Copenhagen: Solutions for Sustainable cities - a report from Arup


This report from the engineering consultants ARUP sets out many of the important principles that now guide planning policies for the city of Copenhagen.

It has a short introduction by Frank Jensen - the major of Copenhagen - where he writes about the efficient use of limited resources and concludes that "It was thought that environmentally friendly development would limit economic growth. However, quite the reverse turns out to be true. Green growth can, indeed, boost economic development and the quality of life .… the business of introducing sustainability into the city poses very different issues than affecting it in the country as a whole … and require city specific solutions."

The report sets out the problems and some of the solutions that the city has adopted - often through the use of innovative technology - and the achievements, in terms of environmental gains, along with lessons to be learnt.

There are good, clear graphics, a lot of information and interesting details about projects under eight main sections.

Headings for those sections of the report give a good indication of priorities for the city, in terms of sustainability, both now and for the future ….

THE HARBOUR TURNS BLUE
MEETING THE RISING DEMAND FOR WATER
CYCLING: THE FAST WAY FORWARD
TRANSPORT: THE GREEN LIGHT
MAKING THE MOST OF WASTE
THE FORCE OF PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR WIND POWER
KEEPING THE CITY WARM EFFICIENTLY
KEEPING COOL UNDER CO2 PRESSURE 


ARUP - Copenhagen: Solutions for Sustainable cities

ARUP publications

 

just a few of the facts:

  • 22% of Denmark's total electrical consumption is produced from wind turbines … the highest proportion in the World

  • there are 42 kilometres of Greenways through the city where cycling is prioritised

  • waste sent to landfill is now less than 5% of the amount dealt with in that way in 1988

  • the city heating system is one of the largest in the World and supplies 500,000 people with reliable and affordable heating

 
 

Dorotheavej apartments by BIG

 

 

This new apartment building on Dorotheavej - affordable housing designed by Bjarke Ingels Group - has just been nominated for the Bygningspræmiering - the annual city architectural award.

Out to the north-west of the city centre, just over 4 kilometres from city hall, this is an interesting area just below Bispebjerg and Nordvest cemetery, with a mixture of older apartment buildings and new apartment developments but also older industrial buildings on either side of a main road and, to the west, just beyond this site, low suburban housing.

The main road, Frederiksborgvej runs north - climbing up the long slope up to Bispebjerg - and Dorotheavej is on the west side, itself rising up a slope across the hill, with the new apartment building just in from the main road and on a very wide site with a long frontage to the street that faces south.

The form of the block is a long, gentle and sinuous curve back away from the street towards the centre but hard against the pavement at each end with the area in front planted with grass and trees. There is a high and wide archway through to the back of the building at the point where that curve is furthest back from the street.

The apartments have the typical through form - typical for Copenhagen - so here with a series of seven separate entrances along the façade and each giving access to a staircase with an apartment on each side at each level those apartments are relatively narrow but deep and run through from front to back of the block. 

 

Sustainable Cities

 

“This exhibition has been created by a group of young crusaders who are passionate about making society better. It is the result of a collaboration with Roskilde Festival, which every year builds a temporary city with its own unique brand of broad-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Here, young people can get involved, party and celebrate their freedom. This exhibition is a product of the spirit: They have been invited to speak out - to share their ideas for our common future.”

 

Sustainable Cities
continues at Danish Architecture Centre In Copenhagen
until 2 June 2019

 

How to Build a Good City - Jan Gehl on Louisiana Channel

 

If you don’t know Copenhagen well, or if you have not come across the work of Jan Gehl and his approach to planning in the city, then a good place to start is with How to Build a Good City - an interview with Gehl that was posted last year on Louisiana Channel.

I have been meaning for some time to post a link here to Louisiana Channel. This is an important and fascinating series of on-line films and long interviews from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and although, as you would expect, many of the interviews relate directly to exhibitions at the museum or to the works of artists in their collection, the films range widely in their subjects and locations … there are interviews with leading architects and designers, including several with Bjarke Ingels, a series of interviews about the work of Jørn Uttzon and an interview, posted recently, is with Kim Herforth Nielsen of the architectural practice 3XN about their designs for the new Fish Market in Sydney.

