New lease of life for ’60s housing complex

When it decided to renovate a social housing development in Sønderborg, the B42 Housing Association had two clear objectives. The homes had to be more energy-efficient, but an aesthetic upgrade was just as important.

B42 commissioned Zeni Arkitekter for the project, on the proviso that the renovation would not lead to unnecessary rent increases. Working closely together on the project, the client, architects and residents agreed that the roofs, windows and doors would last a few more years. Instead, the project focused on the run-down façades. Ringbakken was built in the 1960s from yellow, machine-made brick. Incorrect vacuum settings during the production mean that the bricks, especially on the west-facing façades, had begun to crumble due to frost damage.

Kai Østergaard-Jensen of Zeni Architects explains the decision to clad the gables and front façades in Petersen Cover: “The new façade cladding had to be of higher quality than the original machine-made bricks, and have a considerably longer lifespan. It also had to be maintenance-free and age beautifully. Equally important, the materials had to significantly enhance the buildings’ appearance. Handmade Cover, with its texture and rich play of colour, brings a beautiful vitality to surfaces. Being mounted in overlapping rows, it has a dynamic relief effect.

Another advantage of Cover is that the cladding is hooked onto a lightweight frame mounted on the outside of the new insulation. This means there’s no need to dig foundations – another major saving. 

You can’t put a price on how wonderful it is to see visible signs of life in Ringbakken,” says B42 director Mikael Jensen, “to see the residents using the balconies and terraces and connecting with each other, and to see children playing in communal areas that used to be empty. The project has been of great benefit to the whole community.