MVRDV - Papirøen proposal transforms historic structures into creative cultural district

Papirøen proposal transforms historic structures into creative cultural district


MVRDV, in collaboration with local architects BCVA, created the “Papirøen” proposal with the aim of further developing the identity of one of the main hotspots in Copenhagen, Denmark. The competition was ultimately won by our friends at COBE. The artificial Paper Island, which was once home to a salt distillation plant and paper storage for the city’s newspapers, is one of the last of its kind remaining in the inner-harbour. MVRDV’s approach to the new mixed-use master plan was to enhance the identity of the site through preserving the existing buildings; warehouses, paper halls and boiler houses. At the same time residential units would be added above ground level, marked as white towers in the proposal, to be designed by future architects working with in the master plan. The existing structures are witnesses of the port’s history, development and industrial character and are used as a backdrop for a new era of activity on Paper Island. The proposal prioritises the island’s present functions, the port setting, unique atmosphere and historic structure; but adds facilities to build a more solid future from the temporary activities that currently sit there.

The plinth, made up of a combination of existing and new buildings at ground level, would house spaces for public activities, retail and flexible use that allow for the organisation of events such as the Copenhagen Fashion Week. The island’s new swimming pool we located on the sunny south-western side of the site and the outdoor bath functions provide access to the harbour via a sun deck. On top of this plinth, raised above the public arena, sits several housing typologies organised in narrow residential towers. The housing units provide prime views over the river, privacy from the public, as well as shared gardens for residents; whilst keeping the ground level open and accessible for the people of Copenhagen. MVRDV’s masterplan proposal keeps the towers as white volumes to give the future architects of each tower the opportunity to explore a range of unique designs and give each building an individual character within this white colour scheme. The towers on the artist's impressions are not designs, only ‘placeholders’.

In usual circumstances, an urban renewal of this scale would call for the island to close and for all its functions to be relocated or shut down for a number of years; a counterproductive loss for the site. MVRDV’s proposal works with the site and its current inhabitants, offering a phasing strategy in which the Street Food Market can remain open, thereby maintaining the island’s identity through one of its most popular features. MVRDV’s Papirøen provides a new perspective from which to view the future of the island; a space for the people of the city, rather than an exclusive settlement; and a proposal that not only preserves a rich history, but builds on it to create new cultures and an enhanced identity.

For more information visit the project page here.