BIG’s prefab modular residence in Copenhagen is a template for affordable living

BIG’s prefab modular residence in Copenhagen is a template for affordable living

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has designed an apartment block in Copehagen for Lejerbo, a nonprofit social housing association that rents accommodation to lower-income residents. The prefab, modular design, covered with timber planking opens up small balconies and floor-to-ceiling windows for all, creating a new model for affordable housing that promotes wellbeing.

Named ‘Dortheavej’ after its address in the north western area of Copenhagen – an area of car repair shops, storage units and 1930-50s industrial buildings – the five storey residence features 66 apartments ranging from 60 to 115 sq m in size.

BIG interior in Copenhagen housing project

The interior of an apartment at Dortheavej. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshoj

Founded by Danish urban space designer Jan Gehl, Lejerbo’s mission is to bring ‘homes for all’. BIG’s relationship with Lejerbo began in 2013, when the housing association, that rents out approximately 38,000 homes across Denmark, challenged the team to create a block of flats that could uplift its neighbourhood through public space and provide healthy homes for all through good design – and to a strict budget.

BIG’s design solution is built of a singular prefab structure, based on the idea of a curved, porous wall of apartment modules. Stacked to meet the height of the surrounding architecture, the modules are clad with timber visually accentuating the formation.

Modular timber facade by BIG in Copenhagen

The exterior facade of the modular housing showing the recessed balconies. Photography: Rasmus Hjortshoj

The curve of the block makes room for landscaped public space that joins to the urban realm to the south, while to the north, a green courtyard is open for residents and the public alike in an area where it is needed.

With 3.5m high ceilings, vast floor-to-ceiling windows to wake up to and outdoor terraces in each home, the residence provides much of what a city dweller needs in terms of wellbeing – space, light and fresh air. §

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