PLH Arkitekter breathes new life into Maersk's iconic headquarters in Copenhagen

Iconic and cool, the revitalization of Maersk’s Esplanaden headquarters benefits employees and visitors alike.

In close collaboration with Maersk, PLH Arkitekter has designed a comprehensive renovation of Esplanaden, Maersk’s landmark waterfront buildings from the 1970’s.

The transformation has been tailormade to create state-of-the-art workplaces in a unified campus, that supports Maersk’s global business strategies, facilitates new, flexible forms of work and puts sustainability – environmentally as well as socially – front and center.

“Together, we are unleashing the enormous potential of the amazing location and its maritime surroundings. At the same time, we are ensuring a better flow between the various facilities, thus creating a sense of unity and a work environment that enables everyone to shine, thrive and perform at their best. Every design choice has been made to grant staff and visitors diverse, stimulating and meaningful experiences throughout the day. Maersk had the vision. We developed the concept and brought it to life with the great project team,” says Paulette Christophersen, partner and interior designer, PLH Arkitekter.

Caroline Pontoppidan, Senior Vice President at Maersk, elaborates:

“The aim of the transformation has been to create a workplace that engages us, helps us team up stronger and innovate better. We want a campus that feels unified and cohesive, with a greater flow between areas and where we can provide our clients with first-rate service. A place that conveys Maersk’s values and our unique way of doing business. But just as importantly, we want an office environment that grants every employee flexibility, possibilities and freedom of choice. In our new, versatile workspace, you will have a multitude of options for structuring your day so that you can feel that you are performing at your very best.”

A place for everything

As one of the project’s defining features, the campus layout has been divided into three types of zones to accommodate different needs and support activity-based work forms:

The Welcome Zones, covering areas which include the main entrance and the new multifunctional bistro, are the first impression for all visitors and are designed to express the essence of the Maersk brand, culture and values, aiming to greet everyone with a warm, inviting sense of being welcome.

The Focus Zones are especially designed to support day-to-day work, small meetings and space for focusing. Here, employees can work in teams or individually at their desks, brainstorm with a few colleagues or submerge in tasks that require deep concentration.

The Collaboration Zones offer a diverse, inventive and informal space, where teams can come together across departments to work, exchange knowledge or simply grab a quick coffee.

The look and feel of Maersk

Throughout the transformation, PLH Arkitekter has made sure that the interior design reflects Maersk’s DNA and values. Thus, the color scheme is in line with the shipping company’s corporate visual identity. Furthermore, different colors have been carefully selected to create a variety of distinct environments, each with their own atmosphere, choice of furniture and levels of formality.

The different colors and atmospheres are enhanced by a sophisticated LED system that changes the lighting during the day and is uniquely adapted to each area.

Focus on sustainability

Sustainability has been a principal focus of the transformation and attaining environmental as well as social goals a guiding vision.

Among some of Esplanaden’s many new sustainable features are triple layer windows that improve daylight and reduce energy consumption, as well as new energy saving lighting that responds to the changing of the seasons and gives an enjoyable, pleasant light. Furthermore, nearly all of the materials and components that have been taken out of the buildings have been upcycled and recycled in other projects, just as the timber used is from sustainable sources and the carpet is made from recycled materials.

Social concerns and employee wellbeing have also been a focal point, as witnessed in an array of solutions that provide fresh air, great acoustics and healthy, diverse food. The design concept promotes an inclusive and welcoming culture, facilitates hybrid work and encourages different ways of meeting, socializing and recharging.

Strategic approach – human centered results

Every aspect of the Esplanaden transformation is based on extensive analysis and user involvement to unleash the full potential of the space, support Maersk’s business strategy and ensure optimal working conditions for employees.

Throughout the process, PLH Arkitekter’s design team has organized workshops to receive valuable input from future users and worked closely with Maersk’s HR, IT and executive leadership to develop the design strategy.

Among other things, extensive time motion studies have been carried out to identify movement patterns and thereby help optimize the usage of space.

From the very beginning of this project each step has been evaluated to learn from the experiences. This also accounts for satellite projects such as Maersk’s new, innovative office with 20 different environments at Copenhagen’s Olso Plads. This systematic evaluation has enriched the design and ensured that the main design features apply to all of Maersk's properties, thus providing an exciting yet consistent experience, regardless of where employees turn up to work.

PLH Arkitekter has also facilitated change management support such as workshops, printed and digital move in guides as well as townhall sessions to prepare a successful move in.