TINY [BAU]HAUS at Designmuseum Danmark

This is a small travelling exhibition produced by a number of regional tourist organisations from Germany to promote the centenary anniversary year of the founding of the Bauhaus.

It was or should have been a good idea … a small simple pavilion transported from city to city to encourage tourists to visit exhibitions and buildings throughout Germany that are marking the achievements of this important design school that had and still has a remarkable influence on design practice and design teaching. 

The small pavilion - created by DUS Architects from Amsterdam - is in part digitally printed, and uses materials that can be recycled and, with a foot print of eight square metres, has associated itself with the Tiny House movement so should tick the boxes.

And maybe there is an excuse because it is at the end of a long Europe wide tour because this is the last venue after Paris, Rotterdam, Barcelona, Marseille, Vienna, Prague, Budapest and Belgrade but it was certainly looking tired and worn from its journey.

The design appears to be only vaguely inspired by the Bauhaus - the fake-wood printed plastic lining of the interior seemed particularly inappropriate - and it is stretching it a little to claim that this is an example of Gesamtkunstwerck unless you assume that means simply designing the whole thing rather than meaning designing with care every feature and fitting to make a unified interior or building.

Films shown on the video inside whisked through material - some with avatars of key designers from the school and most changing images so quickly that clearly the aim was to speed ahead of kids with attention deficit disorder - and there were unfortunate phrases in the voice over like mentioning that the school “closed its doors in 1933.” 

Printed hand outs from Dessau and Saxony-Annalt have good photographs and well-produced introductions but generally this is an unnecessary distraction from the important exhibition in the design museum itself.

TINY [BAU]HAUS on the road
is on the entrance court of the design museum
from 3 October to 31 October 2019


Large Pots at Designmuseum Danmark

Designmuseum Danmark has just opened a new display in one of the large side galleries with 70 ceramic vessels from their own collection and described simply as large pots.

They vary in period and in country of origin but most are by Danish potters and artists and most are from the late 19th century onwards although there are also older ceramic vessels from Japan, Korea and China and work from Spain, France and England … all countries with strong but distinct ceramic traditions.

Some of the pieces are clearly storage jars - so utilitarian - but there are also sophisticated decorative vessels and some fine studio pottery.

The selection provides an amazing opportunity to see how the skill of the potter; types of glaze; texture and colour and of course form or shape produce works of incredibly diverse types and styles.

Designmuseum Danmark


Autumn is here


With Kulturnatten this Friday, it feels as if we are definitely into Autumn.

There are still a lot of tourists here but there is a marked change as outdoor tables at cafes and restaurants are packed away or blankets and heaters are brought out but, if you find a spot in the sun, then it’s still pleasant to sit outside for a morning coffee.

The leaves are beginning to change but it will be a week or perhaps more before the parks in the city and the forests out at Klampenborg and Charlottenlund take on their full Autumn colours.

For me, the light at this time of year shows the city at it’s best. There can often be clear bright, deep blue skies and, with the sun now lower in the sky, even in the middle of the day, the shadows are rich and heavy so architecture and sculpture around the city looks fantastic for photographs. Of course, evenings arrive earlier and earlier but in that transition from late afternoon to early evening the light over the water of the harbour and the lakes is amazing and even rain can mean striking dark grey skies.


Kulturnatten / The Night of Culture on Friday 11 October

Kulturnatten 2019.jpeg

Kulturnatten has been an annual event in the city for 26 years and is on the Friday at the start of the Autumn break for schools.

More than 250 museums, theatres, libraries, churches, government ministries, city institutions, including the city hall and the court houses, and parks open for the evening with special events, displays, lectures and tours to show what they do and why.

There is street food and often drinks and food in the venues themselves. Entrance is free with the culture pass - this year just 95 kroner for adults - and with that pass all public transport around the city is free.

With so many events and spread around the city - from Frederiksberg and through the historic centre and down to Amager - its sensible to look at the programme and plan a route around what you want to see. Nearly everything starts at 6pm and runs through to at least 10pm with many continuing on to midnight or later. It is a huge and popular evening for families and this really is Copenhagen at its best and most open and most friendly.

