Dorte Mandrup behind Carlsberg Byen's first apartments in listed building

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Bricks are never just bricks in Carlsberg Byen. The many listed buildings are all carefully gifted a new lease of life – most of them as the setting for the local culture scene. Now one of the listed buildings is exceptionally being transformed into housing, when 20 apartments, designed by Dorte Mandrup, are added on top of the iconic Mineral Water Factory.

The 20 apartments are part of a comprehensive transformation of the large factory, which in the bottom floors will house stores and offices. “We want to add apartments and create a mixed-use building for several reasons. Firstly, because we want to create a vibrant and safe environment for the people living and working in the area. Stores and offices close, while residents are home at different times of the day – especially at night. By combining these functions, we make sure that there is activity 24/7,” says founder and creative director, Dorte Mandrup.

Light apartments surrounding a social atrium

It hasn’t been straightforward to add apartments in the stringently composed, neoclassical industrial building from 1927. In line with previous transformations, we've approached the old factory in a sensitive yet innovative manner in order to create modern apartments without compromising the historic elements worth preserving.

The 20 apartments surround an open atrium filled with natural lighting which is created by removing the middle part of the roof. The atrium is central to creating a social space for the future residents – a space that supports a close community, as you know it from a quiet suburban street or the intimate "Kartoffelrækkerne" in Copenhagen.

The apartments vary in size but are all two stories and have an open connecting staircase that creates natural lighting and visual connections – also to the historical elements of the building, such as the round windows that represent the soul and history of the Mineral Water Factory.


Contextually aware but without melancholy  

Despite its listed status, the almost 100-year-old factory has been through several transformations. Every change has been made as a response to the industrial development and the building no longer exists in its original form. Therefore, it has been important to utilize the historical elements of the factory, rather than holding on to something that once was. It is about being contextually aware but without melancholy.

“The building has many interesting historical elements, for example, the original structures, the characteristic magnificent pillars, the façade, and the windows. But the rooms, that are the most interesting, have developed through many years of transformations. Why shouldn’t we add a new modern layer representing our time and needs?” says Dorte Mandrup.

We work with great respect and understanding for the existing and consider contrasts an architectural quality. It has been important to make it recognizable what belongs to the existing building and what is added on. When it comes to the choice of materials, we've been inspired by the French, Pierre Chareau, the architect behind the iconic Maison De Verre. Like Chareau a consistent feature in the apartments has been honesty in materials. The industrial surfaces and dark steel profiles accentuate the original use of the building and therefore, natural and sturdy materials have been crucial to creating apartments in synergy with the industrial history of the building.

The result is 20 unique apartments that are both modern and filled with history – something rare in Copenhagen where you often have to choose between convenience and soul.

Read more about the transformation at