Copenhagen Gallery


Part of the Sømærk estate rests on piles in the water; children have their own swimming baths in the harbour; and the estate is a mixed ownership estate with both owners and tenants.

On the Teglholmen island in Sydhavnen (the Southern Harbour), a new housing area has taken shape in the innermost part of the harbour. Called Sømærk, which refers to a navigation mark, the estate comprises five blocks of housing with underground car parks and a communal building. This may sound quite ordinary, but there is nothing ordinary about the buildings, which rest on piles in the harbour basins, where there are also swimming baths for children. Furthermore, the estate is a mix of owner-occupied and rented apartments.

Water, water everywhere

Vandkunsten Architects, who designed Sømærk, wanted to give residents a strong sense of the surrounding water and harbour. The housing units are not built at the water, but on the water, which means that there is a flickering reflection of the water on the ceilings of many of the units.

Generally, residents have to be prepared to live very close to the water. Water levels in the harbour fluctuate a great deal, and the wooden deck that runs along the blocks of buildings will inevitably be flooded from time to time. Between the blocks there are basins where children and others who are fond of water can bathe, weather permitting. Under the piles that keep Sømærk above water there are tables where residents can gut fish they have caught in the harbour.

Mixed ownership

Residents in Sømærk may either own or rent their homes. Out of its 120 units, half are for owners, the rest for tenants. More specifically, the first block of units on the waterfront contains owner-occupied units, the next contains rented dwellings, and the two types of units alternate block by block for the five blocks.

The communal building is sited in front of the outermost block of housing units and is surrounded by water. The architects hope it will be used actively by all Sømærk residents.

No visible cars, please!

The underground car park has not only been made to make things easier for residents: in the local plan for the area, the local authority has deliberately sought to avoid large parking areas in front of the residential facilities - simply to avoid creating an undesirable suburban feel.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014