Considering that there’s a multitasking manmade ski slope coming to the industrial hinterlands of Copenhagen, I suppose its only fair that Denmark’s second most populous city, the sprawling port town of Aarhus, gets to have its own audacious work of chill-inducing architecture.
Recently completed as the first chunk of a “socially sustainable” overhaul at the city’s defunct shipping container terminal, the Iceberg apartment complex — Isbjerget
, if you want to impress the locals — dates back more than five years when a team of five international architecture firms won the bid to develop a striking new waterfront apartment complex. Ringing in at over 8,600,000 square feet, the massive harbor redevelopment project known as De Bynære Havnearealer (“City by the Harbour”) will ultimately house 7,000 residents and provide 12,000 new jobs.
Just as massive chunks of freshwater ice don’t form overnight, Isbjerget evolved at an appropriately glacial pace. In fact, the project completely stalled in 2008 when the global economic crisis hit. “The project was put on hold for a year and a half. The client couldn’t carry it any longer. It took a lot of negotiations with a new investor and the city of Aarhus to revive it,” explains Belgium-born Julien de Smedt of JDS Architects to Architizer
, which, just last week, awarded the project with an A+ Jury Award
in the residential mid-rise category. The Isbjerget project was revived when Aarhus applied to be — and was subsequently awarded as — a 2017 European Capital of Culture
along with Pafos, Cyprus.
More recently, Isbjerget won the coveted Best Residential Project award at the MIPIM real estate show
in Cannes, France.
Working alongside CEBRA
(The Netherlands), and Louis Paillard
(France), Copenhagen- and Brussels-based JDS Architects explains
that the team didn't set out to intentionally design an apartment complex that mimicked the jagged organic form of giant floating chunks of ice. Rather, the quartet of tapered, white terrazzo-clad buildings that compose Isbjerget were designed to provide each individual unit with optimum natural lighting and harbor views. Their resemblance to icebergs were more or less a happy coincidence.
The Aarhus Harbour development provides a huge opportunity for Denmark’s second largest city to develop in a socially sustainable way by renovating its old, out-of-use container terminal. The area is meant to become a living city quarter, comprised of a multitude of cultural and social activities, a generous amount of workplaces, and of course, a highly mixed and diverse array of housing types. The Iceberg Project seeks to locate itself within the goals of the overall city development. A third of the project’s 200 apartments will be set aside as affordable rental housing, aimed at integrating a diverse social profile into the new neighborhood development. The project’s main obstacle is the density set up for the development, the desired square meters are in conflict with the specified site height restrictions and the overall intentions of providing ocean views along with good daylight conditions. The Iceberg negotiates this problematic, by remaining far below the maximum heights at points and emerging above the dotted line at other moments. ‘Peaks’ and ‘canyons’ form; eliciting the project’s iconic strength while ensuring that all flats will be supplied with a generous amount of natural lighting and waterfront views.
That being said, this is one of those projects where the photography truly does the talking, so take it away …
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