Young architects do not easily get awards, especially international ones. Far from having to face stiff competition for more esteemed colleagues of theirs. they also face the daunting task of having to prove that, yes, they can do imaginative architecture even when lacking experience. Luckily, the case of the Mountain Dwellings project comes to the rescue. The baby of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), a young architecture office from Denmark, it was awarded the first prize in the Housing category at the World Architecture Festival 2008. The Mountain Dwellings is located in Orestad, a new urban development in Copenhagen and offer the best of
two worlds: closeness to the hectic city life in the centre of
Copenhagen, and the tranquillity characteristic of suburban life.
Mountain Dwellings is the second generation of VM houses, another BIG project at the same site, for the same client. There was one strong demand from the client though: 2/3 of the space should be reserved for parking and only 1/3 should be actual housing. Instead of doing two separate buildings, the architects decided to merge the two functions into a symbiotic relationship (in their own words). So the parking area became the base upon which the terraced
housing is placed. Looking like a concrete hillside covered by a thin layer of housing,
cascading from the 11th floor to the street edge.
The parking area needs to be connected to the street, and the homes
require sunlight, fresh air and views, thus all apartments have roof
gardens facing the sun, amazing views and parking on the 10th floor.
The Mountain Dwellings appear as a suburban neighbourhood of garden
homes, floating over a 10-storey building – suburban living with urban
density. The roof gardens consist of a terrace and a garden with plants changing
character according to the changing seasons. The building has a huge
watering system which maintains the roof gardens. The only thing that
separates the apartment and the garden is a glass façade with sliding
doors to provide light and fresh air.
Residents of the 80 apartments will be the first in Orestad to be able to park directly outside their homes. The enormous parking area contains 480 parking spots and is equipped with a sloping elevator
that moves along the parking’s inner walls. In some places the ceiling
height is up to 16 meters which gives the impression of a
The north and west façades are covered by perforated aluminium plates,
which let in air and light to the parking area. The holes in the façade
form a huge reproduction of Mount Everest. At day the holes in the aluminium plates will appear black on the bright aluminium, and the
gigantic picture will resemble that of a rough rasterized photo. At
night time the façade will be lit from the inside and appear as a photo
negative in different colours as each floor in the parking area has
Project: Mountain Dwellings
Size: 33,000 sq.m.
Client: Hoffner A.S. , Dansk Olie Kompagni A.S.
Collaborators: PLOT, JOS, Moe & Brodsgaard
Location: Orestad, Copenhagen S., Denmark
Built May 2008