 

Louisiana Channel

Tredje Natur - Bright Blue Visions

 

Tracking back a reference to the work by Tredje Natur on climate paving I came across Bright Blue Visions - an article they posted in 2013 with proposals for development of the harbour with new islands for sport and for a nature reserve for nesting birds as well as a park adjoining the Opera House that could be used for outdoor performances and a centre in the basin at Kroyers Plads to promote Danish advances in water technology. Their important argument was that the harbour is a common resource.

My main reservation is that, although the harbour is a major resource and there has been a long tradition of the city claiming new land from the sea, the harbour is also a phenomenal asset as a major and impressive open space where sports and events and recreational boating and swimming can all be staged but without substantial and long-term structures.

As with the new bridges over the harbour, what is undermined is the sense of space - a threatened asset in any city - and a feeling that the harbour - after all still open to the sea - could become domesticated or tamed and contained and divided up - so little more than a larger version of the lakes across the north side of the inner city.

Tredje Natur

chair for the Thorvaldsen Museum by Kaare Klint 1923

This chair was designed by Kaare Klint in 1923 for the office of the Thorvaldesn Museum in Copenhagen * and made by N C Jensen Kjær. In style, it looks back to the chair that Klint designed for the museum at Faaborg in 1914. 

Made in burl oak, the frame has a distinct, sharply-curved, and high back support. As with the chairs for the museum in Faaborg, both the front and back legs are continued up to support a curved and horizontal rail for a back rest and there are intermediate rails, half way between the seat and the top rail, but with the upper parts here filled with thin curved panels of wood held in channels in the frame - rather than the cane work of the Faaborg Chair.

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WORKS + WORDS

At KADK on Danneskiod-Sasøes Allé in Copenhagen … an exhibition to show a wide variety of recent experiments and research projects in architecture from architects and teachers from the Royal Academy itself and from the School of Architecture in Aarhus and the School of Architecture and Design in Oslo. 

This is about research into how we can design better buildings now and in the future: “the artistic experiment is … an important cornerstone of KADK's architectural and design education and is a central part of KADK's community commitment as an educational institution. “

This is the first in what will be a biennial event and continues at KADK until 5 May 2017

... of balconies and bays in the 1930s

 
  1. H C Ørsteds Vej by Thorkild Henningsen 1931

  2. Store Mølle Vej by Frode Galatius 1938

  3. Storgården housing scheme by Povl Baumann & Knud Hansen 1935

  4. Ved Volden, Christianshavn by Tyge Hvass and Henning Jørgensen 1938

  5. Sortedams Dossering by Ib Lunding completed in 1938

 

Extensive use of concrete and steel for the construction of buildings in the 20th century - from the late 1920s onwards - meant that the outside walls - the facades of a building - became less crucial for supporting the weight of walls and the upper structure - particularly the weight of the roof - and walls could be broken through and pierced with larger and wider openings until the outside wall can, in some buildings, disappear completely with all the weight of the building taken on piers in steel or concrete that were set within the building or with the structure depending on strong internal cross walls.

Particularly for apartment buildings this meant that wider and wider windows could be constructed, sometimes in metal, often made in a factory - even when they are in wood - and then brought to the site, so standardised and by using reinforced concrete, balconies could be cantilevered out from the facades and became larger and, in many buildings, much larger so that they become a dominant feature.

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Torvegade in Copenhagen ... city planning from the 1930s

 

This post was inspired by a stroll over Knippelsbro - walking back to Christianshavn from the centre of the city in clear but soft late-afternoon sunlight.  

Knippelsbro is the central bridge over the harbour in Copenhagen and I have walked over the bridge dozens and dozens of times - I live just a block back from the bridge - but the sun was relatively low and lighting up the north side of Torvegade - the main street cutting south through Christianshavn from the bridge. The traffic was light so it seemed like a good opportunity to take a photograph.

It was only then that it really registered, for the first time, that here is a long line of very large apartment buildings and all dating from the 1930s.

Five large apartment blocks in a straight line - two buildings between the wide road sloping down from the bridge and the canal and then three more beyond the canal before the old outer defences of Christianshavn and the causeway to Amager. Five large city blocks over a distance of well over 400 metres and cutting straight through the centre of the planned town laid out by Christian IV in the early 17th century?

