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.

Reform at northmodern

Reform was set up in 2014 by Michael Andersen, an engineer who was formerly employed at Bjarke Ingels’s architectural firm BIG, and Jeppe Christensen who comes from an education in marketing and economics but also has a background in carpentry and design.

They identified a need for well designed kitchens and a reasonable price point and came up with the idea to use the base or carcase of the IKEA kitchen range but to add customised work tops and drawer and cupboard fronts … customers plan the kitchen they want and order the cabinets from their local IKEA store and the fronts and tops from Reform.


They designed their first Reform make-over kit that they have called Basis (above) with clean, straightforward lines in white with either slot-shaped or round holes for drawer pulls and a very clean, sharp-looking dark green top but the really clever move was to also commission further designs from major Danish architectural firms including BIG, Henning Larsen Architects and Norm Architects and further designs are on the way.



The kitchen from BIG has a slim dark composite top or that can be in plain steel and there is a choice of white or oak for cupboards and drawer fronts with simple but striking handles formed with a loop of black webbing used for car seat belts.

From Henning Larsen Architects the design comes with oak veneer for the top and ends and fronts with either oak and a band of copper or white with a band of steel.



A fiber concrete top for the design from Norm Architects can be combined with either a bronze-like front called Tombac or with sawn oak or a very dark smoked oak that brings out the grain of the wood. As with other work from Norm, the design appears at first to be very sharp and industrial but it is designed to soften and wear in with use. The concrete top shown at northmodern had an integral concrete sink … great style.

Amager mountain rises


Taken this week from across the harbour in Copenhagen, the photograph above shows how far work has progressed on the waste to energy incineration plant on Amager designed by BIG … the Bjarke Ingels Group. From the city side of the harbour, the upper part, flanked by cranes, can now be seen above the trees.

When completed, the building will be 90 metres high with a viewing platform at the top and a slope running down with ski runs of 1.5 kilometres. Photographs taken earlier in the month from closer to the works show part of the slope to the left. The slope will be planted with trees and will form a mountain trail in the summer.

Lifts to the top, adjacent to the stack, will have glass on the inner sides to give visitors views of the inner workings of the plant.

A piston in the chimney will force condensation out as giant smoke rings. Apparently this mechanism for blowing the smoke rings was tested successfully a couple of months ago though I missed it. The idea is that the rings will give the people of Copenhagen a visual reminder of just how much waste material is being burnt.