With an important increase in the number of higher education student applicants in Denmark in recent years and a shortage of comfortable, conveniently located and reasonably priced student accommodation, Copenhagen housing start-up Urban Rigger came up with an ingenious idea in 2013 of how to meet the demands of this growing student body on a shoestring budget. They sought to build revolutionary low-cost modular dorms using shipping containers that can float in urban harbours and get Copenhagen’s own star architect, Bjarke Ingels, to design them.
It was the brainchild of Kim Loudrup, founder and CEO of Urban Rigger, who discovered it was a nightmare to find accommodation for his son who was going to university in Copenhagen, one of the 10 costliest cities in the world in which to live. A phenomenon witnessed internationally, there will be a total projected deficit in Europe of more than 4 million student beds by 2025. In Denmark alone, it is estimated that 24,000 students are without residence. This lack of housing could have serious consequences for cities, as students find it challenging to attend schools in urban areas where they could participate in knowledge-based economies.
Recognising that Copenhagen’s centrally located harbour remains underutilised and underdeveloped, Urban Rigger—in which Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) owns a 10-percent stake—introduced a new building typology. Optimised for harbour cities offering a practical, geographically independent and unconventional architectural solution, it would allow students to live in floating homes right in the city centre. The patented private initiative hopes to alleviate the desperate housing situation of many students in Europe. Rather than trying to find available centrally located land to build on, it takes advantage of the potential of thousands of kilometres of untapped harbours, rivers and canals in Europe. The crowded city can thus expand without taking up valuable real estate. Ingels recalls, “My former downstairs neighbour told me he had a friend that I had to meet. He turned out to be a maverick entrepreneur, who now wanted to help thousands of students migrating to big cities every year with no way to find a decent place to live. The idea itself was simple. Most major cities are port cities. The ports are turning from industry to living and working. Water is, in principle, free. The regulations on water are faster and simpler than on land.”
|Project Name||Urban Rigger|
|Completion Date||September 2016|
|Gross Floor Area||680 square metres|
|Number of Rooms||711|
|Client/Owner||Udvikling Danmark A/S|
|Architecture Firms||Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)|
|Principal Architect||Bjarke Ingels|
|Main Contractor||House on Water Ltd|
|Mechanical & Electrical Engineer||BIG|
|Civil & Structural Engineer||BIG|
|Images/Photos||BIG; Laurent de Carniere|