Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA,
SeARCH and Louis Paillard


A team of architects including JDS Architects and CEBRA are close to completing this harbour-side housing development modelled on a cluster of floating icebergs in Denmark (+ slideshow).

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

Due to be inaugurated this spring, the complex is one of the first projects underway at De Bynære Havnearealer, the new docklands quarter of Aarhus that is set to accommodate 7000 inhabitants and around 12,000 new workplaces once complete.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

JDS and CEBRA teamed up with Dutch studio SeARCH and French architect Louis Paillard to design the buildings, which have been collectively titled Isbjerget, or "The Iceberg", in reference to their jagged white forms.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

These volumes are described by the architects as a series of "peaks and valleys" that are deliberately tapered to create visual corridors between buildings.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

Over 200 apartments are located within the four L-shaped wings of the complex, including two-storey townhouses in the lower levels and penthouses located on the uppermost floors.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

The architects won a competition to design the Isbjerget complex in 2008.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

A number of large developments are in progress in Denmark's docklands, as ADEPT and Luplau & Poulsen are working on another harbour-side housing project in Aarhus, while Tredje Natur and PK3 have redesigned Copenhagen's harbour with a series of artificial islands. See more architecture in Denmark.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

Photography is by Mikkel Frost, apart from where otherwise indicated.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

Above: photograph is by Søren Kjær/Aarhus Luftfoto

Here's some more information from the architects:

Isbjerget (the Iceberg) is located at at a prime location on the outmost harbour front in Aarhus' new quarter 'De Bynære Havnearealer'. Like many other industrial harbour fronts, the former container port of Aarhus is being transformed into a dynamic new neighbourhood. Isbjerget is among the first projects to be finished in an area that on completion will be home to 7,000 inhabitants and provide 12,000 workplaces. Its total site area of 800,000 m2 makes it one of Europe's largest harbour front city developments.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

The inspiration for Isbjerget originated primarily from the site's extraordinary location. Isbjerget is laid out as four L-shaped wings, where the street spaces in between open towards the water. In order to obtain optimal daylight conditions and views over the bay, the building volumes are cut up by jagged lines. The roofs rise and fall into peaks and valleys, which create visual passages that across the individual volumes - like floating icebergs that constantly refract one's gaze. Thus, even the back wing's residents can enjoy the view.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

The varying and spectacular forms that derive from this simple algorithm make it possible to fit a varied range of different dwelling types within the complex – from two-storey 'town houses' and affordable smaller flats to exclusive penthouses in the peaks of the iceberg. The variety of residences with different balconies, shapes and orientations as well as the combination of owner-occupied and rented flats aim at creating socially diverse urban surroundings that form a lively local community: the building complex becomes a neighbourhood instead of a mere series of housing blocks.

Isbjerget by JDS Architects, CEBRA, SeARCH and Louis Paillard

Name: Isbjerget (The Iceberg)
Commission: Private
Type: Lead consultancy
Category: Residential
Client: Pension Danmark

Place: Pier 2, Aarhus, DK
Year: 2008 - 2013
Purpose: 208 flats (both rented and owner-occupied)
Size: 22.000 m2
Budget: DKK 300m / € 40,2m excl. VAT
Prize: Competition 1st prize
Service: Architectural services incl. landscape Architects: CEBRA, JDS, SeARCH and Louis Paillard Collaboration: NCC, Tækker R.I. and Hamiconsult

  • Mat

    Not being a very proud Danish architect right now. I miss interiors and materials 1:1.

  • Colonel Pancake

    911: "Hello, this is 911. What is your emergency?"

    Caller: "Hi. I'm trapped inside an iceberg. I need to be rescued."

    911: "An iceberg? Where is the iceberg?"

    Caller: "Yes. It's on the dock. By the harbor. Actually, THEY are on the dock. There are MANY icebergs. I'm in Iceberg 5D. It's covered in aluminum panels and vulgar triangular windows, made to replicate the design sensibility of second year studio projects "

    911: "I don't follow? It's a house made of iceberg?"

    Caller: "It's a whole neighborhood of icebergs! It's new. It just popped up overnight and now they've filled the complex with people like me who can't afford to live in a house not made out of bad ideas."

    911: "But is the iceberg on fire?"

    Caller: "Unfortunately not."

    911: "What is your emergency? Have you been stabbed? Stay on the line."

    Caller: "No. It's the iceberg. I'm being suffocated in a cloud of vacuous formalism. The stench of architect's ego and his gimmicky kitsch efforts at reinventing public housing are reducing me to a helpless subject of his assumed creative genius. I can barely go on living in such a narcissistic effort in societal isolation. "

    911: "Oh dear God. I understand. You poor soul. We'll send you some Zoloft. Just remain calm, and try to picture yourself in a park, or an actual neighborhood, or some place that isn't so sterile."

    Caller: "Yes, lots of Zoloft. Lots and lots of Zoloft. Bring the Zoloft."

  • It’s rare that the finished building looks better than the one that won the competition.

    • ba1atelier05

      Look better? Ten times less windows makes it look worse, I think.

  • karl

    Danish is the word you are looking for. Sure Julien is Belgian but the office started and is shaped by Denmark. PLOT was Danish, split up it formed two new Danish offices; JDS and BIG.

  • artisan architects

    1 photograph would be enough…

  • sberla

    The only positive aspect is being able to ski on the roofs!! Black slopes!
    Otherwise it’s just horrible, imagine it in 20 years how it will look old fashioned.

  • mil

    I’m not sure if the finished building looks better, too artificial and cold, quite dated. I don’t want to see the interiors, quite complicated if you see a landscape framed in the triangular windows I imagine.

  • Llibsetag

    The photo of the Titanic-sized cruise ship parked next to iceberg building is priceless.

  • Antonia

    Bad copy of Erick van Egeraat’s 2003 competition win for Copenhagen.

  • NotUnderwhelmed

    I might be in the minority but I f**king love it. Nice to see triangles for a change.

    @Colonel Pancake: I bring you a wheelbarrow of Zoloft and you give me your Iceberg, deal?

  • Anton Huggler

    Wish we had these “icebergs” here on Bainbridge Island (Washington State, USA). All some local architects appear capable of doing is “Craftsman Style” single family housing, looking like it was built in the 1920s. Or some apartment monstrosities resembling USSR-Architorture.

    Love the Icebergs!

  • Michael Swanson

    Never mind the buildings, look at the SIZE of that ship!

  • pet

    Never mind the size of the ship, look at the AMOUNT of water surrounding it!