The Wedge

How do you create an attractive residential environment for students on a wedge-shaped property with green qualities, surrounded by a highway on one side and a railroad on the other side? Such was the challenge for a private developer who wanted to build 157 student residential units in Aarhus, Denmark. By exploring the context and the possibilities of the task, we developed a project proposal entitled the Wedge (in Danish 'Kilen') for a lean, wedge-shaped building that rises above the traffic and strengthens the sense of community between the students.
The residential units are distributed like a vertical youth city around a glass-covered yard with ample light. Meanwhile, a landscape of shared balconies surrounds the building, culminating on the 12th floor. The sense of community is a focal point for the building design. On the inside, it is joined together by the lighted yard and on the outside by the balconies, which cut through the façade like a deep, diagonal cross-section, opening up the building in three storeys toward the city. The diagonal cut is carefully designed according to the movement of the sun during the day, thus creating great opportunities for spending time on the balconies from early in the morning until late in the evening. Add to this the golden, reflecting loft sections that light up the building in the skyline after dark.
Raising the youth residential units in height creates a minimal footprint on the property, the aim being to create the greatest possible space for the green surroundings. Furthermore, the entrance and the parking lot are located on the north and shady side of the building, thus creating sunny, green outdoor space on the south side. A green park surrounds the building, adding a recreational quality to the property and a pleasant atmosphere. In addition, an abundance of tall trees serves as a natural barrier against the noise from the railroad and the highway.