Clearly, this is city planning from the 1930s on a massive scale and not something I had seen written about in any of the usual guide books or architectural histories.

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Functionalism - apartment buildings in Copenhagen in the 1930s

Grønne Funkishus Nordre Fasanvej 78-82

 

In Copenhagen, there is a clear change from the apartments buildings that were constructed in the late 19th century and early 20th century and the apartment buildings from the 1920s and 1930s. 

In the 19th century each building was different from the next, often with relatively ornate doorways, carvings and complex mouldings for the street frontage and inside the arrangement of the apartments was often dictated by a narrow plot with existing buildings on either side that determined where and how windows to the back could be arranged. Even within a building, there were often differences between one floor and the next in both ceiling heights and in the quality of fittings. 

By the 1920s, plans of individual apartments became simpler and they were generally more compact and certainly more rational in their arrangement of the rooms and staircases. Because many of these new buildings were on new sites outside the old city, or if they were within the city a whole block could be cleared of old buildings, so there is generally a greater sense of uniformity within larger and larger buildings. 

In part, this was because, in this period immediately after the First World War, there was a severe housing shortage and, to a considerable extent, the functionalism and the adoption of new building techniques was driven by a need to build as many apartments as possible and as quickly as possible.

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restoration and inspiration - the mast sheds on Holmen

 

The Masteskure - the mast sheds - close to the new opera house in Copenhagen - are on the south side of Galionsvej at the harbour end. There are seven sheds in a row each about 10 metres wide and just under 40 metres long with the narrow ends to the harbour with wide double doors to each shed. They were built in 1748 and were used to store the masts and spars of the naval ships … the masts and rigging were dismantled and stored and only re-fitted as the ships were prepared for battle. In line to the south is a later taller building now with two floors dating from 1829 and called the Mærshuset. This translates as maiden's house … the maiden apparently being the round look-out platform towards the top of a mast.

The buildings were restored by the architects Frank Maali and Gemma Lalanda and the work was completed in 2009. Land around the buildings had risen over the years so they were raised up by just over 80cm so they do not appear to be in a hollow.

Work included new gullies and drains and roof lights set back so they are not obvious from the quay. The rain water is thrown out from hoppers into a cobble-lined gulley around the building and there are steps and landings in corten at each door.

The restoration is striking and in a typically Danish way introduces innovative and good modern elements to allow the buildings to be used now as offices and showrooms. The architects were nominated for the prestigious Mies van der Rohe Prize for this work.

more photographs

Frank Maali and Gemma Lalanda architects

Hal C Arsenaløen - Christianshavn sports hall

 

from Værftbroen - looking along the canal towards the sports hall

On the opposite bank of the canal to Kids' City in Copenhagen - the school designed by COBE - is a local sports hall called Hal C that was designed by the architects Christensen & Co and completed 2013.

There is a large sports hall open to the roof at the east end that is lit by large tall windows on both sides - to the canal and towards the playing field to the north - arranged in pairs. All these opening have large plain shutters that open outwards and these and the deep red timber cladding are inspired by the 18th-century mast sheds nearby.

The west end of the sports hall is on two floors with an entrance lobby at the corner, glazed on two sides, and offices and changing rooms on the ground floor and a small hall or meeting room on the first floor.

In keeping with the beautifully simple exterior the interior has large area of plain panels much pierced and a very simple straight staircase with a plain solid side panel but the railings of the landings are rather more complicated open grill.

The building makes really good use of natural lighting inside. The sports hall has areas of top lighting. On both sides of the sports hall are wide wood step where spectators can sit and on the canal side there are steps along the length of the building where people sit and a series of landings down to the canal.

 

Christensen & Co

a new bridge across the canal from Kids' City

the windows and shutters of the main sports hall from the other side of the canal

entrance at the south-west corner

large windows to the sports hall on the side towards the canal with pairs of shutters

windows and shutters of the main sports hall from the playing field to the east

From Infrastructure to Public Space*

 

Dronning Louises Bro in the evening from the city side

Our Urban Living Room, is an exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre about the work of the Copenhagen architectural studio COBE with a book of the same title published to coincide with the exhibition, and both are subtitled Learning from Copenhagen.

