentions. The architecture of the UN City is a cool take on Foucault. Go see for yourself!’