The Iceberg

The Iceberg apartment building in Aarhus, Denmark by seARCH, CEBRA, JDS + louis paillard
The Iceberg is located at a prime location on the outmost harbor front in Aarhus’ new quarter Aarhus Ø (Aarhus East) and consists of 208 apartments. Like many other worn-out industrial harbor areas, the former container port of Aarhus is being transformed into a vibrant new neighborhood. This apartment complex  is among the first projects to be finished in an area that on completion will be home to 7,000 inhabitants and provide 12,000 workplaces. Its total site area of 800,000 m2 makes it one of Europe’s largest harbor front city developments.
The inspiration for the Iceberg originated primarily from the site’s extraordinary location with spectacular views over the Aarhus Bay. Thus, the seemingly simple task was to maximize views and sunlight conditions for every single apartment and at the same time respect the in- land urban context.  Instead of following the masterplan, which was dominated by closed building blocks, the Iceberg is laid out as four L-shaped wings, where the street spaces in-between open towards the water. In order to obtain optimal daylight conditions and views over the bay, the building volumes are cut up by jagged lines.
The roofs rise and fall into peaks and valleys, which create visual passages across the individual volumes – like floating icebergs that constantly refract one’s gaze. Thus, even the back wing’s residents can enjoy the view. The principle of dividing each building into tops and valleys contributes to adapt the scale of the buildings to the surroundings and the interior spaces. Instead of being considered as a block turning inwards the complex be experienced as an open structure, creating more architectural appeal.
In selected areas the structure of the building is pressed down towards street level to create a harbor oriented character and scale. In other areas the structure is pulled upwards to create a more urban qualities. City and harbor meet in one common idiom.
The varying and spectacular forms that derive from this simple algorithm make it possible to fit a varied range of different dwelling types within the complex – the outer geometry is changed upwards through the building and consequently also in the flats, which range from two- story ‘town houses’ and affordable smaller flats to exclusive penthouses in the peaks.
The variety of residences with different balconies, shapes and orientations as well as the combination of owner-occupied and rented flats aim at creating socially diverse urban surroundings that form a lively local community: the building complex becomes a neighborhood instead of a mere series of housing blocks.