Big and bold architecture: Copenhagen, Denmark

If you like big and bold architectural projects, you will love Copenhagen and its world-renowned architect Bjarke Ingles (BIG).  It is easy to see why Bjarke has become a cult like 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, or the giant mixed-use development shaped like the letter 8 at the 8 House. 

Getting there

We stayed at a hotel in Tarnby, which is one stop on the regional train from the airport.  It was very convenient and perhaps the best way to get around in Copenhagen.  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 the danish architect Bjarke Ingles (BIG).  8 House is one of them.  The other is the Mountain Dwellings.  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.  The city center was only a short train ride from Tarnby.     

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 projects in his native Denmark, where his journey as an architect started. 

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 of apartments 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.”

Image credit:  By Fred Romero from Paris, France – København – 8Tallet, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66141948

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