A deep dive into Henning Larsen Architects’ signature building.
They’re impossible to miss. Five, rollercoaster-like peaks, rising and dipping out of the glassy Vejle waterfront. A distinct landmark of the southeast Danish town visible from rail, road, and sea — as much a sculptural icon as it is a foundational hub for daily life.
The Wave is not your run-of-the-mill apartment building, but then again, Henning Larsen is not your run-of-the-mill architecture studio. From the ice-sharp volumes of the Hangzhou Yuhang Opera House in China to the basalt-inspired facade of Iceland’s Harpa Concert Hall, the jaw-dropping buildings that Henning Larsen Architects bring to life always make a splash — both in their design innovation and their environmental impact.
“Henning was fascinated by light and nature, space and playfulness,” Partner and Design Director Søren Øllgaard says of the late founder’s design philosophy. “This has been the main driver of our office for many years, but today we are just as focused on meeting the new challenges of the world caused by climate change.”
The Wave — in all it’s sweeping, organic glory — embodies the importance Henning Larsen places on eco-friendly design solutions: energy-optimization, a low-carbon impact, and resource-efficiency were all prioritized in the build from conception. “[This industry] is responsible for more than 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions,” Øllgaard adds. “It’s crucial that we create architecture that is empowered by a strategic knowledge and holistic approach to solving these issues.”
Partner and Design Director Søren Øllgaard sketching out The Wave.
Reflecting the local landscape
As with all Henning Larsen projects, The Wave takes inspiration from the natural world around it. Situated at the bottom of the Vejle Fjord, surrounded by rolling highlands and open sky, the building is emblematic of the area’s landscape and maritime heritage.
“The uniqueness of our site always has a big impact on the design,” explains Øllgaard. “We try to pull out the specific character of a location. For The Wave, it was this idea of something dynamic and light, as referenced by the curves of a sail, the waves on the ocean, and the hills of the countryside.”
With 14,000 square meters of space, nine floors, 100 apartment complexes, and a public walkway, The Wave also serves as a center for activity and community in Vejle. But Øllgaard is quick to reiterate that it’s more than just a building.
“The Wave is an abstraction of Vejle itself, like a signature or logotype,” he says. “It’s not only a housing configuration, but rather a distinctive way to bring our hearts closer to this idea about the place it’s in.”
Radinn riders outside of The Wave in Vejle, Denmark.
Bringing it back to the board
As for Øllgaard—a self-proclaimed water man—the Radinn electric jetboard doesn’t just fit in with his ethos towards innovative, eco-friendly design, it also fits in with his aquaphilic lifestyle. “Water means a lot to me,” he shares. “I’ve explored all kinds of surfing: kitesurfing, foil surfing, windsurfing, and wave surfing. When I first heard about the Radinn, I was curious if it would be cool. I now can confirm, it is very cool.”
After trying both the Radinn Freeride and the Radinn Carve, it’s no surprise that Øllgaard was most impressed by the elements of the board relative to his own architectural discipline. He was enthused to see how intuitive the user interface is, especially the way in which you “use the remote to gradually take up speed, and the sensation and control of the electric jet as you ride.”
Øllgaard summed up his Radinn experience in true Danish fashion by adding, “I love the way the board meets the body. The design is nice. It’s a really good product.”
Not a bad compliment, coming from one of the top architects in the world.
“On a metaphysical level, I think water is of great importance to us all. We come from water. That was our first sensation. So coming back to the water, the dynamics of water, the gentleness of water, the fluidity of water — that is something that everybody relates to.”
Partner and Design Director Søren Øllgaard in his Radinn Make Waves tshirt.