Kulturnatten PROGRAMME


Realdania at Jarmers Plads - seating to promote the UN sustainable development goals

Established in 2000, Realdania are a philanthropic association with the mission to improve the quality of life through their projects in the built environment. They support major projects and have an extensive programme to produce reports and research publications.

Their offices are at Jarmers Plads in Copenhagen and in the public square at the front of the building they have installed wood bench seating and planters around a large circle to set out the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals adopted formally by World leaders at a summit in September 2015.

earlier posts:
KADK graduates and UN Sustainable Development Goals

Realdania report - Baseline for the Global Goals in Denmark
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
the 17 Goals


new podcasts from Designmuseum Danmark

The Danish Design Museum in Copenhagen has just produced three podcasts in English as an introduction to Danish design. Click on the image here or on the link below to go to the page on the Designmuseum Danmark site.

These podcasts provide a really good general introduction to the history and to the evolution of modern design in Denmark and some context with a short history of the museum itself and an introduction to the teaching of design. Excellent if you are preparing to visit the museum or equally good if, following a visit, you are looking to understand more.

I hope this is a first step and they will publish more on line - podcasts and videos - because the design museum has excellent historic films and an archive of material produced for exhibitions that are important asa source for more information and as a starting point for further research.

Designmuseum Danmark - first podcasts


Live Like Tomorrow

Copenhagen is to host the C40 World Mayors Summit for 2019

The host-city festival - Live Like Tomorrow - will run through four days from Wednesday 9 October to Saturday 12 October with a full programme of events around the city and the harbour that will be a “living lab of sustainable solutions and debates on how we can all step up and start creating the future we want.”

programme of events


Danske Kunsthåndværke & Designere - journal archive

Danske Kunsthåndværkere & Designere - the Danish Association of Craft and Design or K&D - have just announced that they are to digitize their journals …. an extensive collection of magazines from 1948 to 2016 including interviews and articles.

These will include:

  • Danish crafts, 1948-1968

  • Danish Applied Arts - Journal of Arts and Design, 1969-1972

  • BID, Applied Arts and Industrial Design, 1973

  • Danish Form, 1974

  • Danish Crafts and Industrial Design, 1975

  • Information from the Danish Kunsthåndværkere, 1976-1981

  • Danish Kunsthåndværkere, 1982-1985

  • Danish Crafts, 1986-2003

  • Kunstuff, Danish Crafts and Design, 2004-2009 and anniversary edition 2016

On-line access will be a major resource for designers and historians.

follow progress at dkod.dk

Den Danske Model / The Danish Model

Since the Danish Architecture Center moved to their new building, in addition to a series of major exhibitions, there have been small displays and video presentations in lobbies, on staircases and spaces around the building that have included video interviews with Danish designers and architects and areas with examples of classic Danish furniture.

With the large exhibition on the work of the architecture studio BIG - Forgiving - From Big Bang to Singularity - now occupying so much of the exhibition space then the more general introduction to Danish architecture and design is currently in The Hall - the area above the main exhibition space that can be used as a venue or conference space or lecture theatre.

Made in Denmark has a number of long banner panels - with interesting quotes about design from Martin Nyrup, Jens Thomas Arnfred, Anders Lendager and others - and they are also showing the short film The Danish Model.

Obviously, the film is best seen on a large screen but as this part of the exhibition programme will change in October and, as it is an extremely good introduction to modern Danish design, then the link to the film through vimeo is included here.


BIG will be less big

PLAY - the section of the exhibition in the Golden Gallery

model in LEGO of the new headquarters for LEGO designed by BIG

Formgiving - from Big Bang to Singularity - the current exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre on the work of the Danish architecture practice BIG - the Bjarke Ingels Group - is ….…. well the best word is big.

It has taken over nearly all the exhibition space in the new building. It's in the lobby from the underground car park; it's by the ticket desk; it climbs up the main staircase and on the way fills the smaller exhibition space known as the Golden Gallery; fills the main exhibition area - literally from floor to ceiling - and then comes down through the different separate landings of the staircase that takes visitors back down to the shop and then the exit.

The exhibition will continue until the 12 January 2020 but actually this is the last few weeks to see the full exhibition because on 20 October the part titled PLAY in the Golden Gallery will be dismantled for a new exhibition - the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition that will open on the 8 November - and the part of the exhibition down the staircase to return to the shop will revert to the exhibition space for the Dreyer’s Gallery that showcases the work of young, newly-established architects.

