One of Grundfos Dormitory’s remarkable characteristics is providing student housings in the heart of Aarhus’ new harbour front development – that is, a low cost residential building on a very attractive site. Like many other industrial harbour fronts, the former container port of Aarhus is being transformed into a dynamic new neighborhood. Grundfos Dormitory is one of the first finished projects in the area that on completion will be home to 7,000 inhabitants and provide 12,000 workplaces. Its total site area amounts to 800,000 m2 making this development one of Europe’s largest harbour front city developments.
A distinctive skyline
To reinforce the primary purpose of the building – to provide accommodations for students during their time of study – the project works with vertical stripes, both visually and organisationally. From afar the stripes act as a metaphor for books and make the building appear as a group of books on a shelf, while close up they resemble a condensed micro Manhattan with bundles of small towers. Each ‘tower’ is treated differently both inside and out with different materials and window openings. This creates a variety of living accommodation, suitable for singles, couples or friends living together.
The ‘towers’ are designed to be different heights in order to incorporate technical facilities on the roof, accentuate the main entrance and provide a roof top terrace with a view over the waterfront and the city. These purely functional considerations end up giving this micro Manhattan a unique skyline of its own. The ‘towers’ are placed on the perimeter of the site establishing an open inner space that uses a simple design strategy to create an atrium with attractive functional as well as spectacular aesthetic qualities.
The infinite atrium
The individual apartments are reached from balconies, which are encasing the 12-story atrium with mirror clad balcony fronts. The mirrors are transforming the sense of space by expanding the relatively narrow atrium with endless kaleidoscopic reflections of itself and the people moving through it. The mirrors also contribute to a more activating common space by supporting the social aspects of a dormitory building. The reflections assist orientation across several floors from one location allowing you to see people or activities that are located directly beneath or above you. In a similar way, the colours in the atrium enhance orientation across floors. As an equivalent to the façade’s division into towers, the graphic and apartment door colours are used to form vertical bands of red, orange and yellow from the bottom to the top floor. Besides being a low cost method to create striking spatial features, the mirrors also reduce the need for artificial lighting by reflecting a maximum of daylight from the large skylight all the way down to the lobby.
A full-scale building laboratory
The Grundfos Dormitory is not only home to approx. 200 students – it also serves as a unique research facility for researchers from Aarhus University. The structure includes Denmark’s most comprehensive program for measuring and controlling a building’s energy consumption. The research project under the title “Virtuel Powerplan for Smart Grid Ready Buildings” aims at developing an intelligent control system, which provides an optimal indoor climate with minimum energy consumption. The system monitors and registers temperature, humidity levels, CO2 emissions and flow of water, heat and electricity every six seconds around the clock individually for each of the 159 apartments.
In addition, the building shall be able to receive weather forecasts about temperature, wind and sunlight conditions in order to automatically regulate its collective heating and ventilation needs. Ultimatly, the researchers aim at designing intelligent buildings, which respond to and even predict user needs based on supply and demand – e.g. regulating energy consumption behaviour compared to the current supply of electricity from renewable sources.Location: Grethe Løchtes Gade, Aarhus, Denmark Architect: CEBRA
Project name: Grundfos Dormitory
Type: Turnkey contract
Client: Engineering College of Aarhus
Year: 2010 – 2012, built
Purpose: 159 housing units for students
Size: 6.000 m2
Service: Architectural services
Energy class: Low energy class standard 2015
Collaboration: Sjælsø, Niras