3XN and UNStudio in Århus

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Danish architects 3XN and Dutch practice UNStudio have jointly won a competition for a housing project on the waterfront in Århus, Denmark.

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Called the Light*house, the project will feature Denmark's tallest building and contain a mixture of luxury private apartments and social housing.

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Press release follows:

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Facts about the Light*house project

General
The Municipality of Aarhus has initiated the development of the city harbour areas of Aarhus. Stage 1, which comprises the present Pier 4 – the outermost part of Aarhus Harbour towards the north, consists of development of a new urban area of approx. 60,000 square metres.

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The development project consists of private as well as non-profit housing facilities of approx. 40,000 square metres and commercial facilities of approx. 20,000 square metres. There will be approx. 400 residences, of which approx. 100 will be non-profit rental residences and approx. 300 will be owner-occupied residences (of these approx. 270 flats and 30 terraced houses).

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A new vibrant district
As a brand new thing, Light*house has involved experts in urban environments with comprehensive experience from harbour environments abroad (Australia, New Zealand, USA and Norway) from the very beginning to ensure a vibrant, attractive and safe district - for the people who live and work in the district as well as a destination for the citizens and visitors of the city. The intention is to create a safe local environment which puts an ends to the conventional blocks and instead forms small groups of terraced houses, so that the residents belong to a smaller community where they know their neighbours.

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A lovely harbour promenade with evening sun, café environments, a large square which enable common free-time activities, a master plan with interaction between private, semi-public and public areas, public access to the view from the tower with the Skybar at the top of the building are among the attractions of this district. It will be possible to access the area by car, but all cars are to be parked in a common, underground parking facility. This will ensure optimum conditions for pedestrians, cyclists, etc.

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"We have carefully studied the well-functioning new harbour fronts as well as the many which we think do not work, and considered how to make it Denmark’s best and most vibrant urban area by Aarhus Harbour. Accordingly, this area will offer activities for the residents as well as for the entire city. We have been working with permanent attractions such as the harbour promenade along the north edge of the area, view-point cafés or a trip to the Skybar on top of the multi-storey block. There will be room for flexible and seasonal elements and for more one-off events such as e.g. events in connection with the Aarhus festival week", says Professor Jan Gehl from Gehl Architects.

Diversity
Light*house meets the Municipality of Aarhus’ innovative vision of a healthy balance between different types of houses and income groups in the new district. The requirement from the Municipality was that 25 per cent of the residences are to be non-profit rental houses. 100 of the 400 houses will therefore be owned by the housing associations Arbejdernes Andels Boligforening and Boligforeningen Ringgården.

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This is the first time a Danish municipality requires such a high degree of rental flats in this type of urban development project, but experiences with this mix are good, for instance in the Netherlands.

"To me, Light*house leads the way of the housing associations' constructions in future, such as Villabyen Skovbakken in Aarhus or the Bellahøj houses in Copenhagen. This is high-quality construction with a marvellous location which we will now be able to offer to our members," says Anders Rønnebro from AAB.

The architecture
The architecture has been developed in close cooperation between the Danish architects 3XN, the Dutch architects UNStudio and the urban environment experts in Gehl Architects. The architecture was developed entirely from scratch based on the Municipality’s master plan combined with thorough studies of the societal development, cultural trends and living conditions, the marvellous location of the area as well as considerations of wind and weather conditions.

The vision of the Light*house project has been"to create a wonderful city at eye-level with nice houses on top of it". The basic idea of the design was to give all houses access to the sun from the south and the view from the north. It is about living the view. This means that the constructions will only have facades; the houses will have no rear sides. In the design, the architects have focused on the constructions being handsome close-up as well as at a distance, nice to live in and to look at from the flats and pleasant to be walking around in.

"The construction appears homogenous as well as individual. As a resident, you will always know your own house from a distance with individual details such as balconies. But also, the buildings stand out with common characteristics as we know it from districts such as Trøjborg and Frederiksbjerg in Aarhus. The characteristic patterns of the facades reflect the reflections of light in water", says Kim Herforth Nielsen from 3XN.

“The Light*house project signals how today’s individualization in society can be enriched by new forms of collectivity. From design of the district as a whole to fitting up of the individual house, the project is about bringing people together – those who live there as well as those who like to go there. Like in a traditional city centre, but here with an extra multi-storey block dimension", says Ben van Berkel from UNStudio.

The Tower
The tower will be 130 m; add to this a glass canopy of 10-12 m, so that the total height will be 140-142 m.

Construction process and sustainability
The construction is expected to start at the beginning of January 2008, depending on the approval of the local plan. The first residences are expected to be completed in 2010.

The intention of the Light*house project is for the construction to be performed from the seaside to protect the centre of Aarhus from heavy traffic through the city. Depending on the possibilities resulting from discussions with Aarhus Harbour and the Municipality of Aarhus, Light*house wishes to remove the present buildings and quay areas as well as to bring in the materials for the new construction from the seaside to the extent possible.

Light*house will be constructed according to the latest construction standards and will a.o. be one of the first larger constructions to be constructed according to the new rules on energy-saving measures. The development in sustainable construction, materials and technology is rapid, and the latest methods will be applied in the design and construction phases.

"Of course, the construction work is to be carried out with the least possible inconvenience for the city and the nearby residences. Presently, the area is burdened by noise from the industrial harbour, but this noise will end already before the construction work begins. And the view of the containers will be replaced by beautiful buildings", says Søren Larsen from the consulting engineering company Grontmij | Carl Bro.

The experience of the consortium
The consortium Light*house as a whole represents solid experience in construction of multi-storey blocks and constructions in water. Through its German and Dutch partners, Grontmij |Carl Bro has great experience in construction of multi-storey blocks, and the consulting engineers also have great experience in construction in water from Danish projects. UNStudio is based in Amsterdam and thereby in the Dutch construction tradition in which water is a given element. On the basis of this experience, UNStudio is presently creating multi-storey blocks in Taiwan, Singapore and New York. 3XN is experienced within this area from i.a. the Music House (MuziekGebouw/BIMhuis) in Amsterdam and Museum of Liverpool, which are both placed by the water and with difficult foundation conditions.

Ownership
Light*house is a consortium consisting of Udviklingsselskabet af 30.08.2006 and of two of the non-profit rental housing associations Arbejdernes Andels Boligforening (AAB) and Boligforeningen Ringgården. Udviklingsselskabet af 30.08.2006 is owned by Keops Development A/S and K/S Frederiksbjerg Ejendomme (50 per cent each).

Project total: Approx. DKK 2 billion.

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Posted on Wednesday, April 18th, 2007 at 11:49 pm by . See our copyright policy. Before commenting, please read our comments policy.