An ocean or two away in Aarhus, a team of four architects has finished Isbjerget, a residential project on the waterfront of Denmark’s second-largest city. The pointy-roofed Iceberg is a collaboration between JDS Architects, Cebra, SeARCH and Louis Paillard. All great firms, but it’s especially exciting for me to see the project finish because I feel like I witnessed the conception of the project at the desk next to mine while I worked at JDS. And what does it take to conceive architecture? A lot of blue foam.
When I first saw the project, Andy was working directly with Julien, burning through dozens of models to come up with a few iterations to take to a meeting in Aarhus. And I really mean it when I say Andy was burning through them, the early sketch models were made with rigid blue foam insulation that is cut using a hot wire. It’s fast and honestly a fun way to make massing models, but I remember that even from the earliest models, a primary focus of the project was to make sure that each occupant would have plenty of natural light in his/her space and that as many occupants as possible would have views of the waterfront. That’s why the site plan of the project changed from a prescribed perimeter building with a courtyard into a series of L-shaped canyons. As I recall, the project didn’t even start out trying to resemble an iceberg, it just happened somewhere along the way.
So now, nearly five years after the first massing models were made the project stands by the waterfront kind of looking like an iceberg. Five years may seem like a long time, but this iceberg hasn’t been moving at a glacial pace; it’s taken a lot of work to crystalize this project because of its scale and the economic rough seas that tend to drown architecture. What’s left next to the water in Aarhus is handsome and bright. But would you live inside an giant iceberg? Sadly, I haven’t been able to find any photos from the interior of the project– my guess is that they’re still finishing work inside- but these great exterior pictures are all taken from SeARCH’s website. Even though I had nothing to do with the project (Well, I think I may have built a box to transport a model once?) it’s exciting to see the blue model all grown up into a white building, even if that building is very far away.