Renovation of Gyldenrisparken
2006 - 2014

Re­spect for im­per­fec­tion

From trouble spot to sought-after area

Gyldenrisparken on the island of Amager in Copenhagen is a development of housing blocks built during the mid 1960s, which contain both non-profit housing and a nursing home. Around the turn of the millennium, the tall concrete blocks had become so worn down that demolition was considered. Instead, decision-makers opted for extensive renovation, based on a plan developed by the housing association Lejerbo, the City of Copenhagen and the residents of Gyldenrisparken.

As part of a large consortium, Vandkunsten won the overall commission for the renovation. With respect for the existing architecture we designed a solution that condenses and refines the different scales of the development.

The new-built nursing home in the large atrium space gives rise to new recreational spaces and playgrounds. We also found room to include both a nursery school and an after-school centre. Among other new features, we added new facade dormers and larger, more useful balconies to the housing blocks. The renovation has been well received. Since the project was initiated, the waiting time for a flat in Gyldenrisparken has gone up from 4–6 months to 20 years.

In love with what is there

‘It’s easy to express contempt for what many could characterize as failed architecture – and to transform rather than refine the existing structures. We like to take a different path. We believe that architects should first fall in love with what is there. Only then can you create the changes that improve the larger whole.’

– Jan Albrechtsen, Arkitekt maa, partner

Social sustainability and safer streets

The facades of the housing blocks are clearly improved, but the main expression is preserved. Floor-to-ceiling windows enhance both the influx of daylight and the quality of life. Larger balconies invite people to spend more time here, thus bringing indoor and outdoor life closer together. The new dormers also provide a better view of the outdoors, which improves the sense of security in the outdoor spaces. Windows in the large gables similarly add extra ‘eyes’ on a space that was previously perceived as unsafe.

Condensed and low to the ground

Like a high-rise stretched out and resting on the ground, the new nursing home snakes through the large atrium space, creating additional smaller spaces that are better suited for recreational uses. The green roof adds new structure and offers a pleasant view for the surrounding homes.


The building complex was dark and tenants felt uncomfortable. Apartments were dark with high concrete balustrades that screen off the small balconies.

Challenging the general principle of equality

Not all flats at the ends of the buildings have a window in the gable. Similarly, the dormers are not all placed in the same position. A deliberate move to challenge the traditional principle of equality and ‘one size fits all’ in order to break up the monotony and uniformity of concrete architecture.

The all-important gaps

A sense of being hyper-exposed previously kept many residents from spending time in the large spaces between the blocks. Therefore, the renovation introduced more but smaller spaces and zones within these gaps to create a more intimate feel.

New demographic make-up

As part of the renovation, several small flats were combined into larger family homes. The flats attract a new type of tenants, which is changing the demographic make-up of Gyldenrisparken, making it more diverse, also in terms of income levels and education.

The new daycare

Details of the new facade

Project facts


Project name: Renovation of Gyldenrisparken

Category:Culture & Institutions, Housing, Planning, Renovation, Wood

Client: The not for profit organization Lejerbo

Location: Copenhagen

Gross area: Renovation of non-profit housing and new nursery and nursery home 37.300 m²New: Nursery house and nursery home 10.000

Date: 2006 - 2014

Status: Finished

Number of units: 468 apartments

Cost of construction: 750 mio DKK


Program: Not for profit apartments, nursery homes, elderly nursing homes

Activity: Renovation, renovation, new built, user process

Job type: 1. prize in competition

Construction system: Concrete in existing apartmens. Massiv timber structures in new built.

Contact: Jan Albrechtsen,

Project group: Kim Dalgaard, Gilles Charrier, Camilla Stilling, Troels Trier Mørk, Sigurd Vinde Akselsen, Jan Albrechtsen


Architect: Vandkunsten Architects and Witraz

Landscape: Algren & Bruun

Engineer: Wissenberg