Adaptable Infill

Designing a building as stairs

Project Date
Copenhagen, Denmark
Katrine Lotz, Anne Mette
Unit 3: Materiality & Architecture

School of Architecture
Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts

Taking inspiration from context, materiality, and the adaptable futures student competition, a narrow gap between two buildings in Copenhagen’s Vesterbro is ‘filled’.

hot - cold // inside - outside // narrow - wide // high - low

Layers of threshold and circulation are carefully controlled to create a dynamic spatial sequence that maximises functionality. Insistent that it is the users rather than the architecture that adapts, a ‘building as stairs’ is created. Different spaces (in character, proportion, level) suggest different activities appropriate to each.


Adaptable Spaces

Within the tight confines of the chosen site, the design maximizes contrasts as a means of heightening the architectural experience.

Ascending the narrow metal exterior stairs, looking back towards the street, the visitor reaches a solid wooden door. Opening it, they turn to face dramatic auditorium seating. Narrow opens onto wide, high morphs into low, and inside suddenly becomes outside.


The spaces are designed for communal activities such as movie screenings, book readings, yoga, and games.

A 'keeper of the house' retains a small studio apartment on the top floor in exchange for managing the community facility. Envisaged as a miniature democratic house of the courtyard residents, it provides an interior shared space for residents to gather.


A Kit of Parts

The building is designed as an assembly which can be adapted to the numerous infill lots that are prevalent within Copenhagen's neighborhoods.

The courtyard typology requires access to the world beyond the street, and the structure is designed on stilts, lifted above street level, with a simple flight of stairs touching the ground.


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