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Urban Green: The Mountain Dwellings by Bjarke Ingels Group
Julia Levitt, 20 May 10


While it's easy to apply bamboo flooring and non-toxic paint to almost any project, systemic strategies like passive heating and rainwater catchment may seem limited to specially crafted homes in shady countrysides. But the award-winning Mountain Dwellings, located just outside of Copenhagen, prove that many advanced green building techniques still work beautifully at a large scale in an urban setting.

The Mountain gets its name from its innovative sloping facade. Approached to build both a large parking garage and living spaces, the Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) decided to combine the two, creating a 10-story sloped garage and placing 80 apartments above in stair-stepped fashion. The parking area is mostly concealed, preserving the neighborhood's pedestrian-friendly character. And atop their customized hillside, each home enjoys a penthouse view, a private garden and plenty of fresh air and sunlight.

Architect Ingels calls the project "architectural alchemy" because it not only blends parking and housing, but also combines an essentially suburban form – the house with a garden – with a very contemporary, dense urban environment. Rather than clashing, the components form a symbiotic relationship. The two functions share one material-intensive foundation, and the dense housing lends a feeling of safety to the parking garage at all hours. In turn, the height of the garage allows each of the apartments, even those at ground level, to enjoy optimal conditions for light, views and ventilation – a noteworthy achievement in flat Copenhagen. All apartments have large south-facing windows to maximize daylighting and passive solar energy.

Ingels chose exterior materials carefully to reflect the structure's hybrid nature. The parking side is sheathed in sheet metal that’s embellished with multicolored lights and murals, while the residential side features hardwoods, softened by cascading ivy. Outdoor planters, carefully positioned to maintain privacy between units, double as rainwater collectors, storing water to use for irrigation during the dry season.

In many ways, the Mountain Dwellings are a perfect example of the innovation and creativity necessary to answer today's needs with more sustainable solutions. When the built environment functions efficiently and can make density this appealing, it's easy to imagine a bright green future.


Images via Arch Daily.

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