The part of the BIG exhibition titled Play in the Golden Gallery is part of the introduction to the main exhibition and this is where there are a series of models of key building from BIG that are made from LEGO and with stacks of LEGO bricks in the centre for children (of all ages) to try their hand at designing and building.

The landings on the narrow staircase back down show the possible future for the architecture practice under the titles THINK, SENSE, MAKE and MOVE as you descend and looks at how architecture could develop to end with ideas about moving a colony of people to Mars. BIG think big.

Formgiving - from Big Bang to Singularity
Danish Architecture Center
Dreyer’s Gallery


Cityringen / The City Ring

Today - Sunday 29 September 2019 - Cityringen / The City Ring - the new metro line in Copenhagen opened with a ceremony on the square in front of city hall. For the afternoon and through to midnight transport around the city was free and people were out in large numbers to see and to use the new stations and the extended train system.

Construction work started over eight years ago so citizens are now reclaiming large parts of the streetscape and squares of their city that have been fenced off behind high green hoardings as the seventeen new stations were constructed.

Bus routes too will alter drastically on 13 October with fewer buses actually crossing the city … buses will come in to a station on metro City Ring and then head back out again or will run around the edge of the city centre rather than cutting across. So, inevitably, over the coming months and years, the ways in which people move around and through the city will change.

There will be major interchanges at Kongens Nytorv and Frederiksberg where the existing lines and the new metro circle line intersect and major interchanges to other forms of transport at the new metro stations at existing stations for suburban and country-wide trains at Østerport, Nørreport and the central railway station.

All these new stations have extensive areas for leaving bicycles at street level or underground so it is clear that people will make their journeys by swapping from bike to metro to foot to bus or whatever combination makes for the best or the easiest or quickest route.

The engineering work - constructing over 15 kilometres of tunnels and huge excavations below street level for the new stations much of the work below important historic buildings, below residential area, under the canals or under existing infrastructure of water pipes, sewage pipes and so on - is clearly very very impressive but, and quite deliberately, the new stations follow the form of the existing stations so are relatively low key at street level with simple glass boxes over the lifts to the platforms and simple steps down and, for most stations, glass pyramids that throw light down into the station concourses below.

But that does not mean that the stations will not have a huge impact as most have been constructed along with dramatic improvements to the squares and streets around the station so, over the coming years, the real change will be in the ways that the metro will revitalise and transform some areas of the city - areas such as the newly renovated square and the streets around Enghave Plads or the area around Trianglen - and the metro will mean quicker and easier access to and from the densely-occupied residential areas of Vesterbro and Nørrebro and - with the next phase of work - the new residential areas of the north and south harbour …. planning that has been described by the newspaper Politiken as “binding together the suburbs.”.

the Copenhagen metro

the impressive new concourse below Kongens Nytorv and the area to leave a bicycle below street level at Marmorkirken / The Marble Church

you can be certain that it will never be possible to take a photograph like this again ….. that is with the cycle store empty


De Forenede Sejlskibe / The United Sailing Ships

Three ships of De Forenede Sejlskibe - United Sailing Ships - are berthed at the quay across the front of the large brick warehouses that wa built as grain stores in the 1780s but is now the Admiral Hotel.

The schooners are the freighters Mira built in 1898 and Halmø from 1900 - both from the shipyards of Rasmus Møller in Faaborg - and the training ship Lilla Dan built in Svendborg in 1951.

In talking about modern design in posts here, much is made of functionality, materials, technology and quality of production but of course these are hardly new concepts. Generally Functionalism describes a style of architecture and design from the early decades of the last century but describing something as functional can now be almost pejorative - implying it’s something slightly basic that works - anything from an orange squeezer to a stripped down and basic kitchen - almost as if buying something that actually works properly is surprising and might even be worth using as a sale pitch.

But in the design and construction of these ships, functionalism and well-crafted and hard-wearing fittings were not primarily about aesthetics but rather a matter of life and death and profit … the parts, and therefore the ship as a whole, had to be robust and, to be efficient and, generally, had to be managed by the smallest number of crew possible. That they are also strikingly beautiful is a bonus that reflects the skill of the craftsmen and the quality of the materials they used.

