Denmark's Next Classics

 

This is the last opportunity to see Denmark’s Next Classics at Designmuseum Danmark.

The exhibition shows the work of five designers who took part in a series on Danish television in the Spring that sought to find new designs that could become design classics in the coming years.

From each designer there is a dining chair, a dining table that can be extended, a pendant light, furniture for children, a sofa and a lænestol or arm chair.

With sketches and models for the designs and with audio-visual material - including clips and interviews from the programmes - Denmark’s Next Classics explores the process of design.

The designers are Janus Larsen, Isabel Ahm, Rasmus B Fex, Kasper Thorup and Rikke Frost.

Judges for the competition were Anne-Louise Sommer - professor of design and now director of Designmuseum Danmark - and the designer Kasper Salto.

Denmark’s Next Classics
at Designmuseum Danmark until 1 September 2019

the six programmes can still be viewed
on line through the DR site

 

a new library for Nørrebro

 

At the beginning of August a new public library opened in the old tram sheds in Nørrebro.

The building is set back from Nørrebrogade with a large square at the front where trams originally turned into the sheds and the original high and narrow openings towards the road have been retained but with new doors that have stylised versions of giant book cases.

Inside, the single huge space of the shed has been retained with arched openings in the brickwork along the east side towards Bragesgade kept as a strong architectural feature and to flood the space with light. The industrial roof has been kept and is now painted black.

Fittings are in pale plywood and divide up the space and there are integral breaks in the shelving with desk spaces and benches that create quiet places to work but also form views through the space.

Across the west side of the library are smaller spaces on two levels with meeting rooms above for meetings and teaching that the community can use and, like all libraries in the city, there is a play area for children to encourage even the youngest to see the library as a fun place to visit.

Further back from the road is a second huge tram shed and that was converted some years ago to a sports hall - Nørrebrohallen - and there is now a large entrance area and large cafe between the two - between the library and the sports halls - as a place where people can meet.

Running back from the road and along the west side of the buildings is the famous city park - Superkilen - with its outdoor play and sports so this area is now a major hub for the community around. It is anticipated that visitor numbers to the library could soon exceed 1,000 a day.

select any image to open the set of photographs as a slide show

sport and space consultancy KEINGART have published a pdf file on line with plans of the library and cafe area

 

Karen Blixens Plads

approaching the square from the metro station at Islands Brygge

 

Designed by the landscape and architecture studio COBE, the square is at the centre of the south campus of the University of Copenhagen and is one of the largest public spaces in the city.

The square, with work just completed and now open, is approached either from the north, from the metro station at Islands Brygge, or from the south from the direction of Amager Fælled.

The main area is paved with pale bricks and the main feature is shallow brick domes that cover part sunken areas for leaving bicycles but they also form areas fr sitting out and reduce what was a bleak and almost overwhelming space because of the size of the open area.

To the south the shallow circular mounds are repeated but heavily planted and with winding pathways between them that create more sheltered areas. Several sunken areas have wetland planting and control run off of rain water.

earlier post on Karen Blixens Plads from June 2017 when work began

approaching the square from the south - from Amager Fælled

 
 
 

Enghave Plads

Vesterbro - the part of the city immediately west of the central railway station - is a densely-occupied area of apartment buildings with most dating from around 1900.

This was a strongly working class part of the city with the main rail line forming the southern boundary and with the meat markets, gas works and the harbour presumably supplying much of the work and the Carlsberg brewery was, until a few years ago, to the west.

The street pattern of the district is complicated with two main roads - Istedgade and Sønder Boulevard - running out at an angle from the railway station at the north-east to the south east but with secondary cross streets of traditional apartment buildings running north to south and there are also several streets running across the area from south east to north west so it a complex pattern of a grid but overlaid with a Saint Andrew cross so some streets meet or cross at odd angles.

At the south end of Istedgade is Enghave Plads - a large open square much wider east to west than the distance across from north to south and it narrows at the centre. This square is where several tram routes met so it was always an important point in the area and immediately to the west is a very large square with a major public garden - Enghave Parken - that has large apartment buildings on the north, west and south sides so the two spaces run together though divided by a busy main road - Enghavevej.

Enghave Plads is the site of one of the major new metro stations on the new circle line that will open at the end of September. The east end of the square and some of the surrounding streets have been boarded off for about a decade with major construction work for the metro but the boarding has just been taken down and the space with it's new landscaping opened officially.

There are large areas for leaving bicycles across the north or darker side of the entrance steps to the metro station but across the south side of the metro entrance there are raised beds with Corten edging and long raised bench seats and then to the west more open space for events. This area has striking new seating that has deep red slats on a black metal frame and these form great bold curves though the initial reaction to the seating has been mixed - some asking exactly why people would want to sit next to each other in long rows even if they are curved. Mature trees to the west, along the main road, have been kept and provide a baffle against the sound of traffic and shade for more seating and an area that is fenced for ball games.

