White Arkitekter’s Copenhagen studio has been selected as winners of a competition to design 115 individual homes as part of a social housing project in Denmark’s Allerød Municipality. Located north of the capital city of Copenhagen, the new neighborhood will be bordered by forest and a lake, inviting the nature in to complement and screen individual buildings. The project, titled “By the Woods,” will attempt to subvert typical preconceptions about social housing through the blurring of public and private space.
In traditional affordable housing developments, public and private spaces are separated abruptly and unnaturally. In “By the Woods,” White Arkitekter has softened those lines by utilizing existing natural elements on the site, creating semi-public spaces that encourage residents to socialize in common areas.
“There is an unfortunate stigma attached to social housing; they are grey, static, generic, colossal buildings surrounded by parking lots, empty lawns and concrete,” says Morten Vedelsbøl, Creative Director at White Arkitekter in Copenhagen. “For us, it was important to have none of that, so we decided to let nature lead the way. Nature is dynamic and resilient – just like we want our neighbourhood to be”
The project consists of 155 row houses of two, three or four rooms arranged to match the hilly terrain of the site. Sustainably-sourced wood is used to clad both exterior facades and interior walls, and additional natural elements line spaces between the buildings and on rooftops.
“We deliberately created the sensation that nature is taking over. We wanted residents to have a sensuous experience with the woods when outside or looking through the kitchen window from the inside”, says Mikkel Thams, Design Architect and Project Manager at White’s Copenhagen studio.
To further blur lines between public and private, each unit features an individual terrace enclosed on the sides to encourage residents to move their living rooms outside. The terraces can also be used for garden beds or as an outdoor gathering space. There are, however, no fences throughout the complex, giving the neighborhood an open and inclusive feel.
“Traditionally, the transitions between private houses and the outside were abrupt, discouraging people from personalising common areas and the exterior of their homes,” explains Vedelsbøl. “This sends a signal that the community comes before the individual, but it also alienates residents from using common areas, which turns them into dead zones.”
The project is slated for completion in 2018.
LocationAllerød Municipality, Denmark
Design TeamMorten Vedelsbøl (Creative Director) Mikkel Thams Olsen (Architect and Project Manager), Ann Christiansen (Architect), Scott Grbavac (Architect), Daria Cichön (Architectural intern), Marija Ambrasaite (Architectural intern), Ivanka Ivanova (Architectural intern)
EngineerOluf Jørgensen A/S
PhotographsWhite Arkitekter and Beauty and the Bit, Courtesy of White Arkitekter