The Orient: Social sustainability in Denmark’s most expensive neighborhood


Adam Mørk

What kind of an apartment can you get for DKK 1,000 per square meter? Dorte Mandrup Architects offers an answer to this question with The Orient, Nordhavn’s first social housing building.

It may sound paradoxical that it wasn’t until 2019 that the first social housing project was completed in Nordhavn, considering the often heated debate about the lack of social and student housing in Copenhagen. But now a number of inexpensive homes have been erected in Copenhagen’s most exclusive new district. The Orient thereby contributes to social sustainability in Nordhavn, which aspires to be a district with equal access for all.

The history of social housing in Denmark is not always one of premiere architecture, but with The Orient, architects from Dorte Mandrup have teamed with KHS Arkitekter to create social housing of high aesthetic value. Take, for example, the varying facades made from brick and sheet metal, which mesh stylistically with the rustic look of the Aarhusgade neighborhood.

Ready for flexible family forms

The interiors of these apartments are more flexible than that typically seen in social housing, creating space for a diversity of residents, from children to senior citizens and everyone in between. Past notions of the nuclear family and the typical composition of residents in social housing have been abandoned.  Instead, the focus is on creating a vibrant and diverse city of residents with different social backgrounds and financial means. The Orient has 24 “service apartments”, which the City of Copenhagen can allocate to residents with special needs.

Social sustainability today is also about countering the loneliness and isolation plaguing cities around the world. Therefore, communities are an integral element of the design of The Orient. Communities are in focus at The Orient’s cafes on Aarhusgade, as well as in the design of the common rooftop terraces and daycare institution in the building.

Another aspect of social sustainability is the need for housing and urban spaces that are available and accessible by all, including those with disabilities. Small details in the city can be absolutely critical for accessibility: a staircase without a ramp, a curb that is too high, or a lack of spaces to sit and rest. Each of these obstacles would exclude certain people from a given place or building. The design of The Orient also takes these considerations into account.


  • A 70-square-meter apartment in The Orient costs approximately DKK 6,100 per month. In comparison, an apartment of the same size in the neighboring building on Antwepengade costs approximately DKK 12,000.