Photo: Vandkunsten

A former military area is now home to a small new urban district with an extraordinary connection to nature.

Located in the wild area behind Christiania and Holmen, Margretheholm consists of residential complexes inspired by different eras and construction methods – and its residents get both nature and the best from the city at once. Its existing vegetation and trees are pristine, with preservation a key word for the architects behind the islet project. Instead of tearing down the former military area’s buildings, which for centuries housed the Danish Navy, much of the old architecture is maintained.

The contrast between the existing and the new is emphasised. The result of the transformation is a lively, local and exceedingly well-functioning neighbourhood, with a mix of classically inspired, quality prefabricated townhouses and cool, affordable student housing in an old constable school dating from 1939. The award-winning student apartments are known for their white façade laid out on the existing house, so that the old traces of masonry can still be seen.

Udsigten – or The Prospect – is one of Margretheholm’s dwellings and is shaped with inspiration from the embankment, the flatlands and the beach.

The eight-storey-high and 550-metrelong residential complex zigzags through the area, serving as a dramatic contrast to the surrounding buildings and Amager Bakke (see left) to the east.