3XN unveils a climate–positive new hotel wing for the Danish island of Bornholm

Walking The Talk

3XN unveils a climate–positive new hotel wing for the Danish island of Bornholm

Featuring 24 guest rooms, an all-timber wing at Hotel GSH on the Danish Island of Bornholm will go well beyond carbon neutrality when completed next year. (Courtesy 3XN, GXN)

Copenhagen-based architecture studio 3XN and its sustainability-minded research and innovation arm, GXN, have unveiled an all-wood wing planned for Hotel GSH (Green Solution House), a four-star vacation property with a minuscule environmental footprint on the Danish island of Bornholm. Completed in 2015, Hotel GSH—the self-described “world’s most pioneering green hotel and conference center”—was also designed by 3XN and GXN. Built, clad, and insulated with timber, the new “climate positive” wing will add 24 additional guest rooms to the 35-room compound and an additional conference room and rooftop spa. The addition, poised to become the first climate-positive commercial building in Denmark, is scheduled to be finished in time for the busy summer 2021 travel season.

“We are excited about the prospect of setting new standards for Danish commercial construction with this new climate-positive building, where the load-bearing structure will be made from wood. Everyone talks about it—we build it,” said Trine Richter, director of Hotel GSH, in a press release.

Relatedly, work on another superlative wood-based project designed by 3XN, the 10-story T3 mass-timber tower in Toronto, kicked off this past July. It’s slated to be North America’s tallest wood-frame office building when completed.

illustration of an all-wood hotel nestled behind trees
Hotel GSH is located in a tranquil wooded area near the Baltic coast on the outskirts of Rønne, the largest town on Bornholm. (Courtesy 3XN, GXN)

While wood—and lots of it—will be the star attraction at Hotel GSH’s newest building, non-timber elements including temperature-regulating waste granite sourced from a local quarry along with other construction materials that have been upcycled in lieu of trashed will also be incorporated into the guest rooms, conference facility, and public areas. Operable skylight windows and other design solutions that allow for natural ventilation throughout the structure will help to render mechanical energy-intensive HVAC systems obsolete. True to the concept of circular sustainability that drives the design of the entire Hotel GSH complex, the new wing, right down to its reversible joints, is wholly designed for reuse so that, when the time comes, it will never face the ultimate fate of becoming demolition waste.

“The idea is simple—we believe that climate positive architecture combines good design and good business,” said Kaspar Guldager Jense, partner at 3XN and founder of GXN, in a statement. “Today destination tourism has got multiple dimensions. Hotel GSH will provide a blueprint for a climate positive future and this experience is a destination worth traveling for, which ultimately makes it a good business for our client.”

The new net carbon-negative wing at Hotel GSH will feature a rooftop spa. The hotel is popular with both holiday-makers and convention-goers alike. (Courtesy 3XN, GXN)Accessing Bornholm, a remote and predominately rural 227-square-mile island located in the middle of the Baltic Sea east of Denmark and directly south of Sweden, requires either a flight or ferry or catamaran services from points in Denmark, Sweden, Poland, or Germany. That being said, the trek to the island can be carbon-intensive when forgoing the purchase of offsets. Yet Hotel GSH, located near the waterfront in the town of Rønne in the southwestern part of the island, enables guests to experience Bornholm–from a lodging and conference-attending perspective, at least—in a manner that leaves behind a negligible environmental footprint. The 75-part “green solutions” scheme deployed at the hotel, which was built according to Cradle-to-Cradle and Active House principles while meeting stringent German Sustainable Building Council standards, leaves no proverbial stone unturned.

“In addition to creating the foundation for a successful business, I hope that the new project can help to show others the potential of wood construction,” added Jensen. “If we in Denmark want to be able to achieve our climate goals, the construction industry needs to think and act differently, and there is therefore a great need for lighthouse projects like this.”

Home to a hotel and conference facility that serves as an exercise in sustainable design at its most holistic, it seems only fitting Bornholm itself has garnered international headlines for embracing a more sustainable future as part of its Bright Green Island strategy, which among other things, involves achieving carbon-neutrality by 2025 and an aggressive island-wide zero-waste scheme. Early this year, Bornholm also won the top spot in the EU’s RESponsible Island Prize competition.