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Residential complex Mountain Dwellings

BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group

Residential complex Mountain Dwellings
By Emiliano Gandolfi -

Making a mountain in Copenhagen is the sort of provocation you would expect of Bjarke Ingels. It’s surely what’s needed to break the monotony of the ever-wider sprawl of suburban maisonettes that blanket the flat Danish capital. It may also be the way to create greater density while giving every dwelling a view. But as with all BIG projects, it’s not just in-your-face counterculture: it’s a pragmatic architectural execution of a developer’s brief.
Mountain Dwellings (MTN) is the natural follow-on from a residential complex called VM*, a landmark regeneration project for the Ørestad neighbourhood south of Copenhagen. Completed in 2005, VM was one of the first programmes to come out of PLOT - and one of its last before the practice split in 2006 into two independent groups: BIG and JDS Architects, the later headed by Julien De Smedt.
The underlying principles behind the VM project - occupier input on apartment layout and forms that ensure decent views from every dwelling - are the DNA of this project too. But unlike these two residential buildings, MTN had a further constraint: one-third of the area had to be housing and two-thirds parking space.
BIG took the requirement pretty literally, concluding that a parking lot topped by houses would be better than two separate buildings. The whole complex could then be sloped on the south side so that every apartment would have a garden with a view and space for the family car by the side of the house.
The dwellings with garden are set on graded terraces that slope from the 12th to the 1st floor. Even if each complies with the standard 10x10 metre grid, there are some 42 different apartment ground plans, allowing for customised layouts to accommodate different needs. Despite the complexity of the building, the immediate impression is one of naturalness. Every garden is bordered by a wide flowerbox whose plants will soon inundate the building, providing privacy but also making this artificial hillside all...

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