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.
First step: Room for community
Modern living in Diakonissestiftelsen
The area of the Diakonisestiftelsen at Frederiksberg had the character of an area for institutions and wished to transform into a more diverse living environment built on a common cultural and religious fundament. Vandkunsten was one of two winners of a parallel competition to reactivate the classical buildings on the plot accompanied by new, modern housing. The result was a vision plan of 2020, and the role as technical consultant for the foundation. Together with DEM & Esbensen engineers (consultancy) and Marianne Levinsen landskab, Vandkunsten was responsible for the construction of the first half of a total of 100 units for senior housing in the plan. The targeted segment is above 55 years and are offered a strong, local community – played out in shared facilities such as a mixed-use hall, cafées, apple groves and laundries.
Living together in modern co-housing
A start-up approached Vandkunsten Architects with a vision to create a series of modern co-housing villages with plenty of shared facilities, and community feeling. Vandkunsten has developed a comprehensive building system and a series of site-specific master plans for the client. The cohousing concept offers endless variations on a theme and the different spatial-unit designs are used as an architectural tool for providing variation in the village and flexibility for its inhabitants. The formal design creates a separate identity and adds new spatial qualities to the houses. The buildings themselves and life within them promote a special concept for the community. Eco-Villages are currently under development in Lejre, Albertslund and Ørestad. The Eco-Village concept consists of small, compact living units with small front gardens – put together as row houses on a shared lot. The architectural concept is realized through the usage of affordable box modules A generous influx of light is ensured by the building depth of no more than 7.5 metres. Extra rooms can be added to this basic module and be combined to form a variety of layouts to satisfy different needs: from the tiny micro-unit – intended as student digs, single-parent homes, or senior residences – to the largest unit of 125m2, with enough space for several play rooms and nurseries. 12% of the built floor space is shared, in the form of a large community house and several smaller facilities distributed across the development. These can be used as music rooms and workshops, teenage dens and tool sheds
Local community built in wood
Built in wood, the 100 units in Fjordparken were part of the experimental Casa Nova Consortium to develop processes and prefabrication for wood-based construction. With offset units, they all have corner qualities and great views to the fjord. The project has gallery access held by solid wood and shielded by a large roof overhang. The project was built by in 2002 for a non-profit and a private cohousing client, Himmerland Boligforening and Andelsforeningen Marina Fjordparken. The latter was formed for the occasion has proven its community strength over time as it was named best cohousing 2019 by the Danish cohousing associtation.
Communal living under one big roof
A private group of owners commissioned Vandkunsten to build a coop with maximized level of community. We added many of the original ideas about community and democracy from our manifest-like Project 35 (1970), but on a much smaller and more manageable scale. It was built in close dialogue with the residents on a plot in Ringsted. Previously home to a sawmill (Jystrup Savværk), it became the site for experimental residential solutions and energy efficiency. The coop housing development Jystrup Sawmill (Jystrup Savværk) feels like one big house with 21 private residential units, a ‘single organism’ with 40% communal space, where private and communal areas can shrink and grow as needed.
Building groups influence their future homes
At a plot in the new development of Køge Kyst a housing project shaped by the future inhabitants is taking shape. This way of building originates in Germany, so-called ‘baugruppen’, and is an attractive building model as the inhabitants are given influence over the physical frames they are going to move into, both their private dwellings and shared spaces. In addition to this, the costs of the developer are saved. Building groups are a great supplement to the Danish housing market, contributing to a more diverse offer. The process of developing these projects consists of several phases, including the establishing of an association by the inhabitants. Within the association the framework for the building and design process are provided. It is also the association that hires a contractor for the construction of the building. To prepare the ground for these projects to happen, Vandkunsten together with the fund Selskabet for Billige Boliger and Køge Kyst Development Company established a partnership.
The successful experiment
From its setting on open land in the town of Herfølge, Tinggaarden has served as the model for low-rise, high-density residential architecture in Denmark since it was built in 1978. Tinggården tells the story of a highly successful non-profit housing experiment that used architecture as a vehicle for reinstating the residents’ democracy in the local community. In 1971, the Danish Building Research Institute, SBI, held a competition on alternative housing forms. The competition offered an obvious opportunity for demonstrating our ideal of flexible architecture at eye level as a radical contrast to the technocratic high-rise developments that were being built at the time and what we saw as the wasteland of suburban single-family-house developments. We won the competition with a proposal that put the emphasis on community and sought to give the residents real influence. Both with regard to the architectural design and with regard to people’s ability to shape their lives and homes. The competition paved the way for the housing experiment Tinggården and also led to the establishment of Vandkunsten Architects. Tinggaarden was completed in 1978. The original development consisted of 78 homes placed into six family clusters, each with a communal building to be used for shared meals and other activities. In addition, a large communal hall was constructed for all the residents of Tinggaarden. Tinggaarden was expanded in a second phase in 1983–84, which doubled the number of homes in the development.