If you want to trace through how the specific qualities of materials along with craft or manufacturing skills focused on function for the starting point that determines form of a design and how function and form and materials and techniques for working those materials are a framework or control for the design and all working together then a good place to start is to look carefully at an old water mill or a windmill or an early steam engine or, as here, at hand-built sailing ships. Not just at the separate parts but at how the whole functioned.

The harbour has become more and more sanitised and being given the opportunity to see working ships should remind people that the bustle and noise of goods being loaded and unloaded on these wharfs and dock basins was the reason that the city is here and that was the source of its wealth and significance.

De Forenede Sejlskibe

select an image to open photographs in a slide show

the quay in the late 19th century where Skuespilhuset - the Playhouse of the National Theatre - stands now, looking towards north east towards the sound with the buildings of Kvæsthus to the left that in this view hide the warehouse and the quay that is now the Admiral Hotel

masted trading ships at the quay in front of Børsen - The Copenhagen Exchange - in the 1890s


The Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde

There is growing controversy about the future of the Viking Museum in Roskilde.

The ship hall designed by Erik Christian Sørensen was completed in 1968 to house the remains of five Viking-age ships that were discovered and recovered from the Roskilde Fjord in the 1950s.

It is a stark concrete building - some would say brutal - but it provides a dramatic setting for the archaeological displays with a wall of glass that looks north out to the sea.

But there are serious problems with the concrete - with water damage and iron reinforcements too close to the surface - and, because the necessary repairs would be prohibitively expensive, permission has been given, with some reluctance, for the building to be demolished even though it was given protection status in 1998.

Now, a European conservation group has listed the Ship Hall as one of the top 100 modern concrete buildings in Europe and it is not clear quite what the museum and the government agency responsible for historic buildings - Slots og Kulturstyrelsen - will do now.

ØsterGRO to remain?

The well-known and well-used garden on the large flat roof above three floors of offices in Æbelgade has been under threat of closure.

When it opened in 2014 for temporary planning permission was for two years and the obligation to provide a set number of parking places for cars - a crucial part of city planning law to control on-street parking - was waived but with an application to extend that planning permission it seemed impossible, however the city tried, to circumvent that parking requirement.

Now it seems as if a way round the requirement has been found and it looks as if the vegetable gardens and the restaurant can remain.

earlier post here:
ØsterGRO in Østerbro

ØsterGRO, Æbeløgade 4, Copenhagen


NATUR KULTUR OBJEKT - works by Turi Heisselberg Pedersen and Marianne Krumbach

Ann Linnemann Gallery

Natur Kultur Objekt at the Ann Linnemann Gallery in Kronprinsessegade shows the work of two ceramicists - Turi Heisselberg Pedersen and Marianne Krumbach - with ten pieces from each artist. 

These works could hardly be more different in style but it is interesting to see, juxtaposed here, their use of colour and texture and to see how these very sculptural pieces occupy their space.

read more

Ann Linnemann Galleri
Kronprinsessegade 51, København
12 September - 19 October 2019


gingham - furniture under wraps

A major exhibition on art in Denmark in the first half of the 19th century - the period described as the Golden Age of Danish art - has just opened at Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery in Copenhagen.

It sets the paintings in the context of the political history of a period bookended by war and looks at the influence of the Royal Academy; at teaching; at the influence of travel as Danish artists went abroad, to Italy in particular, and looks at how the artists lived and worked … with paintings and drawings of artists at work in their studios.

The exhibition is an opportunity to look at paintings as a record of life in the city through that period, with paintings that record interiors and streetscapes that have gone or have been changed dramatically.

This painting by Martinus Rørbye from 1827 shows his teacher, The Painter Christian August Lorentzen and is on loan for the exhibition from the Nivagaard Collection.

Note the old arm chair that appears to have been covered originally in green silk but by the time it has been moved to the studio of the artist it appears to be permanently covered in its gingham slip covers.

