Hotel Alsik - Sønderborg (DK)

Northern light

Designed by the heirs of Henning Larsen as part of Frank Gehry's masterplan, Hotel Alsik in the Danish city of Sønderborg is an outstanding example of contemporary architecture and urban renewal
Elena Pasoli
Henning Larsen
A. Engaard
Year of completion

When the municipal council of Sønderborg, a port city located on the Als Sound in southern Denmark close to the border with Germany, wanted to redevelop its old industrial waterfront, they awarded the masterplan to none other than Frank Gehry, the celebrated Canadian architect perhaps best known for his work on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris. Gehry’s masterplan transformed a former industrial waterfront into a vibrant new neighbourhood for residents and visitors that offers cultural spaces, restaurants, shops, housing, green areas, a multicultural centre and much more.
The highlight of this urban regeneration project and the largest building in the area is Hotel Alsik, a 19-storey glass and aluminium tower designed by another star of contemporary architecture, Henning Larsen Architects. Larsen, who died in 2013, was one of the most innovative architects of the twentieth century, renowned for his ability to blend cultures and his skill in the handling of light, the true hallmark of all his projects. The practice he founded in 1959 now employs 600 people at offices from Copenhagen to Riyadh, Oslo and Hong Kong and has received dozens of international awards, including the prestigious 2013 Mies van der Rohe Award, the European Union prize for contemporary architecture.
With its height of 70 metres and a total floor area of 24,800 square metres, Hotel Alsik stands out from the surrounding low-rise buildings while offering a contemporary architectural interpretation of the existing urban fabric. An abstract brick pattern weaves its way up the aluminium panel and glass façade, creating a strikingly modern reinterpretation of this most traditional of building materials. At the top of the building is a 360-degree public viewing platform offering extraordinary views of the city and the surrounding countryside. When the sun goes down, the viewing platform lights up and its beam conjures up the image of a lighthouse, a fitting tribute to the city’s character and maritime heritage. Along with the viewing platform, the hotel has many other publicly accessible spaces including a bar, event rooms and a 6,000 square metre spa, making it a unique hospitality facility for visitors to the city as well as an important gathering place for residents.
The building is part of Sønderborg’s plan to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2029. The hotel is certified 76% carbon neutral and is a model of excellence for the clean-tech companies based in the area.
The interiors offer a magnificent example of the purest Nordic style, with spaces, light and furnishings that embody the very best of the Scandinavian design tradition. The overall design is enhanced by the large porcelain floor tiles from Cerdisa’s Blackboard collection, inspired by the solidity and dynamism of timeworn stone. The Ash colour chosen by the architects enhances the spaces and fits in perfectly with both the reception and spa areas and the outdoor areas surrounding the large swimming pool.

Cerdisa, Blackboard
porcelain stoneware
60x120, 60x60, 30x60 cm
Technical characteristics
Water absorpion (ISO 10545-3): ≤ 0,5%
Chemical resistance (ISO 10545-13): B MIN
Resistance to deep abrasion (ISO 10545-6): ≤ 175 mm3
Stain resistance (ISO 10545-14): conforme
Frost resistance (ISO 10545-12): conforme
Modulus of rupture and breaking strength (ISO 10545-4): ≥ 1300 N ( ≥ 7,5 mm) ≥ 700 N ( < 7,5 mm)≥ 35 N/mm2
Slip resistance (DIN 51130): R10 A+B nt , R11 - A+B+C grp
Thermal shock resistance (ISO 10545-9): conforme
Crazing resistance (ISO 10545-11): conforme
Linear thermal expansion (ISO 10545-8): conforme
Certifications and awards
ISO 14001
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