Beautiful yet affordable design-led apartments have been quickly completed in the northwest part of Copenhagen thanks to the power of prefabrication. Designed by Bjarke Ingels Group as part of the non-profit affordable housing association Lejerbo’s “Homes for All” mission, the Dortheavej Residence is a 6,800-square-meter curved building with 66 new homes for low-income clients. Clad in long wooden planks and stacked to create an attractive checkered pattern, the apartment modules feature soaring 3.5-meter ceilings and full-height glazing to let in plenty of natural light.

timber and glass apartment structure

Completed on a strict affordable housing budget of $9.8 million, the five-story Dortheavej Residence consists of apartments that range in size from 60 to 115 square meters. To keep costs low, a simple materials palette of concrete and wood was used. Since the new building is located in one of the city’s most diverse, low-income neighborhoods, the architects wanted to stress transparency and community. The full-height glazing, balconies and public spaces help achieve those goals.

dining table near a glass wall

dining table near a glass wall and white kitchen in background

“Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions,” said Bjarke Ingels, founding partner at BIG. “We have attempted to mobilize modular construction with modest materials to create generous living spaces at the urban as well as the residential scale. The prefabricated elements are stacked in a way that allows every second module an extra meter of room height, making the kitchen-living areas unusually spacious. By gently adjusting the modules, the living areas open more toward the courtyard while curving the linear block away from the street to expand the sidewalk into a public square. Economical constraints often lead to scarcity — at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community.”

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bed facing a glass wall

timber and glass apartments with balconies

The curve of the building frames a street-facing public plaza on the south side that will be landscaped with cherry trees and bicycle parking spaces, while an enclosed green courtyard for recreational activities is located on the northern end.

+ Bjarke Ingels Group

Images by Rasmus Hjortshoj

curving timber modular structure at dusk