Ålandsgade Courtyard block
Status: Idea 2009
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
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Traditional Copenhagen apartment buildings consist of a stairway that reaches only two apartments on each level. Often, this building is repeated to create a courtyard in the middle, but with no connection between ciruclation systems. This scheme seeks to maintain the typically cold relationship to the street and the more warm relationship to the courtyard, but to add an additional level of social interaction by adding program to the stairways.
There are spaces at each level of the stairs with different purposes. These purposes require different areas, so the shape of each circulation path is slightly different. It is the intention that the different programs in different stairways would encourage residents to use more than just their own, promoting meetings between people that may never actually interact in a traditional housing situation in Copenhagen.
Each apartment is supposed to be big enough for one family. The consequences of the variable circulation volume are apparent in the unique geometry of each apartment, and certain rules were established to provide for a quality and flexible living environment in each unit. Each apartment has light from two sides. They each have a private balcony facing south. All the apartments are also large enough to accomodate at least 2 bedrooms.
It is practical to stack all the plumbing in a building, so a standard system of kitchen and bathroom units was established where it would be possible to pair and stack the plumbing, despite the changing layout at each level. Once those rules are followed, there exists a lot of flexibilty to add walls or create different spaces using modular wall construction.
Materials and Context
This building is already responding to the existing typology of Copenhagen courtyard apartment buildings, so it was important that the street presence also respond to the context. The changing circulation is expressed on the facades of the building, but the entire structure is wrapped in a multi-purpose , steel mesh that responds to the grids and colors of surrounding buildings.
The surface beneath the mesh is a concrete that also mimics the colors and weight of the context. Where there are the cuts in the building, balconies or open spaces in the circulation, people are in more direct contact with the walls, and the surfaces are a more tactile plywood.
There have been a number of small movie theaters throughout the island of Amager, on the edge of Copenhagen, however almost all of them have since closed. Now, the majority of the movie theaters in the city are concentrated around the city hall square. The competition brief suggested that a retail/community funtion be integrated at the street level of the building.
Our proposal includes a small community theater, capable of both playing new films and hosting community events such as lectures, parties, performances, or dances. This function would add a significant attraction along Holmbladsgade, which is an developing district, and serves as a counterpoint to the ‘Music Square’ which is being established only blocks away on a similar street.
Holmbladsgade is one of the largest streets on Amager running West-East. It connects Amagerbrogade, the main spine-street of the island, all the way to the new Amager beach to the east. Along with some of the other streets along Amagerbrogade, it was conceived as a sort of exhaust pipe for the neighborhood.
The pollution that comes from the heavy traffic along Amagerbrogade is sucked out by the powerful winds generated over the sea. Because of this, the building’s mesh skin is used as an interface to grow vines, hang flowerboxes, and is coated to soak up and decontaminate some of the air that flows out towards the sea.