Cirkelbroen: Masterfully designed bridge connects Copenhagen




Lars Tørrild Thorbek

Lars T. Thorbek

Global Spearhead Director, Major Crossings
T: +45 5161 6713

Designed by award-winning artist Olafur Eliasson, Cirkelbroen enables walkers and cyclists to cross Christianshavns Kanal in stylish fashion. The bridge smoothly swings open to allow large vessels to pass.

Copenhagen has a new landmark. Bridging Christianshavns Kanal in inner-city Copenhagen, the stunning Cirkelbroen provides safe, dry-shod passage between Christiansbro and Applebys Plads.

Artistic and expressive design

Cirkelbroen is a gift from Nordea-fonden to the City of Copenhagen. For many years, the City of Copenhagen had a wish to create an entire boardwalk along the inner harbour. The southern mouth of Christianshavns Kanal formed the missing link.

Designed by internationally acclaimed Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, the foot-bridge is comprised of five circular platforms. When the design was announced, Eliasson shared his vision for the bridge:

- Rather than offering the fastest possible passage across the canal, the bridge creates small changes in the way we experience the city and opens for renegotiation of the public space. To pause on your way is a bodily reflection – and I view such reflections as an essential part of Copenhagen’s urban space, says Olafur Eliasson.

Making the vision come true

As technical adviser, Ramboll was tasked with transforming the vision and design of the artist into functional reality.

- Realising the technical and functional design of Cirkelbroen was both inspiring and highly challenging. It was crucial to maintain all visual aspects of the artist’s vision while making sure the functionality is well-designed and durable, says Lars Tørrild Thorbek, Head of Department, International Bridges in Ramboll.

- For instance, the salinity of the water affects the buoyancy of the bridge. And since the bridge is floating when it opens, we needed to take this factor into account and make some underwater design changes to the bridge. Additionally, we chose a swing mechanism that allows the bridge to smoothly swing open for passing vessels. Our design solutions are mechanically sound, robust and easy to maintain– and visually true to Olafur Eliasson’s stunning design, Lars Tørrild Thorbek adds.

Natural crossing for thousands

Cirkelbroen is 40 metres long with a clearance height of 2.25 metres when closed, allowing Canal tour boats and other low vessels to pass under the closed bridge. When it opens, there are no height limitations. An estimated 5,000 cyclists and pedestrians use the bridge every day.

- We are proud of being able to transform Olafur Eliasson’s design and vision into a durable design. Cirkelbroen is breathtaking. It is a work of art both from a functional and a visual perspective, and it is a landmark for the pedestrians and cyclists of Copenhagen, Lars Tørrild Thorbek concludes.

Time lapse video from Nordea-fonden: the five platforms on Cirkelbroen were installed in March 2015.


Interview with Lars Tørrild Thorbek (in Danish).


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