Copenhagen Gallery

Signalhuset

This versatile building has almost 300 apartments that can be readily combined to form family apartments.

When Signalhuset (The Signal House) was chosen as Ørestad City's next residential project for young people, one of the comments from the City of Copenhagen read as follows: "A refreshing accent between buildings of steel, glass, and stone." The 10-storey building on Arne Jacobsens Allé stands out, with a facade units of different colors behind barred metal screens. Both combine to make the facade change character when visitors see it from different positions as they walk along the canal. The choice of materials was also intended to serve a practical function: to filter out sunlight for the 288 young tenants in the building, which is quite close to the new senior secondary school, Ørestad Gymnasium.

Light facades on concrete legs

Signalhuset got its name when the client heard that a "signal hut" had stood on the site at the time the area was still a military target range. But the name has nothing to do with the choice of colors for the facade, as we might otherwise imagine. The multicolor facade was designed first and foremost to produce a varied and youthful contrast to the two adjacent blocks. At the same time, the architect took inspiration from Le Corbusier's apartment house in Marseilles, Unité d'Habitation, finished in 1952. Like Le Corbusier's building, Signalhuset is partly elevated a story above street level on a series of distinctive concrete slabs that were cast in situ. The goal was "to create a lively contrast between the weight of the concrete and the flickering lightness of the facades," notes Erik Nobel, the architect behind the building.

Four in one

The complex was actually built as 72 fairly spacious, basic apartments, each with a family kitchen, bath, two separate toilets, and four rooms, measuring 12 sq. m. Following a principle that has been termed "four in one," the residents share a living room, bath, and toilets, in a cluster that covers 110 sq. m., instead of living in a traditional dormitory with rooms laid out along corridors. These clusters have the status of "public housing for young people," rented out though a public-housing society to students and to young people with special needs. The rooms are separated by partitions, an arrangement that will make it fairly easy to transform the clusters into family apartments if the demand for housing for young people in Copenhagen should fall some day.

The promenade

Signalhuset lies on with the promenade along the canal on Arne Jacobsens Allé. Because Signalhuset is partly raised above ground, there is an expanded open space where the promenade meets the building. There is room here for a café and common areas, creating a vibrant and attractive milieu that suits young lifestyles. The promenade has direct access to the courtyard, which consequently serves as a semi-public space.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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