A grid of thin cross-laminated timber columns frames communal spaces at the centre of this co-living project for senior citizens in Slagelse, Denmark, a collaboration between Danish developer Tetris and Copenhagen architecture practice Sangberg.
Ibihaven, which has been shortlisted in the housing project category of Dezeen Awards 2021, is the first project in a new concept called Agorahaverne, or Agora Gardens, creating sustainable co-housing for seniors with a focus on shared communal space.
Referencing a Greek agora or town square, the blocks containing Ibihaven's 76 apartments are arranged around a covered courtyard containing workshop, exercise, library and lounge spaces in-between a series of small gardens.
The design's community-building aspects have been supported by research carried out in collaboration with Copenhagen University and anthropology consulting firm Maple.
"The atrium garden is a covered 'urban space' which draws nature all the way into the buildings and allows for spontaneous and disorganised meetings between residents and guests," explained Sangberg Architects.
"Research shows an increase in quality of life among residents in community living, and Agorahaverne aims to achieve the same through community events, interests, exercise and good neighbourliness," added developer Tetris.
A zig-zagging roof of corrugated polycarbonate covers the central space, which is overlooked by the patios of the apartments on the ground floor and the first-floor decks of those above.
Access to the apartments is via this central courtyard rather than the perimeter of the building, ensuring that is becomes an active area where residents easily encounter one another.
"It is all on the residents' own terms, and they can partake in activities as much as they see fit," explained the developer. "There is room for everyone in Agorahaverne, and all common rooms are wheelchair accessible."
The apartments, made from prefabricated CLT modules, range from 55 square metres for single occupancy and 77 square metres for couples, each with their own bathroom and kitchen.
All are oriented to be dual aspect, allowing views both into the communal central space and to the outside, with terraces and balconies at either end.
To the west, a small block contains guest rooms and a communal area with a shared kitchen available to all residents, complemented by a kitchen garden in the covered courtyard.
The exterior of the blocks is clad in charred timber planks, contrasted by a pale timber lining on the deep reveals that create covered patio spaces for residents on the ground floor and balconies above.
Many architects and developers are reassessing the provision for retirement and elderly living, with other recent projects including a block of retirement homes in Hampstead, London by Morris + Company for developer Pegasus Life.
Other projects nominated in the housing project category of Dezeen Awards 2021 include Lina Ghotmeh's Stone Garden apartment block in Beirut and Jackson Clements Burrows mass-timber student accommodation in Melbourne.