Homes in the old torpedo boat workshop
Holmen in Copenhagen
2001 - 2003

New homes in the old tor­pedo boat work­shop

Urban homes in the giant industrial hall

The MTB hall was built in 1954 as a place for repairing and maintaining boats for the Danish Navy, especially motor torpedo boats. The architecture reflects the prevailing enthusiasm at the time for large structures in reinforced concrete and steel with a main space of 32 x 160 x 15 metres.

When the Danish Navy abandoned Holmen, an islet in Copenhagen Harbour,  in the 1990s, the area was selected for urban development. The building tycoon Kurt Thorsen saw the potential for converting the huge empty concrete structure into a residential complex and approached Vandkunsten Architects. We preserved the rough construction elements and designed homes around a large street that is open to the sky, close to the city and directly on the waterfront.

Order and disorder

Several architectural effects serve to underscore the contrasts of the building. Setting the facade of the new building back highlights the crucial meeting between the scarred old concrete columns, the trusses and the roof. The changes impart new meaning to the columns than they had in the old torpedo boat hall with its completely flat exterior, which made a secret of the construction.

The inner facade with balconies and footbridges

A canal street starts level with the water surface of the embankment lake and continues through the building. The homes are placed on both sides of this street, which is traversed by footbridges.

160 meters of housing hall

A public passageway cuts through the building, crossing the interior public street space.

Vibrant urban street

Inside the hall, the old concrete and steel construction has been preserved. The homes are placed inside the structure, which is framed by the exposed roof trusses, no longer covered by a roof.  In constructive terms, the homes are self-supporting and made of concrete elements.

Private parking for the 67 flats is located at the base of the structure, away from the water. Terraced houses are placed on the second floor, while a common street links the terraces here with the canals that are part of the nearby fortifications.

Industrielt gaderum

All the homes are accessed from the central ’street’, which all the residents relate to and share – like a classic city street. Only, in this case, one end of the street is raised up to the second floor – above the car park – and the other end one finds a canal – a gift from the old hall to the new residents. The public path along the Copenhagen Harbour runs through the hall, turning the building and its street space into a part of the city..

The flats vary in size from 75 to 275 square metres. They all have large glazed sections and thus a high influx of daylight and expansive views. Each unit has a large living room that also contains the kitchen. The interior is characterized by light surfaces and a bright, airy atmosphere..

Project facts


Project name: Homes in the old torpedo boat workshop


Client: NCC construction A/S og 2L Development A/S

Location: Holmen in Copenhagen

Gross area: 9.200

Date: 2001 - 2003

Status: Finished

Number of units: 67 apartments between 75 and 275 m2

Cost of construction: -


Program: Housing

Activity: New built, landscape

Job type: Comission

Construction system: Concrete

Contact: Jan Albrechtsen,

Project group: Thomas Nybo Rasmussen, Jan Albrechtsen


Architect: Vandkunsten

Landscape: Vandkunsten

Engineer: Niras

Contractor: MT Højgaard

Consultant: -