Groundbreaking apartments

In the housing section of the Groundbreaking Constructions exhibition there are a number of apartment buildings including the first high rise housing in Copenhagen … the 28 towers of Bellahoj that date from 1951-56 and so almost contemporary with Søndergårdspark but taking a very different form with 1,300 flats in 28 towers varying in height from nine to thirteen stories.

Very large apartment buildings for public housing had first been constructed in Copenhagen in the 1920s as a response to severe housing shortages immediately after the First World War. Hornbækhus at Borups Allé, designed by Kay Fisker was completed in 1923.

Vestersøhus, also by Fisker but working with C F Møller, is also included in the exhibition. It was completed in 1939 and had 242 apartments, ten shops and a hotel with 43 rooms.

Fisker again but working with Eske Kristensen designed the Dronningegården and Christiansgården blocks that were completed in 1958 for a very extensive urban renewal scheme with road widening and the creation of a new square with four L-shaped blocks and again with shops on the ground floor. These post-war buildings move away from the earlier Copenhagen arrangement for apartments that were generally built around a large open communal courtyard that was generally landscaped but included areas for drying clothes.

The exhibition includes two recent and major housing developments with the VM Bjerget building of 2008 and the 8 Tallet of 2010 … both on Amager and both designed by BIG … the Bjarke Ingels Group. The first rejects the type of apartment building with a single rectangular block, using the layout of a V and and M shape to give maximum light and views out for each apartment and the 8 Block returns to the courtyard form but uses levels and mixed use in a much more ambitious and imaginative way.