At Nørrebro in Copenhagen, a modular housing concept for the homeless combined with urban gardens is currently on its way. The Danish architectural firms WE Architecture, Erik Juul and UBA studio are behind the well-intentioned non-profit project that is being built for the NGO Vendepunktet (The Turning Point).
“We won’t earn money on the project, neither will Vendepunktet. You can say that we are doing it because we feel it’s the right project in the right place and it’s something we believe in. The whole upside of the project is the positive social side effects it can create for young homeless people in Nørrebro as well as for people considering having their own urban garden.”
When Marc Jay, Partner and Architect at WE Architecture, describes his vision for a currently empty building plot in between the vivid blocks of Copenhagen’s Nørrebro quarter, there’s plenty to say that it will give a lot back to Copenhageners. Especially the homeless ones. Here, housing and green gardens are planned that will create a platform for a meeting place between locals and the homeless that can present a pathway to a new beginning.
“We want to house young homeless and disadvantaged people in a container village operated as a non-profit project with workshops, vegetable growing, a café and other activities together with community involvement in Nørrebro. The beautiful architectural framework will be incorporated as a healing bridge back to the community, where on-site physicians, nurses, psychologists and other relevant specialists are ready to lend a hand,” says Vendepunktet’s founder Bjarne Ove Nielsen.
The proposal will provide the neighbourhood with a new social meeting place, a space containing urban gardens and semi-public activities. Creating a platform where people can meet and interact around the green gardens is one of the main goals, Marc Jay explains.
GIF by WE Architecture
Designed for disassembly
With a site-specific urban green wall facing the street, the project will make a positive visual contribution to the neighbourhood – a landmark that people will relate to social and environmental sustainable initiatives. The visibility aims to raise awareness of the initiative, specifically in terms of attracting new users to the neighbourhood, but also raising awareness with potential volunteers and current residents.
“The residents will be able to take care of people’s plants at the roof-top urban garden as well as at the built-in urban farming walls.”
The concept for the temporary design is based on a very simple scaffolding net and containers, with the ability to add new features and make changes according to new needs that may arise in the future. At the end of the project duration, the project will be dismantled and re-housed at a new site that needs help in the future.
According to the rules and principles of Vendepunktet, people helped by the NGO must have a wish to get out of homelessness. The housing project is therefore built on a concept of ‘help to self-help’. The selected people can stay there for 6 to 12 months, and can be educated and re-socialised. Their needs must be identified and they should have a genuine desire to improve their situation.
“It will be open to anyone who wants to help support the growth, value and joy of Nørrebro and Copenhagen, and will provide a new, green and living story at this plot – in respect of everything that has been going on before and as a pathway to a new future,” ends Bjarne Ove Nielsen from Vendepunktet.
Name: Jagtvej 69 – Vendepunktet
Type: Temporary homeless housing and urban gardens
Size: 972 m2
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
Architects: WE Architecture
Collaborators: UBA studio, Erik Juul