Kalundborg Circular Campus, Kalundborg, Denmark

Co-creating a new symbiosis

In Kalundborg, a smaller city located 100 km west of Copenhagen and characterized by its unique industrial symbiosis and large biotech industry, a new campus is being developed as part of the Copenhagen-based Det Kongelige Akademi | Royal Danish Academy. The development of the new campus is seen as an opportunity to rethink a broad range of themes of relevance to a sustainable and circular society. 

Participatory methods are used in this process, where concepts such as courage and experimentation are crucial: The task of finding a ‘home’ in the city for the education will take place after the arrival of the first architecture students and with the involvement of them. It is here explored how the new education can be integrated in Kalundborg in a meaningful way, by listening to the voices of the Kalundborg citizens and adding new value to the city while respecting the existing community.

What does it mean when a well-established institution like the Det Kongelige Akademi suddenly has to reinvent itself, while citizens and the city are involved? What does it mean for the town, and its citizens, and what can the Det Kongelige Akademi and its education and research learn from the very active business climate in the city? How can education, research, city, and business create a symbiosis that can curiously learn from each other?"

  • Stories and photos
  • The site
  • Symbiotic relations
  • Vision

Here you find stories and slide shows from Kalundborg. Below this section, you can find the background story for the site.

Film. Desire presents: "Co-designing the Architectural Education in Kalundborg"

How can we create sustainable, attractive, and inclusive urban spaces? Together with project partners and the locals, we experiment with this as part of the Desire project in Kalundborg, Denmark. In recent years, the city has witnessed growth in the biotech industry and the relocation of universities to the area. Now, the city aims to kickstart urban development by collaborating with its citizens to envision new possibilities. Have a look at the film!

How little does it take to make a public space attractive and green?

Through the Desire project, the city of Kalundborg, DK has established a citizen group that, together with architecture students and a design firm, will experiment with small, simple things in public spaces. Read the article here

Street event on the 28th - and Open House and an exhibition on the 29th of September, where the new students at the urban planning study showed their first ideas for Kalundborg. Our partners in Kalundborg, DK - Det Kongelige Akademi (Royal Danish Academy) and Knowledge Hub Zealand invited all to join. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt and Soeren Bjoern-Hansen. Click on the photos to enlarge.

Flemming Overgaard. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Flemming Overgaard. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Kalundborg Street Event 13 credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Kalundborg Street Event. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Kalundborg Street Event. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Brian Hilding Lamhauge, Skaberzonen. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Brian Hilding Lamhauge, Skaberzonen. Credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

At our partner meeting in May 2023, Pernille Bech, Project manager at our partner Knowledge Hub Zealand gave us an update. Press the icon at the bottom right of the video to expand the image and see the entire video.

The site


Kalundborg is located on the coast of Zealand 100 km west of Copenhagen - by the sea and some of the most characteristic landscapes in Denmark.

It is a city of contrasts, where the beautiful “High City” that hasn’t changed since the Middle Ages, meets the future in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry.

With its old history, Kalundborg is very interesting. The inner city can be divided into 7 areas with qualities of its own, but a weak connection between them. There are plans for connecting the areas and in collaboration with real estate investors and the industry there are plans for housing, parks and cultural activities.

Outside the city is the campus area, where the University College Absalon (professional bachelor degrees), The Process School, Helix Lab (MSc students) and Biotech City are located. The area is under development and the schools need more teaching space.

Much effort is put into creating a good environment for the students and Kalundborg holds a unique environment where the students engage in an organized community in close contact with fellow students, teachers, and representatives from the industry.

Symbiotic relations


Kalundborg holds the largest biotech industry in Scandinavia and the largest production of insulin and enzymes in the world.

Biotech City is a unique partnership where local companies, educational institutions and public organizations collaborate to support and strengthen Kalundborg’s industry, educational opportunities, and the green agenda.

In the industrial ‘Symbiosis’ more than 20 different streams of water, energy and materials are connected. For 50 years, public and private stakeholders have worked on optimizing the flow of material and waste and creating benefits for all involved. The most recent plan is to invest approx. 200 Mio. euro in a seawater cooling system. Surplus heat from cooling production can be converted into sustainable district heating for more than 40,000 households.



The Royal Danish Academy establishing a new architectural education and research environment offers a unique opportunity to rethink a broad range of themes of profound relevance to sustainable and circular society.

In the city of Kalundborg, the partners will use participatory methods in a regenerative process from June - September 2023 in order to figure out which of the design principles is meaningful to work with in relation to the arrival of The Royal Danish Academy.

A few locations for the school are in the pipeline and, where possible, Desire will test the sites by setting up temporary classes in empty rooms and allowing students to work here as part of their education. In the process, they will examine which solutions are most sustainable based on parameters such as study environment, urban development, economy, resources, accessibility and energy consumption towards creating new potential in Kalundborg.

Culture of participation, courage, and experimentation

Though conversations or experiments designed to explore Kalundborg as a whole rather than parts, we create a sense of wholeness, togetherness and caring across the community and between all stakeholders.

A sense of belonging

We explore a sense of belonging by finding physical and social places of emotions and use them for wider exploration and development in Kalundborg.

We explore the expressions of positive human emotions in irresistibility and belonging through the mediums of art, architecture, conversation, and storytelling.

Circularity as a mindset

We seek to identify what to do, to create ongoing potential for life, vitality, and viability of the whole of Kalundborg and its surroundings.

We explore how we can create mutually beneficial relationships human to human and between humans and other living beings.

Systemic change

We explore how we can draw on the learnings from Kalundborg Symbiosis to optimize the use of material flows when students learn how to design and rethink cities and landscapes.

We investigate how Desire can contribute to the development of an education, that gives architects knowledge on how to create irresistible and circular cities and landscapes.

Within the tradition of architecture, we will investigate how emotions can be expressed in architectural work and design.

We investigate how the arrival of The Royal Danish Academy can create nodes and centres of energy towards new potential in Kalundborg.