HTDSTUDIO DESIGNOFFICE has shared with ArchDaily their redevelopment plan for an industrial swath of land on the Nordhavnen water front. Their proposal, Pixel City can be found after the jump.

This community was developed with the idea of life as a focus from the inception of the design process. Great emphasis was set on carefully balancing and integrating residential, cultural, commercial, recreational, naturalistic and institutional elements of this masterplan. A holistic approach to both micro and macro organization were seen as being crucial to this ultra livable city.


Special attention was given to influencing and promoting activities, interaction and micro-climates. Day and night, summer and winter activities were seen as a keystone to creating a vibrant and sustainable town. To create a range of special places and different characters, the same kinds of functions are placed in proximity to each other. This means that the most activity creating functions are assembled, thus creating lively and exciting places. A pixelated masterplan was instrumental in creating sensual and permeable sequences of green spaces and water to intertwine within the urban fabric. This unique linkage system of intriguing paths, lanes and squares promotes variations of discovery. The water’s edge is designed to invite residents for leisurely walks and cycle rides along most of the island’s coastline. A raised topography along key arterial spines allows vehicular traffic to circulate along a sub-deck level without conflicting with pedestrians and cyclist above deck. In this scheme pedestrians and cyclist enjoy unimpeded and preferential treatment over mechanized modes of transportation. Nordhavnen citizens can also avail of a subway system when traveling beyond their home districts.


Except for the preservation district to the north all other districts are designed to offer residents a full variety of experiences and services within their general vicinity thus relieving them of having to travel to adjacent districts for necessities. Nordhavnen is to be a highly sustainable development which will encompass multiple key technologies in order to greatly reduce its carbon footprint. Flexibility and adaptability are also to be synonymous with all aspects of the masterplan. The Historical, Gateway and Community districts each have core use elements that are centered around a school, daycare center and other core uses that are essential to binding a community together. All districts have a well integrated housing strategy of inclusion for persons of all socio-economic levels.




Historical District

The Historical District situated to the south-east of Nordhavnen retains all buildings of historical significance whilst stitching in contemporary interventions not only in the x and y axis, but also in the Z axis. Special attention has been given to utilize negative spaces as green zones and retail/entertainment areas. The historical district is the artist district with its many art galleries, street cafes, specialty shops and unique juxtapositions of old and new. This district retains its dockland origins with traditional fishing activities and port vernacular architecture.

Gateway District

Situated along the west side, the Gateway District is the commercial heart of Nordhavnen with a mix of offices, large retail anchor stores, medium retail, residential, hotel and cultural elements. This district is to be considered as the most urban realm or downtown of the masterplan. Sculptured raised hills running along in a north-south axis provide residents with sun catching climate protected viewing plazas allowing residents to take advantage of spectacular vistas.

Community District

The community district is Nordhavnen’s residential neighborhood located on the central eastern area of the development. This district takes advantage of it’s location to maximize outdoor recreational areas along the quays and inland.

Sports Mixed Use District

This northwestern district is Nordhavnen’s entertainment center with a multipurpose stadium, multiplex cinema, hotel, restaurants and a church.

Preservation District

The preservation district is a protected natural reserve which is meant to be used as an educational tool for residents of Nordhavnen and in particular for children. The only human intervention is that of a caretaker’s house and small ecology museum. Residents are encouraged to view indigenous plant and wildlife via a circuitous suspended pedestrian timber walkway.



Steel Shipping Containers

Now more than ever, a cost effective element of new construction that is a plentiful resource globally giving this concept a broader viability around the world. The unitized containers are configured and fitted in a manufacturing unit located in the Gateway district and then delivered and installed on site at a fraction of traditional construction time. The development calls for 60% of residences to be built of these low carbon footprint units.

Energy + Resource + Waste Management

A site-wide centralized utility plant/district heating houses the wide array of technologies to insure that Nordhavnen is a highly sustainable community. Hydro ocean energy – wave or tidal (Near shore). Bio methane anaerobic digester that takes medical, food and human waste and turns it into methane gas. Integrated wind turbines within building envelopes. Solar panels for electric generation at curtain walls and roof panels. Grey water collection systems for irrigation and flushing of urinals and water closets in commercial buildings. Efficient Building management systems in commercial buildings. Waste Vacuum system site wide vacuum based system situated in refuse rooms in building cores and at strategically located street side location for both waste and recycling material. Atrium Vent Stack Systems for efficient passive cooling systems Careful siting of buildings to enable positive heat gain.



Nordhavnen’s master plan gives priority to pedestrians and cyclist through the means of pedestrian zed streets and cycling lanes followed by street trolleys, water taxi and metro/light rail system. Automobiles are discouraged by allowing them to only access the below deck car park.

Construction Materials

Building techniques and material sourcing are critical elements to achieving Nordhavnen’s low carbon footprint goals. Recycled Steel Fly ash concrete High strength highly workable mix with fly ash by-product from power plants. Steel Shipping Container based living units built on site. Specification of materials from indigenous manufacturers.

General Sustainability Ethos


Nordhavnen’s aim is to be a flexible and evolving model of a 21st century town which focuses on renewable energy, waste reduction, ecological building materials and alternative transportation options as a key to it’s viability, livability and longevity.

Site Plan

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Hank Jarz. "Nordhavnen Pixel City / HTDSTUDIO DESIGNOFFICE" 19 Mar 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.