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.
A passive house for active urban children
The old nursing home has been converted into a nursery, a nursery school and an after-school centre. The building has been upgraded to a passive house with high insulation values, low-energy glass, constructions for passive solar heat absorption and high-efficiency ventilation installations. This translates into an energy consumption that is about 75% lower than in a standard building. The converted building also has a huge roof garden for the users of the facility.
Project name: Renovation of Gyldenrisparken
Category:Culture & Institutions, Housing, Planning, Renovation, Wood
Client: The not for profit organization Lejerbo
Gross area: Renovation of non-profit housing and new nursery and nursery home 37.300 m²New: Nursery house and nursery home 10.000 m²
Date: 2006 - 2014
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Architect: Vandkunsten Architects and Witraz
Landscape: Algren & Bruun