Copenhagen Metro

Vesterbro with the main railway line to the south, the MeatPacking district in the cirve of the railway and the main railway station top right
Enghave Plads just left of centre and Enghave Parken towards the left side

Enghave Plads from the east with the square of Enghave Parken beyond

tram leaving the square and heading along Istedgade towards the railway station … the area between the buildings and the central space has been paved over and the main through traffic has been restricted to the north side of the square

 

Formgivning … from big bang to singularity

  • Connect by Bjarke Ingels and Simon Frommenwiler at entrance

  • BIG at BLOX

  • stairs up with the start of time line

  • PLAY - models of the buildings in LEGO

  • SHOW - Manhattan

  • HOST and LIFT

  • proposal by BIG for BIG in Nordhavn

 

BIG - the Bjarke Ingels Group - have taken over the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen so this exhibition is not just in the two main galleries but flows up and down the staircases and even reaches out into the entrance area. About the only space not occupied by BIG is the half-in-half-out space of the lobby to the underground car park and they also missed an opportunity to take over the public square in front of the building.

Bjarke Ingels is one of the best communicator of ideas and theories about modern architecture - his talks on line are exceptional - so here, at several points in the exhibition, there are life-sized images of the man himself introducing his work and explaining his theories and their application to the phenomenal number of major projects with which BIG have been involved over the last fifteen years.

The main staircase, climbing up from the entrance level, has become a time-line of architectural and cultural history … “the history and future of how thinking, sensing, making, and moving have evolved and will continue to evolve.”

In the gallery at the first landing, PLAY has models of 25 BIG buildings but made by master model makers using plastic LEGO bricks.

Ingels designed LEGO House, in Billund, for the company - completed in 2017 - and here that partnership - between the company and Ingels - is reinforced. This makes a serious point that getting children to see architecture and design as fun from the start - from playing with building bricks or by building dens or play houses - then their approach to their built environment as adults will be more informed and more curious and possibly more adventurous - but the models in LEGO also make sense of these large and complicated buildings by BIG in the way that cartoons or sketches from a good artist can focus our attention on the essential elements of a complicated idea.

Up on the main exhibition area, the floor has been painted with swirls of strong colour that take you to colour-coded areas for this part of the exhibition with each area covering one of the series of main themes. It's a way to group complicated but apparently diverse commissions with sections including - among many others - LIFT, HOST, MARRY and GROW … caps courtesy of the exhibition designer and not mine.

Architectural drawings and rendered digital views - again all colour coded - hang from the high ceiling like banners so it feels like entering a huge medieval bazaar with a touch of Mad Max or Burning Man.

  • model for new apartment building on Dorotheavej in Copenhagen

 

In each section, on trestles, there are architectural models.

Scale models for building projects are the traditional and the well-established tool of the architect and usually a final stage between concept and reality. Models can be the best way for the client and the planning officers to understand what the architect wants to do and models are particularly important if people distrust sketches or are not comfortable with reading and understanding plans and scale drawings.

Here, many of the models are internally lit - to add to the drama - and several use colour for the model that is not used in the final construction but emphasises the main volumes or large building blocks of the architectural composition and there are also some projects where a series of models show how a project evolved as different arrangements of volumes and primary building blocks were tried and ideas developed.

Down the stairs to leave and you find the BIG vision for the future - our future - including concept studies for people building on Mars. As you walk down the stairs, the sections are headed LEAP, THINK, SENSE, MAKE, MOVE.

As an exhibition, it is overwhelming and I will have to get into training and start overloading on energy bars before going back to think about a more carefully-considered review to add to this initial impression. Even if it sounds like it, I'm not carping or trying to be cynical. Seen together, these projects by BIG are impressive and the exhibition really is inspiring. So … the first impression is that it is overwhelming but inspiring.

Ingels is clearly driven - by enthusiasm and with passion - and revelations of theories underlying his ideas should, at the very least, initiate serious discussion about what we need from our buildings now and encourage people to think more about what we want in the future or, to quote, “rather than attempt to predict the future, we have the power to propose our future” although I’m still not sure if that we with the power is us or BIG.

It is appropriate that this exhibition follows on from the retrospective, here at DAC last year, that looked at the life and works of Ove Arup. Both men, although so different in character, can be seen as philosophers who, rather than write, build and make. Both set out to challenge the preconceptions of the staid or the cautious, to move architecture and engineering forward an alternative to simply making sequential improvements or recycling ideas.

If there is one omission, it is that Ingels fronts an atelier - a team of 600 professionals who are divided between offices in Copenhagen, London, Barcelona and New York - but from this first look at Formgivning there seems to be little sense of how responsibility is managed or delegated: an architectural practice on this scale and with this throughput of commissions is as much about management skills and, with growing fame, about the management of expectations as it is about inspiration.

And there is an aspect of modern architecture that the exhibition skirts around and that is the problems and the realities of the present. We tend to gloss over or ignore obvious mistakes of the past as now they are in the past and we want to be rushing on towards the buildings and the materials and the life style and the promises of an attractive and imminent future but in reality, and to be honest, architecture and building, particularly on the scale of many of these projects, is a protracted process where the present is the slowest part. The limbo of the present. Many of the designs here were commissioned five or more years ago and could take a decade to complete or might, even now, be shelved or abandoned as political or environmental pressure dictates a different course.

A case in point is shown in the exhibition with drawings and models for a new building in Nordhavn - the North Harbour - that has been designed by BIG for BIG.

