If you were asked to picture an intimate luxury retreat, the first thing to come to mind probably wouldn’t be an industrial port, or a container crane for that matter. Ingeniously, this is exactly what visionary Danish developer Klaus Kastbjerg has managed to achieve with THE KRANE, an exclusive one-room hotel, private spa and meeting room set inside a repurposed coal crane in Nordhavn, Copenhagen’s historic industrial harbour which is being transformed into a modern residential and business district. Designed by Mads Møller of Copenhagen-based architectural studio Arcgency, the project not only pays homage to the structure’s industrial past and showcases the best of what contemporary Danish design has to offer, but also redefines the concept of luxury as a multi-sensory experience of less-is-more-than-it-looks.
Kastbjerg is no stranger to Copenhagen’s waterfront having also been involved in many projects over the last few decades including several in Nordhavn, such as THE SILO, a 17-storey grain silo turned into luxury apartments, and HARBOR HOUSE, a commercial development designed by iconic architect Jørn Utzon, think Sydney Opera House, and his two sons Jan and Kim. In search for a meeting room during the construction of HARBOR HOUSE in 2005, the team used one of two industrial cranes that were on site. They were so pleased with its unique beauty that it became part of the development that opened its doors in 2010. Meanwhile, the second crane further down the pier remained unused; up to now that is.
Perched at the top of the structure is the KRANE ROOM, a 50 square metre private retreat for two, blessed with panoramic views of the harbour and the Øresund strait beyond. Designed as an abode of understated luxury, the one room space is rendered in total black as a homage to its past as a crane for loading coal. But the all black colour scheme also serves other purposes; it creates a soothing ambience and makes the views stand out. As Kastbjerg explains, “the black interior combined with the crispy white bed sheets makes everything quiet. You can feel calm, at peace. Enjoying the view as art.” In fact, visitors’ first impression of entering into the monochromatic space is soon upended, depending on the time of day and quality of daylight and sunlight, where hundreds of different shades of black unfold before their eyes.
What the suite’s interiors lack in colour they more than make up in textures: leather, wood, stone and steel make up a setting of refined luxuriance, underpinned by a design of radical minimalism. All extraneous elements in the room have been effaced or hidden allowing the expansive views of the harbour and sea to take centre stage. Beds, seating and cupboards, all bespoke pieces made by Danish artisans, are integrated into wall panels while the kitchenette, shower and bathroom are hidden inside a seamless black box, bestowing a sense of wonderment. This sense is further enhanced by a separate viewing room, once the crane's cockpit, which is reached via an exterior walkway where guests can languorously enjoy vertiginous views on a leather-upholstered buttoned daybed.
For the spa on the second floor, Møller eschewed the all-black aesthetic of the guestroom above for a lighter palette of grey stone but has again designed the space around the harbour views. Featuring a floor-to-ceiling glass façade, visitors can relax in the two freestanding bathtubs or in the glass-enclosed sauna or shower while enjoying panoramic vistas that blur the distinction between indoors and outdoors. As Kastbjerg explains, “with the winter weather in Denmark, we couldn’t really have a spa outside. But who wants to sit inside and miss the nature?”
A similar sentiment seems to have inspired the design for the meeting room on the first floor. Fittingly called the GLASS BOX, the space enjoys magnificent views that can kick start your imagination even during the most tedious business meeting. Combined with timbre floors and an acoustic ceiling, the space is "the furthest thing from cold or corporate” as Møller points out.
Lest you think that THE KRANE’s luxury credentials are confined to an immaculate design aesthetic, bespoke, hand-crafted furniture and views to die for, please note that guests also enjoy a complimentary luxury electric car and two bicycles to explore the city as well as a designated concierge who picks them up at the airport, familiarizes them with the venue’s amenities and brings them breakfast every morning. Is there a more glorious experience than being served breakfast on the top of the world? We don't think so.