Foto: Pudelek

Competing to transform the prison of Vridsløselille

9. June 2020

The 160-year-old Vridsløselille Prison is facing a major transformation. Albertslund Municipality and Freja Ejendomme have initiated the development of the 160,000 m2 prison area and have invited Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects in collaboration with STED – urban and landscape to be one of five teams in an architectural competition.

It has been four years since the last of the Vridsløselille inmates left the prison that has served as such for more than 150 years. A prison that is also famous as a central backdrop in the Danish film series Olsen Banden.

The old prison was handed over to the state property firm Freja Ejendomme in 2019. In collaboration with the Municipality of Albertslund they have now taken the first development step of the area and the iconic buildings with an architectural competition. They have invited five teams to participate, including Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects in collaboration with STED – urban and landscape.

“We are proud to contribute. The transformation of a closed, introverted prison area into an open, vibrant and sustainable neighborhood is a unique task. We are going to deliver a proposal that respect history and naturally opens up to the city of Albertslund, which has developed around the prison since the late 1800s,” says Torsten Stephensen, partner at Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects, who also transforms the iconic and former National Aquarium in Charlottenlund.

A new ‘prison town’ of housing and businesses

The competition covers the entire prison grounds of 160,000 m2 set to become housing, retail, office space, public institutions and more.

The project proposals must include a landscape and building design as well as proposals for a transformation of the conservation-worthy part of the existing buildings.

These include the famous prison gate, known from the Olsen Banden film series, as well as the old prison church with the iconic spire.

“Architecturally, the area is very interesting. The prison is a classic panopticon facility on a large scale and with quite a unique and spectacular star shape. And the area to be developed is rarely large considering its central location in an urban area, ”says Torsten Stephensen.

The five teams are expected to present the projects on August 31 and September 1, and on September 18 there will be an evaluation and publication of the projects. The assessment is carried out by an advisory committee consisting of representatives from the municipality of Albertslund, Freja properties and external professional judges.