It has been on hold for months because the proposals submitted were rejected in the planning process. A future on hold is frustrating but, sometimes, to take stock and to have to defend a design and to have to fight a corner or, even, when necessary, to accept and understand and take on board concerns should not thwart inspiration but could mean a better building but, in reality, it can be a slow and frustrating process.

BLOX, the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre by the architectural practice OMA, was commissioned in 2008 and completed in 2018. It has been heavily criticised but the rejoinder has been that if this building was commissioned today, it would not be this building that would be commissioned. Will that also be true for some of major projects from BIG that are shown here but are still to be realised?

If there has to be one single and simple contribution that the exhibition makes, it is that Ingels - in the very title of the exhibition - seems to challenge our use of the word design.

For at least the last decade, the word design has been kidnapped by marketing men so, for too many, design has become not so much a process but little more than an ingredient … a selling point to up the amount on the price tag.

Bjarke Ingels seems to have thrown in the towel and abandoned the word to go back to a Scandinavian notion of giving form so, the role of the architect is to have the idea and then to make that idea real … to have the idea and to give it form.

 

Formgivning / Formgiving
an architectural future history from Big Bang to Singularity
continues at Dansk Arkitektur Center / Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen
until 5 January 2020

Status:19 - Dansk Journalistforbund - Exhibition Bus Højbroplads

Part of the Copenhagen Photo Festival, this is an exhibition of 100 photographs by professional photographers shown as digital images on a mobile exhibition venue - the PIXLBOX or exhibition bus from PIXLART.

More than 2500 images were submitted by photographers who are members of DJ: Fotograferne … a section of Dansk Journalistforbund or the Danish Union of Journalists … and reflect a broad range of photographic work from commercial photography through portrait work, art photography and photo journalism.

The photographs were selected within an overall framework of five themes …

  • portrait

  • commercial

  • communication

  • art

  • journalism

 In the exhibition bus the images are digital, shown on a number of screens of different sizes and set portrait and landscape, and several images were shown cropped on more than one screen so there was an interesting opportunity to see how the message or story from an image changes with editing.

Shown on large, high-resolution screens the images have an intensity and depth that is rarely there on the printed page … just compare the images in the exhibition with those in the printed catalogue. That is not a criticism but simply the reality of keeping down the cost of printing the catalogue but then it becomes simply an aide memoir.

The large digital images showed strong vibrant colour where appropriate; the smallest detail in high resolution images and the nuances of soft light in the portrait by Søren Bidstrup of Lars Von Trier in a misty autumn landscape in a river valley.

The images scrolled through so there were often fascinating juxtapositions of images that established a momentary dialogue from the contrast. At one point an informal but still formal portrait by Niels Hougaard of HKH Prince Joachim, second son of the Danish monarch, in military uniform, was set, for a few seconds, next to an image by Rasmus Flindt Pedersen of a street in Mosul as people dealt with the bloody and grim reality of war.

It is a good exhibition space that is restricted but that actually means you focus on the image directly in front of you and the space is designed to have some seating to watch all the images on each screen scroll through and, above all, it is designed to bring art to streets and public spaces anywhere where people do not have easy or direct access to art. 

Many - on fact most - of the images are about context and back story - about why or what might or what probably happened next. Many capture just how weird life can be.

 

this exhibition was shown first through May in Viborg.
Status 19 in the exhibition bus is on Højbroplads from 6 June to 11 June 11-19

 

COPENHAGEN PHOTO FESTIVAL
DJ: Photographers - Status 19
PIXLART
PIXLBOX

 

Fang din by - forandring / Capture your city - change 2019

 

Fang din by - catch or capture your city - is an annual photographic competition at Dansk Arkitektur Centre - the Danish Architecture Centre or DAC - that demonstrates “that our cities are full of quirky details, historical corners, new urban spaces and fantastic architecture.”

This year the theme of the exhibition is transition in the city because our cities are changing every day and that change is fast. "We adapt to climate change, building height, the old is torn down creating new urban spaces." Information about the competition posed two questions ….

How does it look when old meets new? 
Is the transformation of our cities always good? 

Along with information about submission of images for the competition were also the recommendations that photographs should not only reflect the theme for this year but should also be an "exciting composition" and show the "interaction between urban space and people.

The competition was open to professional and amateur photographers and this year 3,000 people submitted images.

A final selection was made by a jury with Maja Dyrehauge Gregersen, Director of Copenhagen Photo Festival; the photo journalist Janus Engel Rasmussen, and Christian Juul Wendell, Head of Communications at the Institut for (X) and project manager at Bureau Detours.

The overall winner was announced at the opening with the second and third prize and there was a second and separate competition for schools and again the winner and second and third prizes were announced.

Fang din by was organised in collaboration with the Copenhagen Photo Festival and the opening coincided with the opening of the Festival.

the exhibition can be seen outside on Bryghuspladsen in Copenhagen
- the public square in front of BLOX -
from 7 June through to 30 August

for the first time this year there will also be a separate but closely-related exhibition - showing a different selection of images - that will be moved between a number of venues around the city.

