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spiral-shaping housing development in Aarhus by BIG

BIG unveils spiral-shaped modular housing development in Aarhus

Architecture studio BIG has completed six curved housing blocks that combine to form a spiral shape at the Sneglehusene development near Aarhus, Denmark.

Containing 93 homes, the Sneglehusene housing for developer Taekker Group forms part of the Nye neighbourhood to the north of Aarhus and was created using a modular system developed by BIG and contractor CJ Group.

BIG creates spiral-shaped Sneglehusene housing development in Aarhus
BIG has unveiled the spiral-shaped Sneglehusene housing development in Aarhus

The six curved blocks, which vary from one to four stories, spiral out from a central park designed by BIG Landscape surrounding a small pond.

The overall design for Sneglehusene, which translates as the snail houses in reference to the developments' spiral form, was based on the Dortheavej Residence housing that BIG and CJ Group previously created in Copenhagen.

Modular Sneglehusene housing in Denmark by BIG
Sneglehusene was made using modular construction methods

"As an architect, one typically only gets to build a house once," said BIG partner Finn Noerkjaer. "With the Sneglehusene, we were given the opportunity to evolve our housing concept from an earlier project, while also developing the buildings' own identity."

"Our modular concept has made it possible for us to maintain simplicity in the execution despite the construction's complexity, and we have been allowed to improve the concept with all our experience," he continued.

Modular housing near Aarhus
The blocks step down to create terraces

The development has a similar aesthetic to the Copenhagen housing, with the blocks broken up to create a "porous wall".

As at Dortheavej Residence, a distinctive checked pattern was created by stacking two modular structures with the indented modules having 3.5-metre high ceilings and the protruding ones 2.5-metre high ceilings.

A series of balconies were placed within the indented spaces, while the blocks step down at the ends to create larger outdoor terraces.

The development contains townhouses, multi-bedroom apartments and studios that range in scale from 50 square metres to 150 square metres.

Concrete ceiling in Danish apartment
The concrete structure is exposed in the ceilings

The building's concrete structure was clad with timber boards on its facades to express the modular pattern, while it was exposed in the apartment's ceilings.

All of the homes are dual-aspect with windows facing inward and outward, while the studio aimed to open up interior spaces with minimal internal walls.

Bedroom with large window in Sneglehusene
The apartments are all dual aspect

Founded by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels in 2005, BIG is one of the world's best-known architecture studios. It has recently completed a cantilevering housing block over IJ lake in Amsterdam and is developing BIG and Samoo unveil design for a "flood-proof" floating city Oceanix Busan.

Ingels is also the co-founder of a housing startup named Nabr that intends to revolutionise the sector. "Architects or designers are, in a way, the last ones to get involved [in housing] so it becomes very hard to be part of a more fundamental transformation of the industry," Ingels told Dezeen in an exclusive interview.

"This is basically an attempt to apply design, not just to the final product, but to the entire process that delivers our homes."

The photography is by Rasmus Hjortshoj.

Project credits:

Architect: BIG
Client: Tækker Group
Collaborators: Mads Gjesing, Cj Group, Spangenberg & Madsen, COWI
Partners-in-charge: Bjarke Ingels, Finn Nørkjær, David Zahle
Project manager: Joos Jerne
Design lead: Nanna Gyldholm Møller, Høgni Laksafoss
BIG Landscape: Alexa Haraga, Anders Fønss, Camille Inès Sophie Breuil, Giulia Genovese, Lasse Ryberg Hansen, Ulla Hornsyld
BIG Engineering: Andrea Hektor, Andreas Bak, Andrew Robert Coward, Bjarke Koch-Ørvad, Cecilie Søs Brandt-Olsen, Duncan Horswill, Ewa Zapiec, Ivaylo Ignatov, Jesper Kanstrup Petersen, Jonathan Otis Navntoft Russell, Kaoan Hengles De Lima, Kristoffer Negendahl, Mikki Seidenschnur, Peter Andres Ehvert, Timo Harboe Nielsen, Tristan Robert Harvey
Team: Norbert Nadudvari, Wiktor Kacprzak, Axelle Bosman, Liliane Wenner, Christine Mulvad, Joanna Jakubowska, Johanna Schneider, Richard Garth Howis, Xinying Zhang, Mikkel M. R. Stubgaard, Katarina Mácková, Sean Edmund Deering, Søren Aagaard, Pawel Bussold, Mantas Povilaika, Espen Vik, Lucian Tofan, Jesper Bo Jensen

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Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG
Sneglehusene housing in Aarhus by BIG