Architecture

BIG brings high-end design to low cost housing

BIG brings high-end design to ...
Little boxes: Dortheavej Residence comprises 66 home stacked in an attractive checkered pattern
Little boxes: Dortheavej Residence comprises 66 home stacked in an attractive checkered pattern
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Little boxes: Dortheavej Residence comprises 66 home stacked in an attractive checkered pattern
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Little boxes: Dortheavej Residence comprises 66 home stacked in an attractive checkered pattern
In total, the budget for Dortheavej Residence came in at US$9.8 million
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In total, the budget for Dortheavej Residence came in at US$9.8 million
"Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions," says BIG boss Bjarke Ingels
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"Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions," says BIG boss Bjarke Ingels
"Economical constraints often lead to scarcity—at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community," says BIG boss Bjarke Ingels
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"Economical constraints often lead to scarcity—at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community," says BIG boss Bjarke Ingels
Named after its address in Copenhagen, Dortheavej Residence has a floorspace of 6,800 sq m (73,194 sq ft), spread over five floors
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Named after its address in Copenhagen, Dortheavej Residence has a floorspace of 6,800 sq m (73,194 sq ft), spread over five floors
Dortheavej Residence includes 66 homes
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Dortheavej Residence includes 66 homes
The interior of the homes look nicely done, as you'd expect from a firm with BIG's pedigree
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The interior of the homes look nicely done, as you'd expect from a firm with BIG's pedigree
Dortheavej Residence's apartments range in size between 60 - 115 sq m (645 - 1,237 sq ft)
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Dortheavej Residence's apartments range in size between 60 - 115 sq m (645 - 1,237 sq ft)
Dortheavej Residence consists of prefabricated concrete box-shaped apartments stacked atop each other in a checkered pattern
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Dortheavej Residence consists of prefabricated concrete box-shaped apartments stacked atop each other in a checkered pattern
Dortheavej Residence's concrete exterior is clad in wood, which softens its appearance
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Dortheavej Residence's concrete exterior is clad in wood, which softens its appearance
Dortheavej Residence is arranged into a long meandering wall that curves around a nearby courtyard
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Dortheavej Residence is arranged into a long meandering wall that curves around a nearby courtyard
In total, the budget for Dortheavej Residence came in at US$9.8 million
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In total, the budget for Dortheavej Residence came in at US$9.8 million
Each of Dortheavej Residence's homes boast their own balcony 
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Each of Dortheavej Residence's homes boast their own balcony 
Dortheavej Residence is arranged into a long meandering wall that curves around a nearby courtyard
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Dortheavej Residence is arranged into a long meandering wall that curves around a nearby courtyard

Well-made low-cost housing is a tough nut to crack, but high-profile Danish firm Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) recently took on the challenge for a new project in its home country. Commissioned by a non-profit affordable housing association, Dortheavej Residence offers architect-designed homes to people on a low income.

Named after its address in Copenhagen, Dortheavej Residence has a floorspace of 6,800 sq m (73,194 sq ft), spread over five floors and 66 homes. While not as eye-catching as, say, BIG's Via 57 West – it couldn't be, really, because of the budgetary constraints inherent in a job like this – it consists of prefabricated concrete box-shaped apartments stacked in a checkered pattern, and is certainly easy on the eye.

The building is arranged into a long meandering wall that curves around a nearby courtyard and is clad in timber planks, softening the look of the concrete shells.

"Affordable housing is an architectural challenge due to the necessary budget restrictions," says BIG boss Bjarke Ingels. "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... Economical constraints often lead to scarcity – at Dortheavej, we have managed to create added value for the individual as well as the community."

Dortheavej Residence includes 66 homes
Dortheavej Residence includes 66 homes

The interior of the homes look nicely done, as you'd expect from a firm with BIG's pedigree, and boast large floor-to-ceiling glazing that maximizes natural daylight inside. An interior palette of wood and concrete flatters the simple layout of the spaces, and the apartments range in size between 60 - 115 sq m (645 - 1,237 sq ft), with a maximum ceiling height of 3.5 m (11.5 ft). Each home has a small outdoor terrace, too.

In total, the budget for Dortheavej Residence came in at US$9.8 million.

Source: BIG

5 comments
fb36
IMHO, low cost housing solution of the future is (for the whole world!), buildings made of small/standard units! Imagine, N by M grid/matrix of (shipping container) houses! Imagine each building is like a grid/matrix of empty slots! So each housing unit easy to insert/take-out anytime! (Each big building could also have its own automated system that inserts/takes-out any housing unit, anytime!)
Rex E Doran
$150,000 USD does not seem to be low cost housing. I live in the US and that amount will buy a single family home on a 1/4 acre property. Substantially larger than 1000 square feet.
Wombat56
Rex E Doran: Yes, but will it be anywhere near where you work and want to live or will you have a 10 hour weekly commute to your city job?
ljaques
$150k isn't low cost housing to me. And if anyone ever says "shipping container housing" again, I'm going to puke. Why is anyone wasting height? 12' ceilings are horrible to live with, and people concentrate in the low-ceilinged kitchens and bedrooms because of that fact. See Sarah Susanka's _Not So Big House_ book/study. How can marketers still be pushing it, anyway? I like the overall look of the place, and the thick walls appear to have plenty of insulation. But I question the use of entire walls of glass, which cost at least half the insulative value of the apartment. Not too dippy about the ugly concrete hallways and ceilings, either. "Rave new industrial look" sucks. Give it a C- overall.
Trylon
@Rex and ljaques You guys don't know anything about construction costs. In major US cities, general contractors would laugh at you if you offered $150,000 per unit to build affordable housing. In California, it can cost four times that much. Remember, the cost of apartments is amortized over many years. In Copenhagen, the average rent for a one-bedroom is over $1000, and the project isn't all one-bedrooms. So these would break even in fewer than 150 months, or a little over a decade at worst. Although I have to say that the BIG website is terrible to navigate and hard to read, with low contrast between text and background.