C. F. Møller Architects designed the NORDLYSET in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Description from the architects:
Amerika Plads – a new urban district in Copenhagen
The Nordlyset residential block on Amerika Plads has been designed as a part of a larger general development plan for the area around the harbour of Søndre Frihavn in Copenhagen. The visions for the plan arose out of a joint project between Copenhagen Port, Copenhagen Municipality and the well-known Dutch architect Adriaan Geuze of the architectural firm WEST 8.
The basic idea of the plan is to create a new urban district with a sufficient density to give the impression of being in a genuine and vital city, where people both live and work. One of the models for the plan was the Hornbækhus housing block in Copenhagen, designed by the architect Kay Fisker. A prerequisite of the plan was that an artist should be involved in the project.
The idea behind Nordlyset
Nordlyset is a six-storey, white-polished block which forms a clear, angular and smooth “body” in the densely built-up block district. The facades are broken by protruding glass panels in light colours, mounted at right-angles to the facade alongside the balconies.
The principal idea of the building is represented by the interplay between the heavy, precise, smooth forms on an urban scale and the crystalline, transparent, crisp glass panels on a more human and personal scale. The block’s physical “twist” and displacements are moreover specifically determined by its place in the general plan and by the passage of the sun across the site, so as to secure the best possible light and view for the residents.
Dynamics and view
The western facade of Nordlyset forms an outdoor wall in the new Amerika Plads. Many people pass by here, including those on their way up and down to the underground car park, café guests in the reborn Freeport Station building, and commuters travelling between Østerbro Station and the nearby DFDS terminal. The Nordlyset facade is bisected by an archway in the northernmost part which provides access to a staircase/lift and the planted courtyard in the interior of the block. The building is recessed by the archway to allow room for the complex’s café on the corner. The café is located so as to create an opportunity for social contact as a contribution to the general life on the square.
The eastern facade on Dampfærgevej rises up seven storeys, which ensures that the flats towards the west and the courtyard receive the greatest amount of light, and that as many residents as possible are provided with a view of the Sound. The increased building height towards the east also accentuates the building and, consequently, the entire district, more clearly in relation to the new block district when approaching from the south along Dampfærgevej, once you have passed by the old warehouses. Here, too, the building is recessed at ground level, giving the ground-floor flats over the underground car park their own private outdoor areas.
The building is broken towards both the north and the south, allowing the flats a view of the harbour and of the Sound to the east, and the benefit of the evening sun towards the west via a gap between Nordlyset and the neighbouring building.
The large breaks and twists in the building body thus do not merely help to create dynamics in the urban plan, but also have a function: the north and south facades benefit from the orientation in the form of enhanced light and view.
The facades are smooth, white and polished, and are quite consciously intended to underline the impression of a solid building body. To support this impression, the balconies have been “dug” out of the heavy form like holes in a surface. The balcony recesses are also staggered in a bond-like pattern – again to emphasise the surface.
A condition laid down in the urban plan formulated by Copenhagen Municipality, Copenhagen Port and Adriaan Geuze was that an artist should be attached to the project. C. F. Møller Architects consequently contacted the visual artist Ruth Campau and entered into a partnership with her.
From the start, the aim of this co-operation was that it should result in a genuine “gesamtkunst”, i.e. that the art and architecture should inspire each other to such a degree that one genre could not exist independently of the other without losing its aesthetic qualities.
Ruth Campau’s light, ethereal striped images are thus fully integrated into the building, and take the form of carefully balanced glass panels which have the practical function of physically separating the balconies. The double glass panels are located inside the balcony recesses, and project outwards at right-angles to the facade.
The light, crystalline glass panels serve several purposes: they enrich the artistic dimension of the facade by providing a contrast to the neutral-coloured, right-angled, polished facade, and they provide a small testament to the humanity, transparency and openness represented by the balconies.
The glass panels also add an extra layer of experience as you move around the building in the relatively narrow streets of the block district. From below, the panels protrude from the facade, catching the light and refracting it on their edges, so that they give the appearance of refined ice crystals in the sun above the entire facade, in a staggered pattern and with a colour scale that varies according to the route you take around the building.
Access via four archways
Nordlyset is bisected at four points on the ground floor by archways which provide access to the common courtyard, thereby emphasising the entrances and exits to the flats. The archways have been specially treated with glass with coloured stripes. The building has four main staircases with accompanying lifts.
The archways, with their staircases and lifts, are laid out in a pattern like the sails of a windmill in the block to optimise the wind conditions in the courtyard. The archways are equipped with doors made of galvanised steel, in a bond pattern which reflects the bond pattern of the facade.
In the stairwells, the facades facing inwards are clad with Ruth Campau’s striped, grey-brown glass, through which you can make out the red stripes in the elevator shafts. The red stripe becomes lighter and lighter, the higher you go with the lift. The result is an exciting staircase with an intimate atmosphere in both daylight and artificial light, whether seen from inside or outside, or by day or night.
Nordlyset contains 102 flats, ranging in size from 70 m² to 150 m². All of the flats possess balconies on two sides, some in connection with the common access road. In general, the recreational spaces are oriented to the south/west, and the rooms to the north/east. In many of the flats the recreational areas are continuous, and lit from the west/east or north/south.
The flats are designed as 3-4 room family flats and penthouse flats with large terrace areas on the top storey. All of the balconies have glass screens which support the building’s overall light expression and extend the view of the city from deep within the flat.
On the ground floor, the areas to the north and west are designed to accommodate shops. Temporary “studio” mini-flats will be established here for a period of up to 10 years.
Lush and peaceful courtyard garden
The courtyard is intended to hold an organically-shaped, well-planted recreational garden for all residents. The privacy needs of the ground-floor residents will be accommodated, while the courtyard will be generally useful and atmospheric.
The courtyard forms a roof over the underground car park, so large-scale landscaping is not an option. Instead, green lawns, twining plants and low, pruned cherry trees will be established in winding beds.
The garden’s lushness is important in order to form a peaceful, surprising, fertile “organic” space as a contrast to the surrounding disciplined, “hard” and very urban city. It has been partly inspired by the very green courtyards in Berlin’s central block districts.
As all of the flats have balconies facing onto the courtyard areas, the garden will to some extent be seen from above. Accordingly, it has been designed to be a “viewing garden”, with inspiration from Baroque and Renaissance gardens, and in which the passage of the seasons can be followed in the varying structure and colours of the vegetation.
|Architecture Design||C. F. Møller Architects|
|Photography||Torben Eskerod, Jørgen True|