That exhibition can be seen at:

  • Nytorv - 7 June to 20 June

  • Israels Plads - 21 June to 4 July

  • Rådhuspladsen - 5 July to 18 July

  • Kultorvet - 19 July to 1 August

  • Den Røde Plads - 2 August to 15 August

  • Højbro Plads - 16 August to 30 August

  

Dansk Arkitektur Centre - Fang din by
Copenhagen Photo Festival
Bureau Detours
Institut for (X)

Fang din by - Bryghuspladsen

 

Fang din by - Nytorv

sum of the parts …

 


Too often, when writing about architecture, the focus is on famous or obvious buildings - on the latest or the biggest or the best or on the buildings by well-known architects - and it's too easy to forget or to ignore why everyday parts of our townscape are important.

But, living in Copenhagen and walking around the city most days, I can see that it is the streetscape, the buildings together and the otherwise unremarkable but well-kept historic buildings that make the city such a pleasant and attractive and interesting place to live and to visit.

The architect and writer Jan Gehl has focused on how we respond to our urban environment and, over many years, he has looked at how people use the streets and public spaces of a city. Rather than seeing planning just in terms of the buildings themselves or, and worse, planning as simply the implementation of political dictate - the laws of urban administration - concerned simply with zoning or about how streets and squares are laid out in terms of traffic flow or parking bays - Jan Gehl writes about how people use their cities and what makes a city a good place to live.


It's rare for me to leave home here without a camera and I have been keen to look at and record not just buildings in the city but, because I'm a social historian, I look for evidence that shows how the city has evolved … evidence for not only when buildings were built, but why they were built in a specific way and how they were built and how they were used. And if we look at how and why and when buildings were altered or demolished or look at how and when the layout of the streets and squares changed, we can see evidence for how life has changed for people in the city …. and that change can be either rapid - so within a year or two - or buildings reflect change and adaptation over a time-span of decades or even centuries. 

 
 

Certainly, in Copenhagen, there are important and amazing buildings but, more than in many cities around the world, it is the quality of the parts that make the whole … it is the public space of the streets and squares and courtyards - the areas framed or defined by the buildings and in the streets now it’s the planting and the hard landscaping and the care that is taken with the details and it’s the setting or context for the buildings that together are so important. 

But there’s the paradox … we rarely comment on these elements of our built environment - the context and setting of the buildings - when they are right but we can see something, or often, we just feel something, is wrong when something is done badly.

This is one part of what Jan Gehl talked about in the book New City Life where, with Lars Gemzøe, Sia Kirknæs and Britt Sternhagen Søndergaard, he set out what they called “12 key quality criteria” for good city spaces. 

These were divided between qualities of protection - so feeling safe against the traffic or protected against crime and violence - qualities of comfort - from opportunities to walk through a city to opportunities for play and exercise and then last are their key qualities - ten, eleven and twelve - that are grouped under what seems like a curious heading enjoyment … or perhaps not so much curious but a quality that is either ignored or simply not appreciated when journalists and academic authors write about architecture.

These key qualities of enjoyment are important so they are worth quoting in full.

They are:
scale - Buildings and spaces designed to human scale
opportunities to enjoy the positive aspects of climate Sun/shade Heat/coolness Shelter from wind/breeze
positive sensory experience Good design and detailing Good materials Fine views Trees, plants, water

… so what, in another book, Gehl called ‘Life Between Buildings.’ 

To consider some of these aspects of architecture design and planning, this new occasional series of posts, under the heading sum of the parts, will look at streetscape in Copenhagen; at the details and the outcome or the reality of planning policies, and at aspects of how people here use public and semi-public parts of the city and why well-thought-out architecture of a high quality with good landscaping and good street furniture, together make Copenhagen not just a pleasant but a visually stimulating place to live.

Good planning and good building is not necessarily about doing something that is perfect or even something that fits in - so something conventional or safe - because too often that becomes a matter of simply ticking boxes on a design pro forma but it should be about doing something that is appropriate for a specific place or for a distinct part of the city and is something that is thought through and done in a way that is resilient - which means often that it is something that has been done for the long term - and something that settles in and wears well and works well and, more often than not, that means it should work without shouting at the user.

In English architectural studies "polite" architecture is usually taken to mean the architecture of the rich although, and curiously, few books seem to talk about "rude" architecture.

So generally, in urban architecture and planning, the aim should be for architecture that is quiet and does what it is meant to do without being intrusive … so polite in that sense. That is what makes doing what is appropriate important and surprisingly difficult and, too often, when the appropriate is achieved then it is not appreciated enough.

 

New City Life by Jan Gehl Lars Gemzøe, Sia Kirknæs and Britt Sternhagen Søndergaard, The Danish Architectural Press (2006)

Life Between Buildings, Using Public Space, Jan Gehl, Island Press (sixth edition 2011)



*I've been told by several Danes that they can't understand why the English like puns so much … so I hope that I can get away with the general title of this series as less of a pun and more of a homophone although, of course, I like the idea that, when there are enough posts in this ongoing series, they will have to be indexed as some of the parts of sum of the parts.

the recent launch of three new chairs from TAKT

 

Design X Change at Designmuseum Danmark two weeks ago was my first chance to see the three new chairs that were launched a month before by a new Danish furniture company called TAKT.

Not only are the designs new but the marketing is innovative because, from the start, the company will market on-line direct to their customers. By keeping the cost of marketing as low as possible "in a transparent way" and by using sustainable materials, then they can "make quality goods more accessible."

