Along with my regular work at Annabel Brown Architect, we also participate in competitions to keep our creative minds fresh. A competition we entered in 2023 was for a Copenhagen based social housing entry, “neighbourhoods for Generations.” The brief was open ended, calling for applicants from across industries l to publish ideas on how to improve connection between residents within Copenhagens social housing and the surrounding city, along with improving inter-generational and inter-cultural relations. Essentially helping to re-establish a greater sense of community and fight isolation. Part of the brief was to use one of the case studies in Copenhagen as a ‘setting’ for the idea.
With the case study, we identified that there were large areas of parking for the housing blocks. The parking lots occupied a substantial amount of space, this created a ‘barrier’ between the housing blocks and the rest of the city. Our idea was to use the space above the car parks, to create ‘Parks’, essentially using a modular construction system to build over the car parks.
The use of the space would be mixed, parts of it dedicated to open play space, rest stops, bike parking etc, others could be used by residents for farming, workshops etc. This is also a great opportunity to increase connectivity with more bike lanes, along with adding biodiversity through green space. Interactions between Generations and cultures could increase through mixed use space. Children playing next to others growing veggies can facilitate social interaction.
A unique element of car parks is that they act as a “portal”. You leave your flat to go to work, you go to the car park, get into your car and leave. Eventually you return to the car park and get home. Cars have meant a huge decrease in organic social interactions vs walking or cycling as you are in your own bubble, but there is a opportunity to return some of this social interaction at the point of the car park, as this is where there is a high chance of random encounters with residents etc, by creating these spaces above the car park, it means activity is brought around this “portal” and random interactions have a space to flourish.
The construction system would use a series of “modules” that fit out a 3×3 parking grid, meaning the design is easily scalable to fit the needs of individual housing blocks and can be expanded/changed over time.
The core concept is creating space, the activities that occur within these spaces can be as varied as the residents that use them. Most importantly the system is flexible, meaning as time goes on, as needs change, the system can be easily adapted to change with the times.
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