Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

High Neighbor! Residents’ Social Practices in New Danish High-Rises

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Abstract:  Historically, Denmark—like the other Nordic countries—has had relatively few, and relatively low residential high-rise buildings compared to other urbanized countries. Inspired by an international vertical urban turn, however, multiple high-rises have now been planned and built. This has refueled the debate on whether living in high-rises is compatible with Danish housing culture and our high standard of social life. From this local perspective, the article wishes to contribute to the emerging scholarship using an ethnographic approach to social life in high-rises while drawing on theories of practice and concepts of home. As part of the project “Vertical Residential Living: Updated Knowledge on Housing Culture and Social Life in Danish Residential High-Rises” (2020–2021), the article analyses more than 50 semi-structured interviews with residents and field observations of various social spaces in eight new high-rises in Denmark. Reflecting on the complex links between residents’ homes, social practices, and shared spaces, the article presents three findings: First, vertical social life starts horizontally at the front door, outside one’s home. Second, the character of social life taking place at the floor level is pivotal for entering the vertical community, and architecture, design, and interior are important here. Third, the article indicates that Danish home culture is echoed in residents’ social practices in high-rises. Against this background, the article suggests that researchers also incorporate a more local and home-centered perspective on social practices, while studying—and planning—vertical neighborhoods.

Keywords:  Denmark; high-rise; home; neighborhoods; social life; vertical practices



© Mette Mechlenborg. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.