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Unique aquarium showcases global aquatic life

Photo: Adam Mørk
The Blue Planet in Copenhagen is different from other aquariums in that it presents water environments from across the globe. Complex technology creates 'real' seasons, sunrises and changing winds.
When visitors line up on 22 March to gaze at hammerhead sharks, devil rays and 17,000 other marine animals in the Blue Planet, they will probably not give the under-lying technology much thought. But to create something unique often means tackling problems involving vast technical demands. Consequently, the machinery behind the scenes at the aquarium resembles a space station, according to the client consultant, COWI.

"The solutions necessitated a high technical level because Denmark's aquarium assumes a special position. It communicates aquatic life from around the world – hot and cold water, fresh and salt water – which is entirely unique," says COWI Installation Consultant Torben Schack.

For instance, the space station simulates seasons, night and day and wind directions.

"The technical installations simulate the animals' natural habitats. Extra powerful LED lights were fitted in the aquariums to mimic sunlight and waves," explains Schack.

Handling four million litres of water
Even though the water comes from Oresund, the salinity is usually too low for the ex-otic inhabitants of the Blue Planet. For this reason, a sensor has been installed, monitoring the salinity level. When it is time to clean the four million litres of water in the aquarium, they use a method that is close to nature's own. One to five times an hour, a waterfall installation is activated that saves vast amounts of energy and makes the clean water drop to the bottom of the filter, ready for reuse.

Henrik Schmidt, Project Director at COWI, has been involved in the project since 2006 elaborates:

"A key priority is to subject excess water to sterilisation and UV treatment before releasing it into the sea. There have been cases where microorganisms with no natural enemies were released, leading to uncontrollable propagation."

Facts on the Blue Planet

  • COWI and PLH Arkitekter provide client consultancy services to Bygningsfonden, which is the building contractor on behalf of the Blue Planet.

  • The building is designed by architects 3xN.

  • With its 9,000 m2, the Blue Planet is the largest and most advanced aquarium in Northern Europe.

  • The Blue Planet expects to welcome some 700,000 visitors a year, making it one of Denmark's largest tourist attractions.
  • The aquarium assumes a special position globally because it presents aquatic life in cold, hot, fresh and salt waters. 

  • 3,000 fish and marine animals from the ‘old’ Denmark's aquarium have moved to the Blue Planet, supplemented by an additional 17,000 new animals from across the world.

LAST UPDATED: 16.09.2016