At Vandkunsten Architects we design architecture for people. Our houses are designed for the ways that people live, work, play, and think. Housing, buildings, and cities must be at eye level and make room for communities.
We believe that quality is sustainable
Circular and made for makers
Repurposed shipping containers house creative activities and meeting places at the Makers’ Corner in the new sustainable district Musicon. Three groups share the facilities – a local maker community, a youth maker space, and a city-run meeting place and activity for mentally vulnerable citizens of all ages. Vandkunsten has applied repurposing materials, and involved users to meet the tight budget with high ambitions. Back in 2016 the city received a donation from the A. P. Møllerske Støttefond, and Vandkunsten was comissioned as architects based on our experience with repurposing discarded shipping containers. After intense user involvement and in close collaboration with the contractor, the project was finished in 2017. From the outside Hal7 still looks like an old industrial hall, preserved in the urban development. Inside, one meets 900sqm of repurposed shipping containers, an old sports gym flooring, and four different comfort zones. The project features a radical amount of reuse. On top of transforming 20 discarded containers, the existing loadbearing exterior skin, foundations, concrete flooring, and 9 existing container modules have been reused. On top, matured materials consist most doors, windows and flooring. This means that at least 90 % of the materials used are repurposed. All details have been designed for disassembly, which allows the users to rearrange their Makers’ Corner if needs change over time.
The Atrium Houses in Albertslund South belong to the generation of large-scale, low-rise, high-density developments that shot up in Danish suburbs in the 1960s. An industrialized and uniform development in a technical quality that, unfortunately, has called for improvement through numerous renovations over the years. As part of a project competition, Vandkunsten paved the way for a new renovation practice by bringing both sustainability and autonomy to the Atrium Houses. Vandkunsten’s winning proposal aimed for ‘preservation through transformation’. The approach revolves primarily around modifying the landscaping and urban spaces to allow for new kinds of activities. The project deliverable contains a large assembly of options and leaves it up to the housing association and the tenants to pick and choose and coordinate solutions. The renovation of the more than 1,000 homes will be ongoing until 2022.
Reused Construction Materials
Material waste is the ‘dark side’ of renovation in construction and discarded materials and components potentially represent a triple capital related to economy, energy, and culture. The project explores, by devising and con-structing 20 full-scale prototypes, new practices for high-level reuse of dismantled building components and materials at all product stages from sourcing to disassembly. >> Download the report (2017)
On the Danish island of Læsø there is an old building tradition of using seaweed or more precisely eelgrass for roofing their houses. Seaweed roofs last for centuries. In 2010 the Realdania Byg Foundation bought the 150 year-old listed seeweed house “Kaline’s House” and did a gentle restoration. Nearby was a modern summer residence design by architect Hanne Kjærholm. Realdania Byg Foundation bought the natural plot between the old and the new house. In 2012 Vandkunsten won the competition to design a small summer house that interprets the old traditional seaweed house, while also fitting the natural site with a contemporary vacation home. The Modern Seaweed House became an experimental build. The solutions of the house gives a new suggestion to the use of seaweed as a renewed and modern construction material, that also respects the old local traditions of Læsø.
Street sport all year round
In Denmark there is a big need for sports facilities to encompass other activities than the traditionally popular sports such as European Handball and badminton. At the same time, the local municipalities do not have the economy to build nor maintain the traditional facilities. Therefor the foundation for sports and local culture Lokale- og Anlægsfonden (LoA) invited Vandkunsten and two other architecture firms to develop the second generation of an economical alternative to the conventional indoors sports gymnasiums. The Lightweight Gymnasium (Let hal) has its name from its equipment; the concept is stripped from normal demands such as insulation and installations. Along with other restraints this saves up to 80 % of the conventional price of construction. The first of Vandkunsten Architects’ Lightweight Gyms have been built by the city of Gentofte to accommodate street sport acitivities such as skaters and BMX bikers.
Sustainable heritage renovation
The Margretheholm islet in Copenhagen housed the Danish Navy for centuries. The constable school building from 1939 had been abandoned for decades and was technically in a bad shape. In 2014, the entire islet was transformed into a new neighborhood that we designed for the developer group Sjælsø. With a relatively small budget, we were commisioned to also transform the listed building to accomodate affordable apartments for students. Our approach was to maintain as much of the original and worn character of the building and emphasize the contrast between new and old. The project won the Renovate Prize (RENOVERprisen) 2016 for best renovation.