Big and bold architecture of Copenhagen. The 8 House.

Big and bold architecture: Copenhagen, Denmark

If you like big and bold architecture, you will love Copenhagen and its world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingles (BIG).  It is easy to see why Bjarke has become a cult figure in the world of architecture.  You will see the hand of a daring architect in the big and bold suspended balconies at VM Houses, the apartments over a parking garage at Mountain Dwellings, and the giant mixed-use development shaped like the letter 8 at the 8 House. 

Getting there

Our visit to Copenhagen began with a sightseeing tour of the city center, a walking tour of the historic district of Nyhavn and a boat ride of the area.  We stayed at a hotel in Tarnby, which is one stop on the regional train line from the airport.  It was very convenient and perhaps the best way to get around in Copenhagen.  The city center was only a short train ride from Tarnby.  One of the places we wanted to visit was the new suburb of Orestad, which was the next stop on the regional train.  Orestad has two interesting projects designed by architect Bjarke Ingles (BIG).  8 House is one of them.  The other is the Mountain Dwellings.    

Bjarke Ingles’s big and bold architecture

Bjarke Ingles and his architectural firm BIG have garnered worldwide attention for their eye-popping buildings that elevate the mind and excite the senses.  Bjarke is not afraid to look beyond the mundane and create forms that seem to grow out of the careful analysis of local constraints.  We were pleased to see two of his big and bold architecture projects in his native Denmark, where his journey as an architect started. 

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The Mountain Dwellings

It is not uncommon to see an apartment building with parking garage below it.  What makes this project unique is that each apartment has access to a parking space on the same floor level.  In addition, each apartment has access to a terrace and a roof garden.  It is high density urban living with suburban lifestyle.  The best of both worlds.  The exterior of the parking garage is shaped like an artificial mountain which gives this project its name – Mountain Dwellings.

The 8 House

The 8 House reimagines a traditional perimeter block with a central courtyard as a bow tie shaped building with multiple courtyards.  The big and bold move literally lifted the portion of building in the northeast corner and pushed down the portion at the southwest corner.  The resulting structure allows plenty of light and air in the southern courtyard.  A masterful move which also created sloping roof terraces on two sides which double as bicycle paths to the tenth floor. 

The 8 House received an Honor Award in 2012 from the American Institute of Architects.  In granting the award, the award jury wrote, “People really “live” in this newly created neighborhood with shopping, restaurants, an art gallery, office facilities, childcare, educational facilities and the sound of children playing. This is a complex and exemplary project of a new typology.”

Title Image:  Fred Romero from Paris, FranceCC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.  Romero, F. (n.d.). File:København – 8Tallet (30882786402).Jpg. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from

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