The Mountain Dwellings residential neighbourhood is located in the city of Orestad on the south side of Copenhagen, Denmark.
Also known as VM Bjerget, the residential complex provides proximity to the bustling city life in the centre of Copenhagen, along with the serenity found in suburban living.
Danish oil company Hoepfner developed the project with an investment of €52.3m ($63m). Construction began in January 2006 and was completed in August 2008.
The project consists of two-thirds parking and one-third living, accommodating 40,000 residents. Instead of building separate structures for parking and housing side by side, both functions were combined into a single, symbiotic building.
The community connects two older housing areas, one built in the late 1950s and the other in the late 1980s. The new developments in the area also include retail, office and entertainment spaces.
Mountain Dwellings’ design and features
The Mountain Dwellings building is the second generation of VM housing.
The design implies that the parking space could function as the foundation for the homes, resembling a concrete hillside with housing arranged in a thin layer descending from the first to the 11th floor.
The 1.5-hectare (3.7 acres) building features 700m² of office space, 300m² of retail area, 80 apartment blocks and 478 parking areas. The 80 units vary in size, ranging from 80m² to 150m².
The 200m-long and 80m-wide building is designed to resemble a sloping mountain, featuring metal stairs over the parking area that connect the hallways to the apartments. A ski lift-style inclined lift moving along the garage wall connects the hallways.
The building features a small garden, terrace and L-shaped floor plan, with hallways coloured according to the hues of the floor and main space on both interiors and exteriors.
The facades facing the gardens are clad in untreated wood, enhancing the organic and calm feel of the building’s apartments.
The design places a high priority on sustainable development, incorporating elements such as natural daylight and ventilation, a low-maintenance timber facade and rainwater collection for gardening.
Roof garden living
The parking area is connected to the street and the homes have roof gardens facing the sun, stunning views and parking on the tenth floor.
The Mountain Dwellings appear as a suburban residential neighbourhood of garden homes flowing over an 11-storey building – suburban living with urban density.
The roof gardens consist of a terrace and a garden with plants changing character according to the changing seasons. The building has a huge irrigation system, which maintains the roof gardens.
The only thing that separates the apartment and the garden is a glass facade with sliding doors to provide light and fresh air.
The residents are the first in Orestaden to have the possibility of parking directly outside their homes. In some places, the ceiling is as high as 16m, giving the impression of a cathedral-like space.
Parking in Mountain Dwellings
The Mountain Dwellings building features perforated aluminium plates covering the north and west facades, allowing air and light into the parking area. The holes in the facade form a large reproduction of Mount Everest.
In daylight, the holes in the aluminium plates appear black on the bright aluminium, and the resulting picture resembles an image of Everest.
At night, the facade is lit from the inside, appearing as a photo negative in different colours. The interiors of the parking area are decorated with wildlife murals by French artist Victor Ash, making the space suitable for parties and events.
In 2008, the building received the WAF Award for Best Residential Building, the Træprisen Danish Wood Award and the Forum AID Award.
In 2009, the building secured the ULI Award for Excellence, the Chicago Athenaeum International Architecture Award and the MIPIM Award for the Best Residential Building.
In 2011, the building won the Jørn Utzon Statuette Concrete Element Award.
The Mountain Dwellings building is designed by Danish architectural practice Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) in collaboration with JDS Architects.
Construction of the building was undertaken by DS Elcobyg, a construction company.
Engineering companies Moe & Brodsgaard and Freddy Madsen Radgivende Ingeniorer are also involved in the project.