Just outside of Central Aarhus, Denmark, a small urban community has blossomed. Coined ‘Student Village’, and designed by lenschow & pihlmann architects; the small urban community, housing approximately 60 students has attached itself and reclaimed the life and integrity of a 17th century timber farm. The new buildings have aggregated around the original building, imbuing the successful nuances and closeness of the historical Danish roadside, transitioning the farm and its new occupants into the modern age.
The original site hosts a 17th century timber farm and it’s original timber farmhouse. The original building is called ‘Søgaard’, a traditional four-fold timber structure which had once served as a house for a family and their cattle. Over time the original house as well as the area has felt the gradual change of an urbanising setting. In this century, the sites proximal city of Aarhus has expanded and consumed the surrounding area. This growth has left the site and the ‘Søgaard’ as a unique remnant nestled between the cities outlying highways and shopping malls.
Transitioning the site into a new community with ample student housing and facilities was a delicate task without risking common actions of tabula rasa. In turn, 7 new additional buildings were aggregated on the site, formed around and connecting to the original structure and its courtyard. The new buildings follow and mimic the old farms’ layout. This arrangement has formed intimate streets and public spaces both open and enclosed, reflecting the success of small settlements and traditional frameworks present in much older Danish roadside villages.
This Student Village consists of 56 single and double room apartments for students, as well as common rooms and shared facilities housed in the old barn and the large outdoor space of the original courtyard. These two elements are unified by their immediate connection creating a larger and more expressed shared space.
Each of the individual apartments held within the 7 new surrounding buildings open their facades dually to the surrounding nature as well as to the Village streets and communal offering. This design allows the occupants to acquire their own private vista on one façade; angled out to the protective natural reserves bordering the site. The other façade opens up into the village; encouraging an open participation to the shared, narrow streets and common spaces.
Part of the success of this arrangement is how the new more modular buildings react to the much older building and its new restoration. Akin to other Danish timbered farms, Søgaard’s character is understood through the rational of its construction and use of materials. The restoration process was channelled through this tradition and architectural value present in the farm. The technical challenges throughout the design and more importantly the build were solved by a rational approach similar to that applied to its initial construction.
‘The original building was insulated and given a new roof, the timber has been restored and new foundations established. Great emphasis has been put on honest restoration where new materials appear on equal terms with the farms original design and materials.’
lenschow & pihlman
There is a careful simplicity in both the palette of the new construction and renovation and the considered attempt to bridge the old and the new. The new roof provided to the old barn lends a materialistic gesture to the more modular construction of the housing buildings. Where heights, roof pitches, material choice and colour palette equally lend themselves back to the construction of the original farm. Even smaller gestures are present between the old and the new construction.
The palettes of the new housing units are honest and simplistic. Floors and stairs are cast in concrete, handrails and fittings are made from black steel and the dual canvas of white walls and pine is able to protrude as the unifying feature. Tying the old and new together in an exchange of architectural features, responses, materiality and construction.
The ceilings and lofts of the newer buildings are clad in plywood, expressing a wooden datum that mimics the wooden exposed structure of the older building. In turn, the white modular plastered walls and insulation of the newer build is mimicked in the insulation of the barn. With a concern to reveal the palimpsests of the old windows and wooden structure, small portal frames set back from the exterior make room for these small historical highlights; allowing them to gleam both as exhibit and necessary illumination within.
The new modular construction and arrangement on site nods at the Søogard’s historic siting and construction but adapts it conscientiously into the modern age. ‘Student Village’ has respectfully treated it’s architectural predecessor as something that can aid the design of the new village into it’s successful future. A clever modular design and careful renovation that showcases the beauty and simplicity of the old, has provided a novel set of foundations for a new history to be created from the site.
|ARCHITECT||lenschow & pihlman|