With this approach and by working with a number of established designers, they clearly echo the principles of FDB in the 1940s and 1950s when they first marketed good-quality modern furniture designed by well-established designers to make good, well-made furniture of a high quality.

In this initial launch by TAKT there are three chairs. Design and development took 18 months and the chairs are made for them by the furniture maker Kvist - a well established Danish company.

The chairs are beautifully and precisely made and well finished. By focusing on perfectly-cut joinery with well-designed mortices or pegs or channels to hold the separate pieces together, then the parts of the chair can be thinner and therefore lighter in weight.

Each chair has a distinct character but you can see links between the designs … for a start they all make the best use of high-quality plywood for seats and back rests and the Tool Chair designed by Rasmus Palmgren is almost a text-book example of how to exploit all the best characteristics of plywood. The plywood of the seat is bent down on each side to give it strength and the front edge is simply held in a channel is a front frame in bent wood and the vertical sides are flared out at the back to form tabs that act like mortices to hold the seat into the bent-wood frame of the back.

Cross Chair by English designers has echoes of the classic stacking chair designed by Vilhelm Wohlert in the 1950s for the art museum at Louisiana. The TAKT chair has two h-shaped frames that cross over under the seat using interlocking slots at the intersection and giving the chair its name. The curved back rest, fixed across the uprights, is simple and elegant but what is impressive is the way it clicks into place as you assemble the chair because Cross Chair is delivered packed flat. That click is testament to the precision of the cutting of the joints give the chair a sense of precise engineering unusual with timber. Another very nice detail is that the ends of the cross rails are curved down - to drop the tenon down further where it is housed in a mortice at the top of the front legs but the top of the leg is also just slightly lower so does not press hard against the underside of the seat to give a more refined design and a slight emphasis to the line of the seat by having that space.

The third chair, Soft Chair by the Danish designer Thomas Bentzen, has a strong sense of Danish design from the late 1960s rather than the 1950s with distinct and marked verticals - so with echoes of the Ferry Chair by Wegner. The legs are a uniform thickness rather than being tapered and are vertical, rather than splaying out, and there are horizontal stretchers or cross rails between the legs. This framework supports an ingenious seat and backrest in plywood where both are curved sharply round at the edge to grasp the frame. It looks almost like leather draped across the frame but there are clever fixings holding both seat and back in place. Despite the apparent complexity of the design it has strong parts with simple fixings so again it is delivered flat.

Part of the team at TAKT is Nicholai de Gier who teaches at the Royal Academy. He wrote a seminal work on chair design - Chairs' Tectonics that was published by The Royal Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture in 2009. In the book he classifies the form of construction for different types of chair and that same attention to detail and an understanding not only of style but techniques of construction is applied to the new collection from TAKT. It is important to emphasise that it is a strong part of the Danish design tradition to reference earlier designs but take them forward or experiment with alternative solutions to specific problems.

TAKT have a good on-line site - crucial for this form of marketing - that links to an 'image bank' with photographs of the chairs from all angles and with photographs of details.

Looking at the chairs as you walk around them you can see respected here a clear aim in classic Danish design to make furniture that is beautiful from any angle.

 TAKT


The display at Design X Change was in a marquee in the great central courtyard of the design museum. It is a very pleasant temporary venue for museum events but the light was oddly flat and not good for taking photographs. The team from TAKT were incredibly patient and let me take chairs outside to take photographs. Please note however that these chairs are not designed or made for garden use.

 
 

Tool Chair

Designed by Rasmus Palmgren from Finland
Beech
natural, black, grey, pale blue, mid blue
FSC-certified wood

delivered assembled


Cross Chair

by English designers Luke Pearson and Tom Lloyd of Pearson Lloyd
Oak and matt black
an option is with the seat upholstered in the eco-labelled wool Hallingdal from Kvadrat or with aniline leather
FSC-certified wood


Soft Chair

by the Danish designer Thomas Bentzen
Ash
FSC-certified wood

 

Is This Colour? … an exhibition by Kontempo at The Round Tower

 

Kontempo, an association of textile designers in the Nordic region, was founded in 2015. With a board of eight textile and furniture designers who meet once a month, they are "working to raise awareness about contemporary textile work and practices."  

Is This ….? …. is a series of exhibitions by Kontempo with Is This Colour? being the third following Is This Textile? in 2016 and Is This Knit? in 2017.

Here, twenty four works are shown that, using many different materials and styles, explore aspects of colour. The Gallery is in the Trinitas Church, the parish church for students, in an upper level that housed the university library, and access is via the brick spiral ramp in the tower. With windows on both sides - with views over the city - there is amazing natural light through the space and that is exploited in the exhibition so that what is clear, immediately, is that surface, texture and shadow all have a crucial role in how we perceive colours.

KONTEMPO
the exhibitions continues at Rundetaarn / The Round Tower until 23 June 2019

the framework
ide Blichfeld

NCS S 1080 Y20R
Kitt Dusnia

compleat
Charlotte Østergaard

colour lab
Louise Sass

duotone
Eva Fly

translucent faces
Henning Larsen

Kunst i Byudvikling / Art in Urban Development

Kunst Realdania cover.jpeg

Realdania have just published a report on sculpture and art in public space that is aimed at municipalities, development companies and other professionals to inspire them "to consider art as a value-creating asset in their own projects."

“Culture and temporary activities are often included in urban development to open up new urban areas and give them identity, involve local citizens, or attract investors and outsiders.”

Christine Buhl Andersen, director of the Glyptotek in Copenhagen, has written an introduction or overview and she emphasises the importance of art in public space …  "art is increasingly used strategically to make urban areas, urban spaces and buildings vibrant and attractive."

The report points out that art in public spaces has a clear role in helping to create a good urban environment but requires a partnership between politicians, architects, planners, developers, builders and artists.

Works of art can be used to decorate or to improve urban spaces and buildings but can do so much more … "art can give the individual building identity, create experiences and contribute to the well-being of the building's users."

established art in public space

 

sculpture of the Glyptotek in Copenhagen

 
 

Sculpture can be part of an outdoor exhibition space … the Glyptotek itself is a good and long-established example with sculpture on and around the building providing open access to art, with decorative portrait busts in niches across the entrance front, decorative panels and the heads of exotic animals, on the building itself; figures, many of workers, on the lawns on either side of the building, and across the back of the art gallery, on the opposite side to the entrance, there is a quiet, pleasant public garden that is also an outdoor gallery for a broad selection of statues.

Much of the sculpture in Copenhagen commemorates major figures - either from the city or national figures including, of course, monarchs, statesmen and major academics, scientists and literary figures.

These are busts or full length figures but there are also more complex representations of the lives of people … an interesting sculpture by Elisabeth Toubro has been added to the line of more traditional busts on plinths across the front of the old university buildings on Frue Plads that commemorates the life and work of the mathematician and seismologist Inge Lehmann.

 

commemorating and remembering through public art …
a statue of Hans Christian Andersen by Augustus Saabye in the King’s Garden: Gottlieb Bindesbøll by Kai Nielsen in the courtyard of Designmuseum Danmark: Steen Eiler Rasmussen by Knud Neilemose at the Royal Academy buildings on Holmen:
a traditional bust of the physicist Niels Bohr at the front of the university buildings on Frue Plads and the less-traditional monument close by to Inge Lehmann by Elisabeth Toubro

traditional art in public spaces

 

Litauens Plads - art, sculpture or street furniture?

 
L1260629.JPG

to mark the site of the important engineering works of Bumeister Wain there is a timeline set in the grass behind the sculpture

Now, many sculptures are designed to be sat on or climbed over and many have an important role in public spaces by encouraging people to sit in or use the space. Are the lines of low cylinders along the edge of the square at Litauens Plads street furniture? The red bird nesting boxes in the trees above suggest a complicated, diverse and subtle use of art works here.

Some artists can be reticent if they feel that their art is there simply to make the area more attractive or, worse, if it is there to increase the value of a development and politically it can be difficult if local people cannot relate to works; find them irrelevant or see the obvious cost as a waste of funds that might better be spent on supporting social projects.

The report looks at several major projects that have included public art in public spaces from the design stage with the examples of new sculpture incorporated into the new developments of Køge Kyst, south of Copenhagen, and Kanalbyen in Fredericia where there has been collaboration to integrate art from the start. 

An ambitious new scheme for public art is evolving at Arken, the major art gallery to the south of Copenhagen. There has been extensive re-landscaping immediately around the art gallery but, because many visitors and tourists come out from Copenhagen by train, Arkenwalk will link the railway station at Ishøj to the art gallery down on the beach - a walk of 2.2 kilometres - with the final design selected after a completion that was entered by 27 teams of artists and architects. The new "art axis" will be marked by very distinct red lamp posts.

new street art

 

The Wave - an interactive light installation by Frederik Svanholm, Mikkel Meyer and Jonas Fehr

the bike and foot bridge by Olafur Eliasson - public art or engineered city planning?

hoardings around the engineering works for the new metro station at Trianglen painted by Benjamin Noir

 

Superkilen in Nørrebro in Copenhagen

Public art is not restricted to sculpture - or at least not what would traditionally be seen as sculpture. Superkilen in Nørrebro has lines of stools and tables marked out with board games and the Circle Bridge by Olafur Eliasson, opposite the national library, with its lighting, blurs the boundary between engineering and public art. Paintings on the high fencing around the sites of the engineering works during the construction of a new Metro line has provided an opportunity for a major project in public art.

Many of these more recent projects, including newer forms of public art in light or with projected video art or sound, are about social engagement but public art can have an important role in attracting people through an area to make it feel used and safe rather than empty and abandoned or underused and under appreciated.

The report identifies a general change in the response to art in the streetscape. It suggests that there is a growing reaction against public art that is temporary or experience orientated or projects that are designed to attract tourists and a move towards "liveability", so art enhancing everyday life for local users of the space … a move towards appreciating art that brings joy, beauty, curiosity, a specific sense of a specific place so context and consideration - in the sense of thoughtfulness - back to enhance how we see and use and occupy public space.

It also includes more mundane but important and practical summaries about realising projects; about determining frameworks and about practical matters of planning for operation and maintenance and even a reminder about seeking information about rules covering Tax and VAT.

Above all the illustrations show just how diverse and just how imaginative public art in public space can be. 

Kunst i Byudvikling
Arkenwalk
Realdania

private art in public space?
a rack for bikes outside the bike shop on Strandgade in Copenhagen
pedals of the stand from a failed experiment to ride side saddle?

 
 

Christian IV

 

location map from the notice of consent granted by the city of Copenhagen

A new statue of the Danish king Christian IV has been unveiled by Queen Margrethe.

It stands at the corner of the forecourt and the ramp up to the main entrance of Børsen - the Royal Exchange - a building that was commissioned by Christian IV.

The statue of the king is in bronze and by the Faroese sculptor Hans Pauli Olsen. It is close in the pose and for the costume to a portrait of the king painted by Abraham Wuchters in 1638 or 1639 where Christian is wearing high riding boots that are loosely fitted with the tops folded down, has his left hand resting on his hip with the right hand outstretched and has a neat beard, heavy head of hair and the famous long, thin, plaited pigtail.

The statue is set on a high stone plinth from where Christian looks across the front of the palace of Christiansborg.

That plinth represents major buildings commissioned in the city by Christian IV with The Round Tower and the distinctive twisted spire of the Exchange and the spire of the tower of Christian's palace of Rosenborg but curiously the stone tower flanked by the spires in bronze are all upside-down … said by the sculptor to be the city that Christian built reflected in water.

The tower is set on a shallow mound in the cobbles that is slightly rustic and also slightly odd as if the whole thing is erupting from the ground.

The cost of the statue has been controversial as has the rather traditional style of the work. A new statue to Christian was first suggested in 2009 but in 2014 the design was rejected by Rådet for Visuel Kunst i Københavns Kommune - the Council of Visual Arts in the City of Copenhagen - on the grounds that "the sculpture does not reflect a contemporary art expression, and therefore lacks sufficient justification and relevance in the present."

The city finally gave consent for the statue by Olsen in January 2018.


background:

Christian was born in 1577 and he was only 11 when his father died. Initially the country was  governed by a regency council but Christian was deemed to have come of age when he was 19 and ruled Denmark from 1596 until his death in 1648.

Through his major building works Christian, more than any monarch, influenced both the plan and the appearance of the city. He remodelled the castle and made Copenhagen the centre of his administration and he commissioned major buildings that are still prominent features of the city including the Brewhouse and Arsenal to the south of the castle; Holmens Kirke - the church of the Royal Navy on the other side of the canal from Børsen - consecrated in 1619; Rosenborg - a private royal residence away from the castle - that was set in formal renaissance gardens on the edge of the city and completed around 1624; Børsen - The Royal Exchange - begun in 1624 and completed in 1640 and The Round Tower and its observatory and Trinitatis Church begun in 1637.

In 1626, Christian initiated work on the north defences of the city that was to become the Kastellet - completed after his death - and he began major engineering works to claim land from the sea - just off the shore and wharves of the old city - and where first Christianshavn was laid out, a planned new town, with defences around the south side and a new south gate to the city and then those defences were extended out to the north to enclose a vast area of sheltered and protected moorings for the naval fleet … an area of water that was subsequently filled with a number of large islands and canals that became the naval warehouses and dockyards of Holmen.

 

There I Belong at Statens Museum for Kunst

 

There I Belong is the first in a new series of exhibitions under the title SMK Plus where contemporary artists will explore the collections of the National Gallery.

For this exhibiion - Inspired by the works of the Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi who lived and worked in Copenhagen around 1900 - the artists Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset have collaborated with Marianne Torp and Tone Bonnén, the museum's curators of contemporary art.

Spartan interiors by Hammershøi are restrained and calm but they are enigmatic - paintings that tread a fine line between being self contained or depictions of a life of painful isolation. The paintings resonate with a contemporary audience, reflecting aspects of modern taste and restrained Scandinavian interiors.

There may be windows in these rooms but the view out to a world beyond is usually obscured by thin, translucent curtains … the natural light entering the room is crucial but a sense of place not so because these are studies in light but never put people, objects or place under a harsh spot light. Figures in the paintings are detached, generally absorbed in what they are doing, inward looking, often with their back to the viewer and in many of the paintings we do not even know if they are reading or writing or simply sitting with head bowed in quiet contemplation. Open doors indicate that there are rooms beyond but barely hint at a lived life.

Interior with the Artist's Easel, takes this to an extreme because, when painting the picture, the artist himself should be at the easel. The only conclusion has to be that there is a second easel at the point where the viewer is standing so are we the artist? Perhaps we have been co-opted into this quiet and private world but this is the ultimate antidote to that modern scourge - the selfie - where the photographer shows themselves at the centre of the scene, always the subject of the view, inevitably relegating an event or scene beyond to a secondary role.

The second gallery - a large space - shows the work Powerless Structures (8 doors) by Elmgreen & Dragset from 2000-2002. These are the most simple, basic, standard white doors imaginable, with plain white door frames but each is a variation in a theme of a detachment from the real or the functional … one door has handles and hinges on both the left and the right side so it would be impossible to open - another has a handle that is not on the door but on the wall alongside so it might or might not open - one door is slightly open to reveal a locked door immediately behind - one door is folded and wrapped around the corner of the gallery - a pair of doors on adjoining walls at another corner are separate but linked by a security chain as if someone might be able to squeeze through from a room on one side to another room without being able to get into the gallery.

