Boliger til Folket / Housing for the People

 

 

A small but important exhibition of photographs of housing estates built in Denmark in the 1940s and 1950s has just opened in the central library in Copenhagen. 

Along with a seminar, the exhibition was organised to show the growing appreciation of both the quality and the architectural significance of these apartment buildings but also to focus attention on a significant period of social and political changes in the country after the war ... the period when the welfare state was established and when old and overcrowded housing in the centre of historic cities and towns were demolished.  Good examples of the new apartment blocks in the city include the Dronningegård housing scheme in Copenhagen by Kay Fisker - but new, carefully-planned, suburbs were also built beyond old city boundaries including new apartment buildings as at Ibstrupparken in Gentofte by Arne Jacobsen.

Many of the these estates of houses from the 1940s and 1950s were built in brick and were designed by the best architects in the country to provide well-built housing for all in what has been described as the golden age of Danish architecture.

 

The exhibition was funded by Realdania, Grundejernes Investringsfond and Landsbyggefonden with the Department of Culture and continues at the central library in Copenhagen until 26 March 2017

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Ofelia Plads Copenhagen

 

 

Work on Ofelia Plads - a large, new public space in Copenhagen - has just been completed. 

To the north of Skuespilhuset (the Royal Danish Theatre or Playhouse) is a 19th-century staithe or pier that was constructed parallel to the shore with a basin, Kvæsthusbassinet, and a wharf with a large brick warehouse, now the Admiral Hotel, on the west side and the main channel of the harbour to its east and most recently it was used as the dock for ferries to and from Oslo and to and from the Baltic islands and ports. In an ambitious and extensive engineering project that has just been completed, the pier has been excavated or hollowed out to create a large car park that has three levels below ground (or, perhaps it’s more important to point out, there are three levels below water level in the harbour) and the surface then reinstated with a number of simple, small, low, new, metal clad structures for staircase entrances to the parking levels and ventilation systems.

 
 

a photograph from about 1900 showing just how busy the pier was when ships docked on both sides were loaded and unloaded

 
 

This hardly sounds devastating or dramatic in terms of city architecture but it actually shows Danish engineering design and urban planning at its very best - very, very well thought through; carefully and efficiently executed and with no attempt or need to show, in any flashy way, just how much money was spent. In fact the project was a gift to the city through a collaboration between the Ministry of Culture and Realdania.

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Realdania Kvæsthusprojektet

Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter