Facade of Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal

Tegnestuen Lokal adds plant-filled blocks to "ugliest building in the neighbourhood"

Danish studio Tegnestuen Lokal has transformed an apartment block in Copenhagen, by replacing its austere concrete exterior with angular, plant-filled blocks.

Built in the 1960s, the six-storey slab block in Frederiksberg featured a typically rationalist facade fronted by linear balcony walkways. Tegnestuen Lokal's revamp brings more three-dimensionality to the facade, by replacing the long lengths of concrete with a series of glazed blocks.

Exterior of Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
The renovation adds 50 glazed blocks to the facade

As well as making the building more attractive, these blocks give residents an outdoor space where they can sit and observe the street below, or converse with their neighbours.

They also create space for growing plants, which is why the architects gave the project the name Ørsted Gardens.

Facade blocks of Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
The blocks gives each residence a new balcony

"Ørsted Gardens transformed a dilapidated building that was often referred to as the ugliest in its neighbourhood," said Christopher Ketil Dehn Carlsen, co-founder of Tegnestuen Lokal.

"The building was sleek and unwelcoming, and didn't age with a modicum of grace," he explained. "Our aim was to create a new social space to bolster the social coherence in the building."

Balcony interior on Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
The spaces are open to the access walkway

Ørsted Gardens is shortlisted for Dezeen Awards 2021, in the residential rebirth project category.

The design maintains the building's original access walkways; the glass blocks simply extend the space outwards.

These blocks make it clear which space belongs to which residence. At the same time, the spaces are open to encourage more neighbourly interactions.

Balcony interior for Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
The aim is to encourage social interaction between neighbours

"The new facade shelters the apartments from the heavy traffic noise, and it has transformed the way residents live in the building," said Carlsen.

"Front doors are now open and kids roam the new space, creating a lively urban space on the side of the building rather than the bleak access way that was there before."

Planting areas in Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
Planting areas are integrated into the architecture

The structure is framed by steel and infilled with glass panels that can be opened or closed, making the space more usable at different times of the year.

Wooden louvres shade some of the glazing.

Residents are given the freedom to cultivate their own mini gardens. Some of the planting areas feature climbing plants that are spreading over the wooden louvres.

The renovation also included overhauling the commercial space on the building's ground floor, replacing the petrol station with a Netto supermarket.

Balcony of Ørsted Gardens by Tegnestuen Lokal
Wooden louvres shade some of the glazing

Carlsen believes the approach could be replicated on many other 1960s housing blocks of the same style.

"There are many examples of buildings where open access ways are covered, but usually the renovations don’t take into account the antisocial nature of the original architecture," he said.

Building before renovation
Before renovation, the block was fronted by bands of concrete

"With Ørsted Gardens we proposed a radical transformation that wouldn’t just prolong the challenges with the typology but would rather improve it," he continued.

"The end result demanded a high investment from residents and all implicated, but the increased value and the improved social life in the building has far surpassed it."

The photography is by Hampus Berndtson.


Project credits

Architect: Tegnestuen Lokal
Design team: Christopher Carlsen, Morten Bang
Client: Salling Group
Engineering: Henneby Nielsen
Consultants: CEJ
Contractor: Amstrup & Baggesen

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