Groundbreaking housing

In Groundbreaking Constructions - the current exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen - one of the main sections is on housing. Each section has one main example of the type - the other sections being Industrial Constructions, Infrastructure, Public Buildings and Culture - with a video about the site or structure. For housing that main example was the housing scheme at Søndergårdspark constructed between 1949 to 1951 for the Danish Public Housing Association and designed by Poul Hoff and Bennet Windinge..

Initially this appears to be curious as the design is hardly groundbreaking in terms of either style or construction method. Plans of the single-storey houses and their general appearance can be seen as a fairly straightforward development of the plan and the style of the houses of the Studiebyen housing quarter of 1920-24 or the Bakkehusene housing scheme of 1921-23.

What is important at Søndergårdspark was the large open public area at the centre, like a village green, with very little space given to private gardens for each house … just a small area of planting at the front onto a foot path and a square area at the back without walls or heavy fencing but with shrubs and trees providing some privacy.

There were three basic forms of house with detached houses on either side of the green with pairs of houses linked by a wooden structure or shed. There were row houses or short terraces to the west of the green but on a similar plan internally and then further to the west, beyond a service road, lines or rows of slightly larger family homes of one and a half storeys with attic bedrooms.

All the houses were carefully orientated to take maximum advantage of the sun with access from a footpath across the north side of each short row and the main rooms with large windows facing south. 

The area was ostensibly pedestrian and had a short parade of shops at the top corner near the main access from the road and on the way to or from the suburban railway station. This was the first public housing estate to give such prominence to the landscape setting - designed by Aksel Andersen.

more photographs of the Søndergårdspark housing scheme