apartment buildings in Copenhagen - a time line
Apartment blocks in Copenhagen in chronological sequence to provide a basic time line to show the development of the designs of both speculative buildings and social housing. They have been selected to show how plans and facades followed a number of clear types with some typical examples and some outstanding examples. Further buildings will be added as and when appropriate and some photographs will be updated if there is an chance to photograph buildings in better light or with less traffic or after scaffolding has been taken down if the buildings were under repair at the time of the first visit.
This is the grandest and most ambitious of the 19th-century apartment buildings in the city with four separate blocks that look out across the lakes and are placed symmetrically, two on each side of Frederiksborggade. The street was laid out after the city defences were levelled and this was to become the main road into the city from the north that crossed the lakes by Dronning Louise's bridge.
Vilhelm Valdemar Petersen and Ferdinand Jensen
An ambitious and theatrical scheme on both sides of a cross street that runs between Sønder Boulevard and Istedgade in Vesterbro.
The design of the street frontages is grand with dark grey ashlar for a ‘base’ on the ground floor; bricks laid to imitate ashlar on the first floor and above a giant order of fluted pilasters through the second and third floors and the order continuing, above an intermediate cornice, through the fourth floor. There are decorative terracotta panels between the windows of the third and fourth floors, good decorative plasterwork and the recessed elements at the centre of the street are treated like pavilions and have faceted spires at the four corners towards the street.
A building with very large apartments - with just four across the street frontage at each floor - and with complicated and sophisticated plans , each flat on any level different with some rooms having semi-circular ends or very deep bay windows. There are a number of service rooms at the back of each apartment, in short back ranges, grouped, as is usual at this period, around a second or service staircase leading down to the courtyards.
The design is reminiscent of buildings from the Arts and Crafts movement in England and, with the large building to its east, forms an attractive and important composition in the street scape close to Bethlehem Church. When the block was constructed it would have faced onto and looked down on the river that then ran down the centre of Åboulevard.
Åhusene housing scheme
Ulrik Plesner and Aage Langeland-Mathiesen
An important group of apartment buildings - in part because of the design but also because of the interesting planning with L-shaped blocks defining areas of garden on either side of the road that runs diagonally through the group. There is also an interesting mixture of stark plain geometric volumes for the underlying composition but with strong sculptural elements such as brick arcades, windows with strongly defined mullions but contrasted with areas of quite delicate decoration in the brickwork.
The blocks here were built in response to the shortage of housing for working-class families immediately after World War I and were financed by the municipality rather than a housing association.
Facades are simple, for economy, with few architectural features apart from the entrance doorways, but they are well proportioned and depend on the regular spacing of windows. Apartments are small and the inner courtyards of the two main blocks are quite narrow. The form and arrangement of these blocks set the pattern for the subsequent and rapid development of the city to the north west and north.
Tavsensgade housing scheme
Between Struenseegade and Hans Tavsensgade
With 290 apartments around a large open courtyard, the building covers a complete block, nearly 200 metres on the long sides. Sitting rooms faced out towards the street and bedrooms and narrow kitchens had windows towards the courtyard.
The courtyard is much wider and therefore lighter with more fresh air than in the courtyard of the slightly earlier blocks at Tavensgade.
Hornbækhus housing block
Ågade, Skotterupgade, Borups Allé and Hornbækgade
This massive apartment block in Østerbro was built on land that had been owned in the 18th century by Frederik Classen and is close to the Free Port that opened in 1904. The long north front to the street is daunting in scale but the courtyard has ranges only to the east and west but is open to the south, to Arendalsgade, for sunlight and fresh air.
The courtyard has what is, in effect, an inner service road against the building and the centre of the courtyard, with mature trees and children’s play equipment, is now an important and popular park for the area.