A general theme that runs through the exhibition is about the importance of understanding a city as a complex man-made environment to show how good planning and the construction of good buildings, with the support of citizens, can create better public spaces that improve and enhance our lives.

One graphic in the exhibition, in a section about infrastructure, shows Dronning Louises Bro (Queen Louise’s Bridge) as the lanes of traffic were divided in the 1980s and compares that with how the space of the road is now organised.  

The stone bridge, in its present form dating from the late 19th century, crosses an arc of large lakes on the west side of the city centre and is the main way into the centre of Copenhagen from the north so many people have to cross the lakes on their commute into the city in the morning and then again in the evening as they head home. In the 1980s vehicles were given priority with 6 lanes for traffic - two lanes of cars in each direction and in the centre a tram lane in bound and a tram lane heading out - so the pavements on each side were just 3 metres wide and cyclists had to compete for space with cars.  

Now, the width of the lanes given over to vehicles has been narrowed down to just 7 metres in the middle for a single lane for driving into the city and a single lane heading out but on each side there are dedicated bike lanes that are each 4 metres wide and then generous pavements that are 5 metres wide on each side of the bridge for pedestrians. So the space for cars and the space for pedestrians and cyclists has been swapped around. The bridge is just as busy - if not busier - with an almost-unbelievable 36,000 or more cyclists crossing each day and the pavements are actually a popular place for people to meet up … particularly in the summer when the north side of the bridge catches the evening sun so people sit on the parapet or sit on the pavement, leaning back against the warm stonework, legs stretched out, to sunbathe, chat or have a drink.

 

 

graphic showing changes made to the width of the traffic lanes over the bridge ... taken from an information panel for the exhibition Our Urban Living Room at the Danish Architecture Centre

 

the bridge looking towards the Søtorv apartments on the city side

 

* the title of this post is a section heading from the exhibition Our Urban Living Room and a chapter heading in the catalogue

Kids' City Christianshavn

 

the front of the school to Prinsessegade - the yellow box-girder structure is courts for sports over the main entrance and the glass roof structure is a greenhouse over the restaurant

The first stages of Kids’ City - buildings along Princessegade in Christianshavn in Copenhagen - have opened although there is still construction work on part of the site and work on hard landscaping and planting is ongoing but already it is clear that the design of this new school will be innovative and inspiring. 

When finished there will be up to 750 children here, ranging in age from babies in the pre-school area through to young adults of 17 or 18 in their last years of schooling so Kids’ City will be the largest ‘pre school and youth club’ in Denmark. 

That presented COBE, the architects, with distinct challenges. On a relatively tight plot of around 11,000 square metres, the buildings have to be extensive but have to allow for as much space as possible outside for sport and play and other activities. As a single unified block it could have been over bearing and even rather daunting for small children but this school also has to provide an appropriate setting and the right facilities for such a broad range of age groups that it could never be a place where a one-class-room-fits-all approach was possible.

The solution has been to link together a number of simple blocks, most of two stories and some with gabled roofs and some set at angles to create groups and small courtyards and to treat the site as a small city with different neighbourhoods and public spaces. The separate parts are even described as if they are the distinct and recognisable elements of a diverse but well-established community so rather than an assembly hall or school hall there is a Town Hall; rather than a dining hall or canteen there is a restaurant,  and there will be a stadium and a library and a museum and even a fire station and a factory.

Play and fun are an incredibly important part of the whole scheme so there will be a beach along a canal where there will be canoes and places to have a bonfire "to roast marsh-mallows." 

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Krøyers Plads

As at the Pakhus by Lundgaard and Tranberg on Langeliniekaj, the development designed by Cobe and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects at Krøyers Plads takes the historic brick warehouses along the inner harbour in Copenhagen as inspiration but the interpretation could hardly be more different.

Where the starting point for the Langelinie Pakhus was the scale of the earlier warehouses but otherwise the site was open with few other buildings to take into account, the Krøyers Plads site is at the centre of the harbour and within the historic district of Christianshavn and previous designs by a number of different architects for the development have been much more difficult and controversial.

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