Copenhagen-based architecture firm Tegnestuen LOKAL has radically reinvented one of the “ugliest” buildings in a Frederiksberg neighborhood with an innovative facade renovation that brings residents closer to nature and each other. The project — dubbed Ørsted Gardens — is the transformation of a 1960s concrete building that was notorious for its unwelcoming and dilapidated appearance. Instead of a simple facade renovation, the architects decided to dramatically alter the building’s appearance by inserting a series of triangular glass bays that serve as semi-private decks with 50 small gardens. 

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modern glass building near historic buildings

What began as an ordinary facade renovation aimed at protecting the concrete balconies from water damage gradually morphed into a complete overhaul of the front facade during the design process. Instead of simply reinforcing the open balconies with glazed panels, the architects inserted triangular glass bays to create new semi-private social spaces that would encourage random meetings between residents. The addition of operable glass panels also allow the balconies to be comfortably used from spring to fall and helps to buffer the apartments from the noise of the heavily trafficked road in front of the building.

Related: HHF Architects’ renovated a group of crumbling buildings to help revitalize an entire neighborhood

angled glass walls on a building
close-up of balconies and angled glass walls

“A central aspect of the renovation is the notion that the building should contribute positively to the experience of the street,” the architects said. “The monotonous façade of the past is broken up into smaller geometric entities creating a sense of rhythm as you pass the building signaling a residential building, comprised of many families and individuals.”

people sitting at table beside a glass wall
balcony filled with plants

In addition to introducing an attractive, geometric facade that can be appreciated from both inside the building and the street level, the architects have also infused the apartments with greenery. Each glass bay accommodates a small garden that grows across the glazed facade to blur the boundaries between inside and out. Residents are also free to use their semi-private garden plots to grow decorative plants or vegetables.

+ Tegnestuen LOKAL

Photography by Hampus Berndtson via Tegnestuen LOKAL