Classens Have housing block
Carl Petersen, Povl Baumann, Ole Falkentorp and Peter Nielsen
Artllerivej, Islands Brygge
A very functional arrangement of small apartments on six storeys around a massive, diamond-shaped courtyard. This has a classic arrangement for social housing with a series of doorways from the street into a main staircase and single apartments on each side on each floor. The apartments have a square sitting room to the street and a bedroom and narrow kitchen towards the courtyard. Behind the main staircase, on the courtyard side are the second or back staircases reached from each apartment from the kitchen.
The facades have a stripped-back beauty that depends completely on proportions and starkly regular alignment of windows.
To two sides there are a series of round-headed archways into the courtyard and there was one shop unit at the north-west corner for which drawings survive in the Danish National Art Library including designs for the lettering of the name.
west range to Sankt Kjelds Gade
Solgården housing block
Architect Henning Hansen
Landscape designed by C Th Sørensen.
view into courtyard at the south-west corner
Just north of the large, open, public space of Fælledparken, Solgården with 186 apartments is a complete city block over 125 metres wide east to west and over 85 metres north to south - with the east range at an angle - and the distinctive features of the south and west ranges being set back from the pavement for small outward-facing gardens and those two ranges do not meet at the corner so there is a wide opening to bring sunlight and fresh air into the courtyard.
The courtyard elevations and the main ranges with archways and shops on the ground floor facing out and the facades towards the courtyard are designed with a severe and regular classicism but the the bay windows of the outward-facing fronts of the south and west ranges, the hipped roofs of what are expressed as pavilions on either side of the opening into the courtyard and the small gardens suggest a more domestic and craft inspiration so this apartment building should be seen as a form and style in transition.
view down the east side of the courtyard
Vodroffsvej 2a and 2b
Kay Fisker and C F Møller
At the south end of the lakes on a triangular plot on the south-west corner of Sankt Jørgens Sø. The position against the lake to its east but with the shortest elevation to the south explains the importance of the balconies and the long runs of window. The plan, like a capital A, has service rooms and secondary staircases moved into the centre to place the maximum number of good rooms looking outwards. Broad bands of yellow and red brick and projection of window bays and the cutting back of corners makes a complex game of layers and planes particularly obvious at the south end where you can see that the apartments on the lake side are set up half a level from those to the street because the lake and the lakeside path are at a higher level than the road.
Ågade housing scheme
Hans Egedes Gade, Henrik Rungs Gade
A strangely narrow and irregular site so the corners of the block are boldly rounded, in part to disguise the odd angles. The apartments where built around two thirds of the block. These are relatively large apartments for that period and fitted with bathrooms from the start. Called the “linoleum building” because of the polychrome brickwork inspired by the 18th-century brickwork of the Opera House on Fredericiagade in the city.
On the north side of Hellerup, Blidah has twenty-six apartment blocks in a park setting on the site of a villa garden with mature trees that, in part, determined the position of the blocks. The staggered lines and the angle of the blocks were determined by the orientation of site and to make the most of sunlight. The blocks have apartments on three stories above raised basements for service rooms. Blocks towards the main road have bold semi-circular ends and there is a sophisticated play with round-ended balconies and areas of pale render. Glass screens along the edge of balconies provide shelter against sea breezes and the over-sailing eaves create some shade from strong summer sunlight.
Blidah Park housing scheme
Edvard Heiberg, Karl Larsen, Ivar Bentsen, Vagn Kaastrup and Ole Buhl
With a street frontage to Tomsgårdsvej of nearly 240 metres, Storgården is important as a housing scheme built as a long single range rather than around a courtyard. It is built across the slope nearly 5 kilometres north west of the city centre with views out across Copenhagen from the garden side. The distinctive feature of the garden front is the balconies but originally there were also balconies on the street side that were removed when the building was restored.
Despite the very regular almost rigid design of the facades, the internal arrangement is surprisingly complex giving apartments of different sizes with different numbers of rooms. The block curves gently towards the east end where Frederiksborgvej cuts across at an angle and here the architecture is more elaborate with a curved bay window the full height of the end.
This is one of the first large housing schemes to omit the secondary or back staircases.
Storgården housing project
Povl Baumann & Knud Hansen
On the long front to the street small square balconies were removed during a major restoration of the building - panels below windows mark where there were narrow doors onto the balconies
Lunding designed several apartment buildings in Copenhagen and all have an imaginative and distinctive arrangement of balconies and windows and, in particular, circular windows - this block is known as the champagne building - but also with windows at the corner that wrap around undermining visually the corner as a key point of the structure. In contrast, the main doorways, shaped or arched, are very solid and look as if they were inspired by medieval brick buildings.
Vestersøhus housing scheme
Kay Fisker and C F Møller
Facing onto Sankt Jørgens Sø, the apartment building is just under 300 metres long and occupies almost the whole west side of a long narrow block between Vester Søgade and Nyropsgade. There were 242 apartments in the block with ten shops and a hotel with 43 rooms.
The most striking feature of the front to the lake is the lines and rows of white balconies that give the facade almost the texture of basket weaving. The apartments have two rooms to the front - a large living room and a smaller room that is set back behind the balcony so the balcony projects but is also set half back into the building and this allows for a corner window in the sitting room that look out to the lake and in to the balcony and makes maximum use of south-west light through the afternoon and evening.
Although the facade is regular in its arrangement of fenestration and bays, in fact the apartments alternate, larger and smaller, down the length as the main staircases are not set between apartments but take up part of the space of one apartment reducing the size. The main staircases also project slightly to the back giving a bay rhythm to the courtyard side that is otherwise very stark. Following the traditional plan, there are second or back staircases with access from the kitchens of each apartment.
H C Ørstedsvej 54
A relatively narrow urban plot with a courtyard behind. The building had a large post office on the ground floor and the arrangement of the apartments is novel for the period. There is a tall, circular stair turret in the passageway from the street and this gives access to open balconies across the back of the building with front doors to each apartment from those balconies. The front of the building faces west onto a relatively busy street and the private balconies are to the front and are angled to make the most of the afternoon and evening sun.
Mogens Jacobsen and Alex Poulsen
An unusual apartment building in a west suburb. Staircases are central and turned to rise parallel to the front and back walls with adjoining apartments up or down by half a floor. Because of the orientation, facing west, the building is set back from the street line with space for a large front garden and apartments and the balconies look down on the garden. There is an access and service road to the east - to the back.
Bellahøjhusene housing scheme
Svenn Eske Kristensen, Edvard Heiberg, Karl Larsen, Ole Buhl and Harald Petersen, Dan Fink, A/S Dominias arkitektafdeling and Stadsarkitektens Direktorat
About 5 kilometres from the city hall, the plot runs from south west to north east for almost a kilometre along Bellahøjvej, from Frederikssundsvej to Godhåbsvej. There are about 1300 apartments in the scheme.
An old manor was retained at the centre so there are 15 blocks to the north and 14 to the south west. Apartment are in what appear to be separate solid turrets linked by central staircases and lifts that are almost completely glazed. Facing is with large concrete tiles set vertically and the external severity is relieved (slightly) by angled balconies with interesting patterns from casting the concrete and with built in planters.
Dronningegård housing scheme
Kay Fisker, C F Møller, Sven Eske Kristensen
A large area in the quarter around Abelgade and Borgergade, one block back from the King’s Garden, was cleared of slums and was the largest area of redevelopment in the city at that time.
It is a dense development of small apartments in four L-shaped blocks at the corners of a large square now crossed by roads but an early photograph seems to show grass at the centre with traffic kept around the edge so without roads across the middle.
For apartment blocks in the historic centre of the city these buildings are taller than normally allowed.
Høje Gladsaxe housing scheme
Hoff & Windinge, Jørgen Juul Møller and Kai Agertoft and Alex Poulsen
Renovation by A5 Tegnestuen 1991-1992
Master plan drawn up by Vilhelm Lauritzen in 1943. There are 1,435 apartments in the five main blocks in a line above a long garden terrace and a further 486 in lower blocks at the west end of the development.
An extensive renovation included glazing the south-facing balconies, creating garden rooms.
Brøndby Strand housing scheme
Svend Høgsbro and Thorvald Dreyer
There are 3,000 housing units split between twelve towers and low-level rows of housing between.
The original appearance of the blocks was modified when the scheme was renovated by Tegnestue Vandkunsten between 1991 and 1993.
Langelinie housing scheme
Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen
Substantial apartment blocks on the outer quay of the old Free Port. The depth and solid mass of the buildings was deliberate to replicate the scale of old warehouses around the harbour. Through the summer cruise ships dock along the seaward side of the quay and actually manage to dwarf the buildings. There are commercial blocks at the end of the quay.
Charlottehaven housing scheme
Standboulevarden, Hjørringgade, Kalkbrænderivej
Boje Lundgaard and Lene Tranberg
Built on the site of an aluminium factory, there are 178 apartments with 44 serviced apartments around three sides of a very large landscaped courtyard with a main road out of the city immediately to the west and open to the east but partly closed in by a line of separate blocks on that side that include a health club, a swimming pool and cafe and kindergarten.
There are a series of separate entrance doors with apartments on each side so a conventional housing block arrangement. The sixth level is faced in grey with less obbvious fenestration to drop the height back into the sky colour and the top level is penthouses and private roof terraces that are set back - again to reduce the impact of the height.
VM Building housing scheme
Two blocks interlock on either side of a common access street forming a letter M and a V when seen from the air. With a large open area to the south as a break before aother large building, the arrangement gives the maximum light and views out to the sides for the apartments. The sharp angles of the plan and different heights is exploited with a huge variety of plans and shapes for the individual apartments - 40 different plans in the V building and 36 different arrangements in the M building. Less usual for Copenhagen but found in some of the public housing schemes from the 1950s is long open balconies reached from staircases and lifts at the ends and giving access to a series of front doors … the more common arrangement in the city has been a vertical division. On the south side of the V building, sharply-angled balconies are set so as not to throw shadows across balconies below. Spaces are large and open-plan with some apartment having 5 Metre ceiling heights.
Tåsingegade and Østerbrogade
C F Møller
This site in Østerbro was previously occupied by a car dealership. There is a relatively narrow frontage to Østerbrogade which is a busy road in and out of the city. The plot is deep running back down Tåsingegade but that faces north - although the courtyard does face south - so maximising light and reducing noise from traffic were clearly important factors in the the design.
This is a version of the traditional housing block with five floors but with an ‘attic’ or penthouse level. There are 52 apartments around three sides of the courtyard with balconies to the courtyard and roof terraces. Window bays project on the street fronts and are angled and staggered to make maximum use of light and give views down onto the street below but without casting shadows over windows in lower apartments. The ground floor is retail and the floor above has no bay windows which are on the second floor and higher, but this deliberately echoes the pattern of fenestration on the adjoining apartment building.
Bjørn Nørgaard with Boldsen & Holm
The apartment buildings at Bispebjerg Bakke were designed by the partnership of the Danish artist Bjørn Nørgaard with the architectural practice Boldsen & Holm.
Although theapartments were completed in 2007, the initial idea went back many years before that to a conversation between Nørgaard and the chairman of the Association of Craftsmen so, from the start, an important aspect of the scheme was to have a strong link between an artistic concept and its execution with a very high level of craftsmanship.
Bjarke Ingels Group - BIG
Although it might not be immediately obvious, this building is a variation on the standard Copenhagen housing block but literally given a twist. The common courtyard, here with a nursery school, is important and there are shops and commercial buildings at the lowest level but there is a walkway that winds up and through the building and many of the apartments have two storeys and are entered from the walkway through a small front garden so are more like a house than a flat. The building drops steeply to the south, towards open land of a nature reserve, to bring in light and fresh air but without completely undermining the effect of an enclosed courtyard. There are 476 apartments or housing units that creates a large community.