The Mountain Dwellings, Denmark


The Mountain Dwellings, also known as VM Bjerget, is a contemporary housing building in Ørestad city of Copenhagen, Denmark. The programme for this scheme was two-thirds parking and one-third living, designed by Danish architectural practice, Bjarke Ingels Group.

The concept was to turn the parking area into a base upon which terraced housing could be placed – resembling a concrete hillside covered by a thin layer of housing, cascading from the 11th floor to the street edge. Rather than having two separate buildings adjacent to one other – a parking and a housing block – the two functions are merged into a symbiotic relationship. The total area of the estimated €52.3m project was 33,000m². Construction of the Mountain Dwellings began in August 2006 and was complete in May 2008.

Mountain Dwellings design and architecture

The building is designed as a sloping mountain with a set of metal stairs over the parking area that provide access to the hallways of the apartments. A ski lift-style inclined lift moving along the garage wall connects the hallways.

All the apartments have a small garden, a terrace and an an L-shaped floor plan. The building won several prizes for its design – the ULI Award for Excellence and the MIPIM Award for the Best Residential Building in 2009; the WAF Award for Best Residential Building and the Forum AID Award in 2008.

"The Mountain Dwellings appear as a suburban residential neighbourhood of garden homes."

The hallways are coloured according to the hues of the floor and main space on both interiors and exteriors. The façades facing the gardens are clad in untreated wood, which enhances the organic and calm feel of the building apartments.

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 a ten-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 façade with sliding doors to provide light and fresh air.

The residents of the 80 apartments are the first in Ørestaden to have the possibility of parking directly outside their homes. The 80 units range in size from 80m² to 150m². The parking area contains up to 480 parking spots. In some places the ceiling is as high as 16m, which gives the impression of a cathedral-like space.

Picturesque parking

The north and west façades are covered by perforated aluminium plates, which allow air and light in to the parking area. The holes in the façade form a huge reproduction of Mount Everest.

In daylight, the holes in the aluminium plates appear black on the bright aluminium, and the resulting picture resembles a roughly rasterised image of Everest.

"The Mountain Dwellings scheme in Ørestad is two-thirds parking and one-third living."

At night the Mountain Dwellings façade is lit from the inside and appears as a photo negative in different colours as each of the floors in the parking area is lit in a different colour. The interiors of the parking area are decorated with wildlife murals designed by French artist Victor Ash, so that the space can also be used for parties and events.

The Mountain Dwellings building is located in Ørestad city and offers the best of two worlds: closeness to the hectic city life in the centre of Copenhagen, and the tranquillity characteristic of suburban life.

These are the second generation of VM housing, and are constructed adjacent to a development completed by BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) in 2006.