A new block of flats on the edge of Copenhagen, designed by Bjarke Ingels and Julien De Smedt of PLOT, was toured, analyzed, and photographically documented in last month's issue of Metropolis. The article is by Tom Vanderbilt, a writer whose career I find well worth following. (Here's his book).
The article will tell you a lot more about the project than this brief and hurried post will – but, basically, the building is like a huge game of architectural Tetris, with a bewildering variety of interlinked floorplans. Specifically, there are "76 floor plans in 221 units," Vanderbilt writes, "with none repeated more than a dozen times and well over a dozen of them unique." Further, he says, "flipping through the sales booklet, which has pages of unit plans, is like reading the assembly blueprints for some massive urban machine with interlocking component parts."
So what does it look like? First, here are some 3D shape-diagrams for the "V block" of the building; they almost look like proteins – enzymes of European domesticity.
Below is the "M block."
As Vanderbilt explains, the "V" and the "M" building shapes only entered into the design process after the architects "experimented with any number of permutations, the totality of which – collected on a display board – looks like some strange alphabet. They eventually settled on fashioning the south-facing block into a V and the north-facing block into an M. 'By bending the shapes,' Ingels says, 'you open up the maximum toward the two canals, which ensures that the apartments, instead of just looking at one another, all have orientation toward the landscape.' It also ensures that both evening and morning sun can enter the courtyard. The move shatters what would be a dense rectilinearity into a kind of crystalline parallax-view refraction of light and circulation."
The whole complex was also finished with very tastefully bold, solid neo-Modernist colors. These eye-popping central corridors will, at the very least, wake you up every morning as you stumble out the door for work.
Finally, a note to property developers: "all 221 units sold out in three weeks, 80 percent on the first day."
Good design pays.
Read more in Metropolis.