Copenhagen is UNESCO-UIA World Capital of Architecture until 2026
Copenhagen manages a one-year programme with a focus on the future of architecture. Discover the city’s unique approach to citizen-centric urban desig...
With a passion for excellent craftsmanship and art, the two Carlsberg brewers have left a true architectural and artistic mark in the City District, creating the starting point and inspiration for developing the new district.
The Carlsberg City District is a uniquely composed city district, where 15% of the buildings bear witness to the historic brewing era of the Carlsberg beer brand that inhabited the area from 1847-2008. And it is these listed and preservation-worthy buildings that contribute to the unique historic wing rush that permeates the neighbourhood.
It is buildings shaped and influenced by brewer and founder J.C. Jacobsen and his son Carl Jacobsen and their mutual disputes. And with their innovative take on science, art, and modern building, many of the constructions showcase how the functionality of production can go hand in hand with architectural beauty.
With great respect for the story behind, the buildings have been the centre of attention in the process of developing the new Carlsberg City District, where several sights have been subjects of successful preservation and transformation projects. At the same time, new buildings such as The Researchers’ Residencies are constructed with reference and respect to this historical approach.
The unique buildings and landmarks in the Carlsberg City District invite you to consider the history and how we maintain and transform the past into a modern and urban social city district. Below we have collected a list and created a map of some of the historic buildings which have contributed to the expression and significance of the city district.
from chimney to listed sculpture
With the twisted chimney towering 56 meters up in the air, brewer Carl Jacobsen wanted to prove how a factory building could, besides having a function, be beautiful as well. Inspired by the Notre Dame church in Paris, the chimney is decorated with eight gargoyles. The twisted chimney was built in 1900 and was designed by the architect Vilhelm Dahlerup, which, among other things, was behind the Elephant Gate in The Carlsberg City District, The Royal Theatre at Kongens Nytorv, and the winter garden of one of Copenhagen’s most renowed museums – Ny Carlsbergs Carlsberg’s Glyptotekthe new glyptotheque. Today the chimney is a listed sculpture.
the most picturesque landmark for Carlsberg City District
The Elephant Gate was built as an entrance gate to access the brewery from the Valby site and is one of the listed buildings in the Carlsberg City District. The gate got its name from the four enormous elephants that carry the tower above them and symbolizes the four surviving children of Carl and Ottilia Jacobsen. The tower was initially considered a water tower but eventually became a corn silo. Carl Jacobsen got the inspiration for the statue after seeing an elephant statue in Rome and got Vilhelm Dahlerup to create it. The elephants are also chosen because they symbolize faithfulness and strength, which are the pillars of Carl Jacobsen’s motto: “Laboremus pro patria”, which means “Let us work for our fatherland”. The elephants are decorated with swastikas on the sides. The swastikas were used by the Carlsberg brewery because of its original meaning as a symbol of the sun and its course in the sky, while the word swastika also means “that which brings happiness”. Today the Elephant Gate is a popular passage for bikes, cars, and pedestrians and cars in the Carlsberg City District.
the former heart of the Carlsberg city district’s production
The Machine Central was built between 1923-1929 to be the heart of the brewery as it was built to gather all machines, which provided the brewery with cooling, electric lights, and power to the electric engines. Previously the machines had been placed where the energy need was, resulting in energy loss and money loss. The Machine Central became a vast energy producer playing a key role in Carlsberg’s success as an export brand and contains a great space with granite columns, marble floors and powerful machines surrounded by a golden gallery designed by the architect Carl Harrild. The Machine Central shows how Carlsberg historically always has been self-sufficient and could even provide the rest of Copenhagen with electricity.
from bottling hall to fitness center
Designed in 1949 by architect Thyge Hvass, the Straw Store was initially built to be a bottling hall and got the name the King’s Bottling Brewhouse. The bottling hall was highly effective and could bottle more than 10.000 bottles within an hour. New technologies transformed the bottling hall into a truck school in the 1970s instead, where the employees of Carlsberg learned how to drive a truck. It wasn’t until 1992 that the building became a straw store. Due to the construction of two new stables with insufficient space for the straw to the brewing horses. Today the building houses a fitness center and a doctor’s office.
brickwork façade for Copenhagen University College
The Hanging Gardens were built in the 1960s by architect Svenn Eske Kristensen. He had been assigned to find a solution to the new façade of the building New Tap, which neighbored J.C. Jacobsen’s Garden. With the new façade, he had to make sure that it wasn’t possible to build any further into the honorary residence’s garden area. At the same time, it shouldn’t be possible for the brewers to look directly into the garden. This resulted in the façade with 13 vertical staggered departments built in the characteristic, patterned brickwork with windows, where you can only look to the sides. Now it is the façade of the University College Copenhagen.
