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Circular building design


The Symbiosis Houses

26. February 2024

Solution provider


URBAN POWER ApS is an architect and urbanist office who advises municipalities, regions, companies and private developers in making decisions within the fields of urban planning, buildings and urban spaces with a solid focus on sustainablílity and co-creation.


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The Symbiosis Houses are part of a larger-scale development plan for transforming buildings and urban spaces. The project is a concrete effort for activating the area with new functions and more urban life. 

Urban development of industrial and business areas is often a tabula rasa approach where the majority of structures are demolished. The goal was therefore to break away from this approach and actively work with the transformation and reuse of the existing building in the overall plan.

This untraditional housing project developed by URBAN POWER is placed on the roof of an existing office building in the suburbs of Copenhagen.

The project is inspired by historic Danish villages and will become a small village itself, with houses organised around a winding street with small squares for social interaction.

In addition, the “village” and the office building below will form a strong symbiosis and benefit from each other. Food, water, heat, energy, parking, meeting spaces etc. are shared and utilised by different users at different times of the day and year – making much better use of all local resources.

In this way housing and business support each other by sharing these facilities and giving unique opportunities to the users’ needs, all together becoming a local symbiosis.


By mixing housing typologies on the roof combined with a roof farm and adjacent facilities brings new nuances and user-experiences to the area, in contrast to the otherwise plain commercial building which is kept, transformed and reused. 

Symbiosehusene will become the neighbourhood’s new centre, from a closed and grey building into a new multifunctional and open building, where business, housing and education are unified.

The transformation will happen in three steps:

  • Renovation and reuse of the existing structures which contain very heavy cores and roof decking
  • Upgrading of outdoor areas where new entrances, landscape and rainwater harvesting are supporting the urban life and flow for pedestrians and bicyclists 
  • Using the fifth facade – the roof – in order to place new structures and urban farming which supports local community and creates activities 

In this way, the material consumption is minimised while the future neighbourhood gets a helping hand with new social functions and programming.


The first phase is completed by renewing the facade with new entrances and interior refurbishment for multiple users: education, doctors, daycare and businesses.

This will be followed by the next phase where a community and roof farm is created on the rooftop. Symbiosehusene is a part of the ongoing development plan for the Hørkær area.

By bringing mixed functions into the development area, new life and usage can be created. The intention is that the building’s full potential can be utilised ‘24/7’ according to the different users’ needs and therefore become a part of the circular system.

‘Symbiosehaven’ (The Symbiosis Garden) has been curated together with local residents in collaboration with ØsterGro and functions as a local utility garden with greenhouses, where the residents can grow their own vegetables.

Symbiosehusene is developed as a concept for sharing and utilising spaces and facilities in a more optimal way. This strategy can be implemented in various contexts with similar buildings and typologies, as an intervention for urban life and sustainability.

Sustainability is furthermore at the forefront, through the two initiatives: reusing as much of the existing building as possible and strengthening the mixed urban space through functions that create more life and community.

In this way, material consumption is minimized while the district benefits from new social functions.