The old share-based wholesale market in Valby, the centre for regional trade of fruit and vegetables frequented daily by traders from Copenhagen, Zealand and Sweden since 1958, has moved to new premises due to lack of space and changed trading patterns, and the 160.000m2 large abandoned industrial site is about to be transformed into a new, modern and dense neighbourhood.

While brick facades and vestiges from the old warehouse structures preserved as part of the central park are references aimed at forging a cohesive environment rooted in history, the new town also aims at developing the unique character of the area by providing opportunities for getting your hands dirty and experience the joy of having a garden in the middle of the city. Outdoor spaces with beds for growing fruit and vegetables, budding greenhouses, lush surroundings and focus on community living are an important part of the urban DNA of New Valby.

The district will feature a mix of 2.000 public, rental, cooperative and owner-occupied dwellings, and a variety of typologies including apartments, row- and townhouses and 5 towers -  local landmarks and a new addition to the CPH skyline. The empty area on the Eastern edge of Grønttorvet between park and Ny Ellebjerg trainstation is the challenging site for MUTOPIA’s proposal for a 16 stories highrise: a landmark looking both to the past pillared warehouses bulging with vegetables, and the future: a changed world, where it is involved in new urban contexts. Our ambition has been to create a strong presence which marks the transition from the old city to the new district, - a building that both integrates and contributes to the context of a ’green and edible city’ by providing new residential qualities, outdoor life, abundant greenery and the possibility of growing your own food right at home.

The brief called for a brick tower integrated in the NE edge of an open courtyard block, with four apartments per floor grouped around a central core, and balconies for each apartment. A column-beam grid integrated in the facades provides a strong connection to the area's industrial past, while in the same time allowing the ’carving out’ of the floorplates in the middle section of the tower. The individually shaped carved floors allow for different apartment types and sizes, and different sized corner outdoor spaces: the montony of extrusion turns into exciting living variation!

The corner carvings fractalize and reduce the midsection of the building, which lets the wind pass easily around the tower, so that facade downwash is minimized and the inner balconies are sheltered from the strong local winds. Protruding balconies and planters with climbing plants on the tower's lower section minimize wind conditions at the foot of the tower securing a comfortable urban life in the surrounding public spaces. The green presence becomes a prerequisite for better city life!

The carving intervention on the middle section of the tower subdivides the building formally into three distinct parts, each with its own qualities and expression. The resulting variation of the facade design ecchoes the diverse living conditions offered by the different sections of the tower corresponding with their respective hight: the upper floors feature recessed balconies for optimized wind protection and large corner windows for optimized views, as well as access to private rooftop garden glasshouses; the carved middle part features protected corner balconies with integrated planters, while the lower section features a combination of protruding balconies and hanging planters to provide maximized interaction with street level, and green facades as vertical gardens. Planters accommodate both the sturdy ivy, hops, vines and clematis which spread on the facade, as well as other robust plants related to food culture such as herbs, rhubarb, wild strawberries and currants.

The tower combines nature and architecture in a new kind of urban nature where building, plants and crops are intimately interconnected. Hence we call the tower for The GREEN TOWER: a distinctive silhouette with strong references to both history and park, in a dynamic dialogue with the immediate surroundings, and a striking addition to the CPH skyline, that symbolizes the ambition of the new neighborhood: green living.

Client: FB Gruppen

Program: 16 floors residential tower, 7.500m2 gross floor area

Year: 2017

Location: Grønttorvet, Valby, Copenhagen

Team: Serban Cornea, Kristina Jordt Adsersen, Henrik Ulsfort, Andrea della Longa, Mara Tomulescu, Dimitrios Adamidis

Budget: undisclosed

Status: Invited Competition