Scandinavian design

Arne Jacobsen’s Copenhagen: Take a design-led tour of the city

By Olivia Ekelund

Photo: Heilke Heller via Getty Images.

The work of the iconic Danish designer can be spotted in and around the Danish capital – from Bellevue beach to Skovshoved petrol station

You might not know that Scandinavia’s Mecca of design, Copenhagen, has the creative mind of one man woven into its fabric: Arne Jacobsen. Recognised most foremost for his interior designs such as The Swan and The Ant, he also filled the capital city of Denmark with his architectural work, leaving an indelible mark on the surroundings of its citizens.


Recognised for blending his interpretations of nature into functional design, Jacobsen gained worldwide acclaim. But it's back in his home city where some of his most striking structural designs can be seen. Below, we guide you through some of the iconic Jacobsen works that make up the look of Copenhagen.



We begin in the city centre, with one of the capital’s core buildings. Vital to both Denmark’s state and its residents, the immense waterfront structure of the Nationalbanken is Jacobsen through and through. The main entrance which faces Havnegade meets visitors with floor to ceiling marble walls. Nestled in the imposing stone is an enclave that gives room to the lighter wood-walled main desk. Notes of Jacobsen’s design are all around, from the door handles to the lamps and clocks. And facing the main entrance is the famous suspended glass staircase, an iconic artwork in itself.

Langelinie Allé 47, 2100 København Ø


Novo Nordisk

Commissioned to design the premises of Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk, Jacobsen created an architectural triumph. Erected in 1934, it was the birthplace of his renowned chair The Ant. Initially produced for Novo Nordisk's canteen, it can now be found in homes around the world.

Hillerødgade 72, 2200 Frederiksberg


The Radisson Hotel

The five-star Radisson Collection Hotel in Copenhagen is a well known Jacobsen piece, showcasing his architectural abilities as well as holding space for his functional interior designs. Sitting just opposite the Tivoli, it’s a short hop away from the city centre.

The rooms to see are 606 and 506. Room 606 is still completely unchanged since being conceived in 1960. Today, it acts as a design shrine, exhibiting his most esteemed pieces including The Swan, which was originally made by Jacobsen for the hotel’s lobby. Room 506 was later redesigned by Jaime Hayon as a tribute to Jacobsen and their kindred architectural styles.

Hammerichsgade 1, 1611 København


Arne Jacobsen gallery at Designmuseum Denmark

At the Design museum you can find the work of many Danish designers who have shaped the country’s identity and artistry. And naturally, there's a whole area dedicated to Jacobsen. Here you can peruse all of his groundbreaking designs, with the extensive collection featuring some of his best-known items such as The Egg, The Swan, The Ant and Series 7.

Bredgade 68, 1260 København


Bellevue Beach

Klampenborg, just a short trip outside of Copenhagen, is where Jacobsen both lived and gained widespread recognition as an architect.

After winning a design competition, Jacobsen was tasked with designing the Bellevue Beach Resort. One of the most popular beaches around Copenhagen, it draws 500,000 visitors every year. His imprint can be found everywhere, from the famous lifeguard towers to the staff uniforms and even the tickets.

Strandvejen 340, 2930 Klampenborg


The Skovshoved Petrol Station

Denmark’s only protected petrol station, this construction is truly the only one of its kind. Still in operation, it has remained largely untouched save for restoration purposes since its unveiling in 1938. The iconic "Mushroom" stands as a dome over the station, while the building’s exterior is covered with Meissner tiles. Entirely in white, the structure exudes a spirit of cleansed style.

Kystvejen 24, 2920 Charlottenlund


The Bellevue Theatre

The Bellevue Theatre is an architectural adventure, filled with quirky details from Arne Jacobsen’s imagination. To give theatre-goers the experience of staying connected to their environment, the roof can be retracted to reveal blue skies and smells from the ocean and surrounding greenery. A fundamental piece of his portfolio, its not to be missed.

Strandvejen 451, 2930 Klampenborg


The Bella Vista Housing Estate

Also located in Klampenborg, the Bella Vista Housing Estate is a series of white-washed buildings with unique Modernist curves, level roofs and lattice-embraced balconies. It is said to be the most definitive example of Bauhaus architecture in Denmark. Together with the Søholm complex, these houses established Jacobsen’s international reputation.

Around the corner, you can find Jacobsen’s own house where he lived until his death in 1971. A part of Søholm, it is still used as a private residence. Between tenants, the house is opened to the public, allowing fans to get a glimpse of the life of the celebrated architect that to this day has so much influence over his country’s artistic identity.

Strandvejen, 2930 Klampenborg