This work, or a version of this work, was shown at Statens Museum for Kunst in 2015 in Biography - an ambitious set of major installations by Elmgreen & Dragset. Then, the doors were part of a corridor and a series of rooms that were in what appeared to be a government or public office building. If not obviously dystopian then the corridor was completely anonymous and designed to smother any sense of self. On entering you had a choice to go one way or the other but with no signs or notices to say where you were or why you were there although you could get a ticket from a machine to wait for your number to be called but it never would be, of course, and if you proceeded past these doors you could only return to where you started.

By now placing these doors on the four walls of a large gallery, the work takes yet another step back and pays homage to Hammershøi but expands his space until it is monumental in scale.

The exhibition includes photographs, paintings, sculptures and video by other artists - all taking the theme of doorways and spartan anonymity - with works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Lilianna Maresca, Francesca Woodman, Robert Gober, Annika von Hausswolff, Ugo Rondinone and Thomas Ruff. Only the work by von Hausswolff is from the museum collection with the other works either courtesy of the artist or on loan from galleries and private owners.

 

the exhibition at Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery in Copenhagen
continues until 1 September 2019

Interior with a young woman sweeping, 1899

Interior, No 30 Strandgade, 1906-1908

Interior with the Artist’s Easel, 1910

KADK graduates and UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

Shown in this outdoor exhibition are seventeen innovative study programmes or research projects by graduate students from the Royal Academy Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation and each represent one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Rigsdagsgården - the courtyard immediately in front of the parliament building in Copenhagen - is an amazing public space that is easily accessible for everyone and has a regular series of open-air exhibitions but, more important, given the subject of this exhibition, it brings these problems - and the urgent need to find potential solutions - right to the doorstep of national politicians.

These are innovative and imaginative projects that show architectural, design-led or conservation solutions to major global problems but all are based on established design principles and the use of existing technology or of technology being developed now.

This is the best of Danish architecture and design that can and should be harnessed to tackle serious problems that have to be resolved now.

Solutions shown here are a response to huge range of serious questions including questions about:

  • how we can reclaim methane gas from melting permafrost as a source of green energy

  • how to use sustainable materials to design textiles and make them a preferred choice

  • how we create healthcare solutions for elderly citizens that involve people and maintain their dignity

  • that developing traditional handicrafts can be a starting point for women to start a local business

  • how novel solutions can ensure that people everywhere have access to clean water

  • design solutions can tackle the problem of over production of food or food waste and encourage people to share food resources to combat hunger

  • the design of lighting in the class room can be used to reduce noise levels and encourage calm and concentration in schools

  • research can find a way to use the waste from fish farms to fuel biogas energy

  • major architectural projects - changing the use of large but now redundant buildings - can reduce inequalities by enabling everyone in a community to participate

  • hemp can be an alternative to cotton because cultivation requires less water and less fertilisers

Each project is shown across two large panels for maximum impact but are repeated - two or more projects to a panel - on the side of the exhibition towards the pavement - where the text is in English.

There are important statements here from Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen, Director of the School of Architecture; Mathilde Aggebo, Director of the Design School; Rikke Bjarnhof, Director of the School of Conservation and Lene Dammand Lund, Rector of KADK. 

 

Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering
The Royal Danish Academy Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation

the exhibition of graduate projects from KADK in Rigsdagsgården
the courtyard in front of the parliament building in Copenhagen
continues until 30 June 2019

 

select any image to open in a slide show

 

Sustainable Chairs at Designmuseum Danmark

At the end of last year, the Nordic Council of Ministers held an open competition for the design of sustainable chairs with one winner chosen from each of the Nordic countries.

Judges considered the sourcing of materials; the energy required in production and distribution; consideration of disposal at the end of the life of the chair and general compliance with the United Nations 17 goals for sustainability.

At the beginning of December, winning designs were shown in the Nordic Pavilion at COP 24 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice in Poland.

The overall winner was the Danish entry - The Coastal Chair by Nikolaj Thrane Carlsen.

This competition was organised in partnership with the Nordic national design associations - Danish Design Center, Svensk Form, DOGA in Norway, Ornamo in Finland and The Icelandic Design Centre.

the chairs will be shown in the entrance area of
the design museum in Copenhagen
until 26 May 2019

Designmuseum Danmark


 

Petite
David Ericsson
Sweden

beech
components reduced to use less materials and light - just 2.5 kilo

 

 

Tangform
Nikolaj Thrane Carlsen
Denmark

shell eelgrass and carrageenan extracted from red algae
frame recycled from bamboo floorboards

 

 
 

Håg Capisco
Peter Opsvik
Norway

recycled plastic from household waste
no glue or harmful chemicals
durable, easy to disassemble and repairable
manufactured by HÅG/Flokk


 

Kollhrif
Sölvi Kristjánsson
Iceland

cork and aluminium recycled from 14,400 tea lights
manufactured by Málmsteypan Hella and Portland

 

 
 

Clash 331
Samuli Naamanka
Finland

aspen and birch
thicker at the part of the seat where the legs are glued so subframe not necessary
durable
manufactured by naamanka

The Danish Design Center has posted photographs and information about the ten designs in the finals in each country:
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden