First phase 1853-1857 Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll (1800-1856)

Second phase 1866- 1872 Vilhelm Klein (1835-1913)



The houses in Brumleby in Østerbro, were built for The Medical Association housing scheme and initially were known as Lægeforeningens Boliger.

These well-built but relatively inexpensive houses for poor families were some of the first social housing in Copenhagen and were built on the initiative of doctor Emil Hornemann as an immediate and practical response to a cholera epidemic in Copenhagen in 1853. Through that summer around 5,000 people died in the inner city and it was clear that the high rate of mortality was due to overcrowding in tightly-packed courtyards and tenements where there was little fresh air, poor water supply and inadequate sanitation. Plans for these new houses outside the city walls, on land on the fields beyond the lakes, were drawn up rapidly and work started in the Autumn after the outbreak.

Designed by Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll, that first phase of construction, begun in 1853 and completed in 1857, had eight terraces or rows set out with four blocks of houses in two lines separated by wide gardens with in all 240 units. Closely-spaced doorways and internal lobbies show that the accommodation, as in the earlier buildings at Nyboder, was sub divided with upper and lower apartments. Plans published in the book about the work of Bindesbøll by Peter Thule Kristensen reproduces an early plan that shows that there were to have been 33 families in each block so actually 264 apartments. The plan shows just two water pumps in the gardens with four wash houses - a wash house at the back shared between two blocks - and what appear to be privies or earth closets in small back yards behind each row. There was a separate building for the Inspectors Residence.

Building work was delayed by war with Germany and resumed in 1866 and was completed in 1872, adding a further 310 units. Bindesbøll had died in 1856 and this second phase was designed by Vilhelm Klein - a young architect who had trained in his office.

The houses are rendered with slate roofs and although simple in style they are well proportioned and distinctive in appearance with a continuous projecting band at the level of the sills of the first-floor windows with the walls below painted deep yellow ochre and with white above the band.

Common facilities for the tenants included a kindergarten, a bathhouse and a meeting hall and the first co-operative store in Copenhagen.

In the 1990s the houses were restored when small apartments were combined and for the first time they were given private toilets and bathrooms. There are now 221 apartments in the scheme.