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."

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

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