The Bispebjerg Bakke estate in Copenhagen is the outcome of a dream for creating a building with an almost sculptural appearance based on good craftsmanship and the best materials.
The project set off in 1997, when Danish sculptor Bjørn Nørgaard and the President of the Copenhagen Association of Artisans (Haandværkerforeningen), Klaus Bonde Larsen, had their first informal talk about their dreams and visions for a different kind of building project. In December 2006, the first residents moved into an estate consisting of 135 exclusive flats distributed over 11 blocks.
The estate at Bispebjerg Bakke is atypical in more than one respect. An artisanal approach is neither the easiest, quickest nor cheapest building method. But one of the primary aims of the construction work was to show that a building of this quality is far more profitable and environmentally sound in the long term, as it is far easier to repair because of its good craftsmanship.
An architectural vision
Like a snake with its head raised, the buildings wind through Copenhagen's Northwest area - on a natural site which reflects both rural stillness and the pulsating life of the city.
Slim columns of red and yellow brick, balconies in shiny ceramic glazes and an attractive verdigris copper roof, twisting their way through the landscape. This is the sight which meets residents and visitors at Bispebjerg Bakke. And in these materials and the love with which they have been crafted one finds an important part of the vision for the place.
Most of the construction is in natural materials and shaped by hand. In the few areas where industrial elements have been used, these have been manufactured in moulds specially created for Bispebjerg Bakke. The ambition of the craftsmanship is also seen in the details, such as the precisely interlaced brickwork and the hand-made copper roof. The houses are faced with quality bricks in two colours: red on one façade and yellow on the other - resembling best practice of the old days in Copenhagen.
Access to the estate is obtained through three gates which attractively tie the blocks together, creating a unique enclave and providing an impression of safety and fellowship. From above, the organic shape of the building can be seen in its full glory. Here it is clear how closely the buildings have adapted themselves to the natural topography of the area.
Flats in organic shapes
Aesthetic and artisanal ambitions have also extended to the interiors, where the stairwell floors have been executed in black terrazzo. All flats are characterised by open plans, and all have at least one balcony or patio. Many of the flats are in two or three storeys, giving a unique spatial impression, further underlined by the absence of right-angled corners. All flats have round, organic shapes, and the windows stretch from floor to ceiling, allowing the light to flow through large parts of the flat during the course of the day.
Leased to residential occupation (135 rented flats in 11 blocks)