#TenYearsOn | 10 Years of UN City Copenhagen
On 4 July 2013, United Nations City Copenhagen was founded as an embodiment of the former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s ‘One UN’ approach.
In bringing together various UN organisations under one roof, UN City leverages effective and efficient use of resources in addition to being an energy-efficient building by design. The joint premises also facilitate collaboration and knowledge-sharing among resident agencies and with other public and private organisations to create synergies in addressing the world’s most pressing issues, such as inequality and climate change.
Over the past decade, the world’s first UN City has become a symbol of international cooperation and a catalyst for sustainable development in the Nordics and globally.
Today, UN City Copenhagen – comprising Campus 1 on Marmorvej and Campus 2 on Oceanvej in the Northern Harbour district of the Danish capital – is a home to 11 United Nations agencies and 2,000+ personnel from 100+ countries.
Campus 1 was inaugurated on 4 July 2013 and is an office building with 45,000 m2 of floor space. Campus 2 is the UNICEF state-of-the-art humanitarian warehouse, which was built further out on the Nordhavn waterfront upon the construction of Campus 1. The warehouse was handed over to UNICEF in 2012 and became fully operational in 2013.
Campus 1 | UN City – A Hub for the Sustainable Development Goals
The United Nations has been present in Copenhagen, serving as a hub for global and regional operations, since 1957.
6 United Nations agencies were based in the Danish capital when the idea of a UN City building emerged in 2002.
In 2000, the concept of a more efficient and coherent United Nations was strongly underlined in the declaration of the UN Millennium Summit of World Leaders.
In support of a more unified UN, the Government of Denmark decided to explore the opportunity of moving all Copenhagen-based UN agencies into a single compound.
The aim of the co-location was to facilitate cooperation among the agencies, thereby contributing to more coherent and effective development assistance from the UN.
Construction of UN City
In 2005, the location of Marmormolen (the Marble Pier) was chosen with the vision of converting the area from an industrial and storage one to an attractive cityscape with residential and business spaces and UN City.
The construction of UN City Copenhagen Campus 1 started in 2009 with the goal to accommodate 1,500 staff in office spaces covering 45,000 m2.
In May 2011, the foundations are in place and construction of the first stories begins. In September 2011, the first five “fingers” of the building are now complete and the building stands six stories tall.
From above, the eight-pointed star shape of UN City is a visual reference to the United Nations reaching out to all corners of the world.
Architecture of UN City
In October 2011, former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited the construction site, and walked up the staircase for the first time.
The architects, 3XN, have designed the staircase as a dramatic spatial sculpture symbolising the UN’s work to create dialogue, interaction, and cooperation between people. In daily life, the sculptural form inspires UN staff to use the stairs, turning the staircase into a platform for informal meetings.
All office spaces are characterised by an open and flexible layout encouraging knowledge-sharing and interaction.
The auditoriums constitute a state-of-the-art conference facility with a total capacity of 450 persons, equipped with all the necessary resources for interpretation including designated booths for interpreters.
From the design phase onwards, sustainability has been at the heart of UN City:
- Teams involved in the UN City project have worked to comply with local Danish and international environmental standards.
- UN City (Campus 1) has been designed to use at least 55% less energy than expected from a similar-sized office building.
- UN City (Campus 1) is registered with the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) sustainability ratings system as LEED Platinum.
- In 2012, UN City (Campus 1) was awarded the prestigious ‘GreenBuilding Award 2012‘ by the European Commission for New Buildings.
- Sophisticated solar shades on the building’s facade can be opened and closed to either trap or reflect the sun’s heat.
- More than 1,400 solar panels line the roof of UN City to support the goal of generating renewable energy on-site.
- UN City (Campus 1) has been designed to limit the use of chemicals and pollutants during both its construction and use.
- To reduce pollution from transportation, UN City encourages cycling to work. There are 680 bicycle racks across the site, and additional 115 in the basement.
- Cold seawater pumped through heat exchangers in the building’s cooling system almost entirely eliminates the need for electricity to power the cooling cycle.
- Innovative aerators have been placed in the taps in kitchens, toilets, and showers throughout the building whereby low-flow taps reduce water usage.
Today, in 2023, the Campus 1 building accommodates 1,700 personnel in office spaces covering 45,000 square metres, working towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Campus 2 | UNICEF's Global Supply and Logistics Hub – World's Largest Humanitarian Warehouse
Campus 2 on Oceanvej is the site of UNICEF’s Global Supply and Logistics Hub.
At 20,000 square metres, it is the largest humanitarian warehouse in the world and stores products to manage safe water, sanitation and hygiene, school and medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, among a wide range of items that facilitate children’s healthcare, education, and protection. Some emergency supplies are stored on behalf of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
UNICEF’s supply facilities were a donation from the Government of Denmark, and they express the country’s commitment to support efforts to achieve results for children. The city of Copenhagen was chosen for its access to international shipping lanes and world-class transport infrastructure.
UNICEF’s supply operations in Copenhagen started in 1962 as UNIPAC – the UNICEF Packing and Assembly Centre – which was relocated from New York to a disused factory in the Port of Copenhagen.
In March 2012, with the construction of the UN City Campus 1 building in Copenhagen, UNICEF’s supply operations moved three kilometres from its original location to its current state-of-the-art premises on Oceanvej. The new UNICEF global supply warehouse complex took 2 years to build and became fully operational in February 2013.
UNICEF Today: State-of-the-Art Automation
The high-bay storage and retrieval facility is fully automated and 24 metres high, 63 metres wide, and 150 metres long. Operated by 8 robot cranes, the facility moves supplies in and out of its racking system, orchestrating the pallets’ positioning and deployments based on turnover and expiry dates. The total capacity of the facility is 36,000 pallets.
The global hubs combined contain sufficient emergency supplies to meet the needs of 250,000 people for 3 months.