before COBE and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects’ (VLA) joint proposal for a devel- opment by NCC for the empty plot was accepted in 2011.

Five previously-submitted bids were all rejected by local interest organisations and the city due to excessive height, and deviation from Copenhagen’s historical and aesthetic contexts. Following additional stagnation caused by the 2008 financial crisis, the highly politicised site was an “architectural battleground,” according to COBE – and this context would later inform the sensitive and strategic approach it would adopt for this project. The finished project combines three five-storey mixed-use buildings, together housing 105 high-end residential units, each with its own distinct form. The buildings are skirted at ground-level by a range of retail and food outlets, their high-end nature befitting the neighbourhood. The plot is sandwiched between the water and Strandgade, a historic and picturesque street running along the harbour front. A basin protrudes into the plot from the harbour towards Strandgade to form one side of the plot, framed on two sides by attractive 18th

century warehouses. The one to the north-east was Noma’s

former home, now housing a new eatery with the world-beating restaurant having recently relocated to a site not far away.


If the design was to be successful, the approach had to be “hyper-democratic and contextual,” says COBE project architect Nikolaj Harving. Well aware of previous failures further down the harbour, such as “office buildings in the 1980s with no public access,” plus the more recent succession of rejected proposals for this site, COBE and VLA’s first priority was to fully consult local stakeholders and build a collective vision for the project. The two firms working in partnership conducted a series of workshops to open the design process to the public. “We involved them, and listened to

them,” Harving says, “they said ‘no’ if it was too high, or the wrong material,” adding “for some of them, the only thing they had an opinion about was that it was too many square metres.”

This provided the architects with the opportunity not only to inform the public as widely as possible, but also to explain the rationale behind their decisions. “It was very much about involving everybody,” Harving explains, “but also to act as

Rather than conjuring up an entirely new typology for the buildings,

inspiration was taken from the warehouses scattered along the harbour



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