Carlsberg’s former laboratory
The Grey House is, with its location, one of the main domiciles in the Carlsberg City District. The oldest part of the house dates back to 1875, and in 1882 Carl Jacobsen bought the house for his brewery New Carlsberg. The Grey House has functioned as an administration building, residence, office, and laboratory as the house has experienced numerous extensions. The building has undergone a more extensive restoration, bringing back many of the original details, like the elephant head doorknobs. Today different several companies have moved into The Grey House, making the house an example of how the existing buildings interact with modern architecture.
from beer storage to boutique hotel
The storage basement was built in 1969 by architect Svenn Eske Kristensen to store the beer—a function that previously took place under the ground – thereof its name Storage Basement 3. The building is renowned for its fascinating façade, which consists of 64 discs covered in gold leaf and derived the name ‘The castle’ by the brewery workers. Today, the building has been transformed into the Hotel Ottilia and called one of Copenhagen’s best transformation projects. The building was also acclaimed as the most beautiful in Copenhagen in 2019 by the municipality of Copenhagen.
from boiler house to burger joint
Located in Brewer’s square as part of the New Carlsberg brewery, Hammershus was built in 1880-81 by architect Vilhelm Dahlerup. Originally Hammershus was a boiler house that delivered energy to the brewer house, which was where all New Carlsberg beer was produced at that time. Hammershus lost its original function in 1926 when The Machine Central got built. In the 1950s, it turned into a kind of canteen for the workers, and in the 1980s, it became conference rooms for the Carlsberg management. Today Hammershus houses the popular burger chain Gasoline Grill.
from malt storage to SPA
The Malt Magazine was one of the central buildings in the New Carlsberg brewery. Consecrated in 1881, The Malt Magazine consisted of The Brewery House, The Machine Central and The Malt Magazine. It was architect Vilhelm Dahlerup who was behind the façade of the building while Carl Jacobsen was in charge of decorating the inside, having a very functionalistic approach in mind creating short distances between the machine power, materials, and brewery. After The Malt Magazine was taken out of service, the building was used for several purposes – from storing books and films due to its cold and dark environment and a gym for the local residents. Today The Malt magazine is a part of Hotel Ottilia and also houses the spa AIRE Ancient baths in the basement.
a from a Mineral Water Factory to modern housing
Built in 1920-27, The Mineral Water Factory was used to house the production and storage of Carlsberg’s Mineral waters. J.C. Jacobsen was the first person in Scandinavia to create sodas, and his invention quickly became popular, which is why they needed bigger spaces for the production. The Mineral Water Factory also plays a big role in, why sparkling water in Danish is called Danish water, as they were the first ones in Denmark to produce it. The Mineral Water Factory is the only listed building in the Carlsberg City District, which has been turned into private housing on the top floors, offices on the middle floors and store spaces on the ground floor. It is the architect Dorte Mandrup, who has been in charge of the transformation and has continued the legacy of The Mineral Water Factory in the next door building.
the former headquarters turned into housing
The Administration Building was built by architect Vilhelm Klein in 1903 and is also one of the buildings in the city district, which is worthy of preservation. The building was the previous headquarters of the Carlsberg administration. In 2020 the building was turned into modern housing and a community house for the residents. A transformation also led by architect Dorte Mandrup.
the beautiful brewhouse
The New Carlsberg Brewhouse from 1901 was devised by Carl Jacobsen with a wish for creating beautiful surroundings for his employees, while the architect Vilhelm Klein designed it. The façade of the building is inspired by Palazzo Bavilacque in Verona and on top of the building Carl Jacobsen placed a cobber sculpture by C.J. Bonnesen called “Thor’s fight against the frost giants”.
