QoL+ Community Housing

Competition entry for estate regeneration project in a suburb of Copenhagen

Our proposal for the regeneration of an existing mass housing estate on the outskirts of Copenhagen embraces the existing community and its physical context, encouraging social interaction and co-operation and improving the quality of life.

A series of small, well-considered interventions, activate and enhance existing conditions and societal connections, resulting in an infrastructure for positive change and a vibrant built environment.

Shared Living Room | Community Amenity | City Amenity

Existing stair cores are extended up to serve new penthouses, and out through the blocks to activate previously inaccessible land on the sunnier south and west sides of the buildings. Provision of a communal ‘Living-Room’ and sun-terrace, in addition to letterboxes, bike-storage and shared garden, increases neighbourly interaction as the ten apartments within each ‘House’ decide how they are used.

Each House is free to use their communal Living-Room, adjoining Sun-Terrace and Garden for anything from music lessons, to art or yoga-studio, games room, community-office or base for a chess/bird-watching/gardening/childrens etc. club, or even a not-for-profit social enterprise.

Soon a vibrant network of Living Rooms will exist, providing an important local amenity and encouraging cross-block friendships. The natural progression of this, as blocks collaborate, would be larger site-wide events such as art, craft or music festivals, community celebrations or bric-a-brac sales and home-grown food markets.

Once empowered some residents may decide to reach a consensus to create allotments in the larger central site areas, or engage with organisations across the globe; swapping ideas and experience to further improve their quality of life. Others may simply decide they prefer an open spacious entrance hall and an occasional catch-up with neighbours as they collect their post.

Creation of access through the blocks is a simple yet significant move that enriches the daily routine and quality of life for all residents, who can now chose to walk in the sun on the soft-landscaped side of the blocks. It also breaks down the length of the blocks providing convenient ingress/egress and importantly it provides choice as new routes are created between Sun-Terraces.

Our light-touch proposal looks to improve the public realm by retaining and enhancing the existing landscape on either side of the blocks, i.e. hard-landscape to North & East sides, and soft-landscape to South & West sides. The length of blocks, edges and thresholds between each landscape area are clearly identified with suitable materials, such as a line of trees (soft), or lightposts (hard). This differentiates between areas and provides a more interesting external environment.

Treating only the landscape immediately adjacent to either side of the blocks by enhancing their existing materiality and edge, is an approach that can be transferred to any site. The remaining site areas, such as between the four blocks is then free to programme to suit the needs of the local community. It could remain as existing, or as suggested and proposed elsewhere, the management in part be transferred to the community who may opt for allotments and so on.

Upgraded elevations respond to the adjacent soft/hard landscape. South/West elevations incorporate timber structural framing and generous planted wintergardens, the glazing of which reflect the trees opposite. North/South elevations are rendered in a range of complimentary stony tones, to create interest and evoke a hard street elevation.

Much in the same way as the Living Rooms connect local communities, we propose encouraging access by opening pedestrian and vehicular access where possible, such as on the North East corner of the site.