A building situated in the trendy Copenhagen neighborhood of Nørrebro had the ideal location but one problematic detail: lack of green space.
However, thanks to the innovative design by architect Julien De Smedt, that is no longer the case. By replacing the building's confined attic area with three new penthouse apartments, and building a common "backyard" on the roof, residents can now enjoy an airy outdoor space without having to venture very far.
"The project is the outcome of a common condition in Denmark that's not so common in the United States," De Smedt says. "Every family who lives in those apartments owns part of the entire building in proportion to their apartment. That means that when they decided to expand the property with three more penthouses, replacing their attic, they decided that together."
Everyone had to agree on the proposed project and all costs had to be shared. But here's the bright side: The results would be shared, too.
De Smedt admits the process to get everyone on the same page was a challenge. But once he received approval, he got to work on a rather unique design.
He envisioned the spacious alfresco area as four "rooms" that would act as clever continuations of the interiors: a sunny terrace, a grassy hill, an outdoor kitchen, and a playground with a soft floor. Thanks to varying angles and degrees which provide privacy and shade, the spaces feel separate but all are interconnected.
"The idea is that the roof is the extension of the building," De Smedt notes. We created intimacy within the space by using the various levels to make soft and visual boundaries, while also giving people the ability to mingle from one space to the next."
De Smedt says that the overall intention of this project was to give these neighbors a place to act as a community. But from a larger standpoint, it's also a chance to see new avenues of urban design.
"This project is about discussing the future of our cities, [and] the expansion and densification of our urban fabric," he says. "It's a perfect example of how to benefit from the amazing conditions our cities offer. The roof is always where the view is best, where the sun and light is best."