Copenhagen brands itself as a "city of cyclists", but has no building stock to reflect this. The centre has buildings designed for an age when everyone walked and the suburbs have houses to drive to, while designers of redevelopment districts assume that people would rather take trains to the city. In other words, their bicycle planning stops at the curb.
Door-to-door trips from Ørestad to many addresses in the city can be faster by bike than by train. So let's imagine a housing development designed to leave and returned to by bike, rather than by car or on foot.
The conceptual stating point is conventional "slab block" with double-loaded interior corridors. Lower levels have small single-aspect apartments facing East or West to capture sun daily, even in Winter. Large bayonet apartments on the upper three levels make efficient use of the corridor.
The slab block is tilted by 3 degrees (1 in 20) so the corridors are now ramps and the apartments are staggered.
The first floor is extended ("slipped") until the ramped corridor reaches the ground.
Ditto for floor level two.
And the same again for the bayonet levels—with one slight addition:
their corridor needs to extend a bit further.
A conventional slab block (left) shortens the walking distance to lifts. Also lifts are used to go up and down. What we call a "slip-block" (right) encourages people to leave on their bikes by giving them gravity assistance from the moment they wheel out of their doors. Since they would only be used (by some) to go up, lifts are provided at the ends of blocks only. Typically, one large lift can serve a whole building.
Pedestrian paths at the edge of the ramped access-corridors are textured to deter cyclists, while the bike path at the centre is cambered to deter walkers. Visitor bike parking protects each from the other.
Even the smallest apartments have a bike space within the secure confines of the dwelling, placed to intercept residents as they leave home.
We provide indoor bike parking spaces to match the anticipated number of beds. You're looking at "start of trip" bike parking facilities, not in a basement, not on the street, but at the point from which trips really start: inside of the home.
Here is a plan of a full-width bayonet flat on the top level (the level with bike parking opening off of the corridor is one floor below).
Every apartment has sunlight and a view over a raised pedestrian concourse spanning a sunken bike-transport layer.
The ground plane treatment is inspired by the BMX park, where riders speed across channels and come to a stop on the crests, all without braking and with minimal pedalling effort.
From left: the artificial raised ground plane for pedestrians; view from apartments; view from a bicycling channel.
Here we are looking up from the bicycling channel to a ground level retail location. Commercial tenancies occur every 60meters and correspond to the bases of the ramped access corridors.
Below the pedestrian concourses riders are protected from rain and have been given gravity assistance to get up to speed upon entry...
while on the concourse, pedestrians and slow riders are protected from commuters speeding below.
As we mean for this scheme to be received only as a stark proposition, and catalyst for further debate, we have shown the blocks in a rack, oriented to maximise sun penetration.
The wedged-shape of the slip block makes it possible to give most residents views to the city or country over the low ends of neighbouring blocks.
Low level apartments have filtered views through holes left in each block.
Holes occur above retail hubs at the start of each ramped corridor leading inside to the flats.
Stairs with wheel-channels at the ends of the blocks provide access to sloped roof-top recreation areas: sites for ski slopes or mountain bike flow trails.
We have not shown the many ways this concept is able to be softened, especially at the ground level. Our aim with the Unite d' Bicycle Nation is to highlight just how different housing might be if cycling were recognised as an alternative mode. In Copenhagen it is still being treated as an add-on, or supplement, to developments that teleologically trace to machines used for transport.
A stark proposition for the “city of cyclists”. Featured on Archinect.
Designer: Steven Fleming. Assistants: Rafael Upcroft, Rob Maver, Abdel Soudan.