the villa of brewer Carl Jacobsen and original glyptotek
The Carlsberg Museum & Business centre are located in Carl and Ottilia Jacobsen’s private villa, which was built in 1891-1892. As an extension of his villa, Carl also opened the first glyptotheque to the public, believing that art is for everyone. The Glyptotheque on New Carlsberg, which it was also called, opened as a result of Carl Jacobsen’s impressive collection of sculptures, which was growing vastly as he was a passionate collector. And as his collection grew out of the first glyptotheque, Carl Jacobsen opened the New Glyptotheque in 1897, which is still a working museum today.
a unique gate of the Carlsberg City District
The old and very beautiful gate which joins the detailed tower building with the previous malt silo building on the other side of the street also known as Dipylon House. The gate is also one of architect Vilhelm Dahlerup’s works. The Dipylon House has now been transformed into a large office building by Arkitema Architects, who themselves have moved their offices into the building.
From yeast Cellar production to modern offices
The Yeast Cellar Extension is a historical cellar above the ground built in 1946-1963. With its characteristic red brick façade, the building is partly worthy of preservation. Towards the east, the building is preserved at its full-length facing Brewer’s square, while it has merged with the new property Theodora house towards the east. Many historical details have been kept, and you can still catch a glimpse of the bronze relief of J.C Jacobsen, who is in the middle of cooling down the bottom yeast at a water post during a trip. Today the building is used for offices.
from functional building to Denmark’s national dance and choreography collection point
The Boiler Hall is one of the most significant architectural works in the Carlsberg City District and is considered to be one of the most functional industrial buildings. It is also the architect Carl Harrild, who is behind the building. The Boiler Hall was constructed to assemble all energy production in one place in combination with the Machine Central. The buildings were the suppliers of cooling and warmth, electric lights and power to the whole brewery. The building has been admired for its accomplished and innovative construction in connection with hygiene, as it wasn’t possible to see coal, ashes, fire, or smoke in the building. In that way, the brewery avoided their employers getting sick. The Boiler Hall is now being transformed into Denmark’s national dance and choreography collection point.
from lighthouse to gallery
The listed Chalk Tower from 1883 is a lighthouse by architect P.C. Bønecke. The tower is made of limestone from Stevns and not chalk, which the name otherwise implies, and was used as a search mark; how it also got its name as a lighthouse. The brewer specifically chose to place it near Valby Hill in order for the electric light, which was rare at that time, to light up the darkness. The tower is adorned with the words “Work and frugality”, which was J.C. Jacobsen’s language of choice, and had a concierge accommodation attached. In 2009 the tower and accommodation got rented out to work as a combined residence and atelier for an artist. The Chalk Tower is today the venue of the international gallery von Bartha Copenhagen, renowned for using distinctive architectural spaces, which showcases contemporary art.
the iconic and sculptural old entrance
The iconic Star Gate was built in 1883 and, in combination with the Chalk Tower, marks the entrance to the old Carlsberg on J.C. Jacobsens gade. On top of the arch, a twelve-pointed star is placed, and a trademark J.C. Jacobsen had registered in the newly created trademark register. On all four sides of the gate, four different years are presented: 1847 for the first brew, 1867 for the fire on the brewery, 1870 for the annexe brewery, and 1883 for the construction of the gate.
the Carlsberg bridge to Sydhavnen
The Carlsberg overpass or the Carlsberg bridge, as some would call it, connects The Carlsberg City District / Valby with Sydhavnen and spans over two arches crossing four train racks and the car road Vigerslev allé. The bridge is made from riveted iron and paved with oak planks. The bridge construction is 4,5 meters wide and approximately 90 meters long and can only be utilized by pedestrians and cyclists. The Carlsberg overpass was built in 1899 after the first one, built in 1847, had to be teared down due to extensions of the railway line.
a residential complex for scientific researchers
To celebrate the 200th anniversary of J.C. Jacobsen and his passion for science, The Carlsberg Foundation decided to create a contest to build 22 apartments for scientific researchers in the Carlsberg City District next to J.C. Jacobsen’s Garden. Eventually, Praksis won the competition and created the six-storey residential complex. The building is known for its oblique, yellow bricks geometrically emerging from the façade. The project was completed in 2017 and has already won several awards, including The Arne of the Year. The project is an excellent example of the already existing buildings in the district that have been thought into a modern, timeless building.