In England, through the 18th century and at this period in the first half of the 19th century, wealthy landowners spent time away from their main houses in the country and, often for many months, lived in houses in London or they travelled “for the season” to cities like Bath or Harrogate or even to the seaside at Brighton, and when they were elsewhere, their homes were shut up and expensive furniture was usually protected with slip covers in calico or heavy cotton - often in gingham. There could even be long thin bags in the material that were drawn up around heavy silk curtains and secured at the top with tapes or plain ribbons. Presumably, in Denmark, the wealthy followed the same or similar habits of housekeeping but as silk covers got dirty or frayed - silk splits or breaks apart with strong sunlight - then these temporary covers that had been made to fit the specific chair, would have become more practical as permanent covers.

Note the construction of the chair with low-set and staggered stretchers between the legs … set higher at the front, where you tuck your feet back under as you stand up, and at the back than at the sides so the legs are not made weaker by putting the mortices for the ends of the stretchers too close together. The L-shaped arm rest is a crude precursor of the ‘classic’ mid 20th-century chair by Ole Wanscher.

The fur-lined leather slippers are fantastic.

Danish Golden Art - World-class art between disasters continues at
Statens Mueum for Kunst in Copenhagen
until 8 December 2019

detail of the painting by Matrinus Rørbye of The Painter Christian August Lorentzen



Gingham is a distinct material with a small pattern of squares that is created in the weave and is generally in strong simple colours so red and white or blue and white or strong, deep yellow and white squares. It is popular throughout Scandinavia and, along with simple stripe patterns, gingham is probably most often used for curtains and covers in rural homes such as summer cottages or farmhouses.

restored sculpture

The grand entrance to the Royal Danish Theatre on Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen is flanked by statues of seated figures from the history of Danish drama and literature.

To the right, is the Norwegian author, philosopher and playwright Ludwig Holberg (1684-1754) by the Danish sculptor Theobald Stein (1829-1901) - a professor at the Royal Danish Academy, nearby on this square. The bronze statue is dated 1875.

On the left of the entrance is the Danish poet and playwright Adam Oehlenschläger (1779-1850) by the sculptor H W Bissen (1798-1868) and that work is dated 1861.

Over the summer both were boxed in behind large wooden cases as the two bronze figures were restored and they have recently been revealed free of verdigris and with all the details now clear.

I have walked past these figures thousands of times but not looked or, at least, not looked properly at them. Struck by the transformation it was clear that both show remarkable details of not only the clothing worn but also the chairs and their construction. Holberg is sitting on an ornate arm chair with carved cabriole legs and with the upholstery fixed with round-headed nails and Oehlenschläger is sitting on what is called a Klismos Chair with a pronounced outward curve or splay to the legs. That chair has loose cushions for the seat and back that are obviously leather but I was curious about the classical style roundels on the seat rails that suggest an interesting carpenters join where the rail is housed into a marked shoulder on the leg.

But what really astounded me, looking up underneath the seats, was that both sculptors had shown the linen webbing that would have supported the seat cushion. They even sag under the weight of the sitter. That’s super realism above and beyond and I must now check this out on other statues. I’m an art historian but not one who has ever written much about sculpture, apart from an odd essay or two at university, so if you see someone around the city peering up at the underside of statues it’s not someone with a disturbing fetish but simply me looking to see if the sculptor has recorded any interesting construction details in historic furniture. Honest.


Ludwig Holberg (1684-1754) by the Danish sculptor Theobald Stein (1829-1901)


Adam Oehlenschläger (1779-1850) by the sculptor H W Bissen (1798-1868)


additional notes

The Royal Danish Theatre was founded in November 1747 by royal decree and the foundation stones laid in July 1748 with the first performance given in December the same year. Who says that major building projects always come in late?

That building was designed by Nicolai Eigtved and is shown on historic engravings and drawings but was remodelled several times before the present theatre on the same site was designed by Vilhelm Dahlerup and Ove Petersen among others on a committee set up to oversee rebuilding in the 1870s.

Klismos-type chairs are depicted in art around the city …. this is a decorative panel in Thorvaldsens Museum from the middle of the 19th century.

the Adam Stool

Sculpture is not just an important and useful record of historic styles of furniture and fashion ……

This is a bronze group in the collection of Statens Museum for Kunst - the National Gallery in Copenhagen.

By Gillian Wearing it has the title A real Danish family. Produced in 2017, that is the Adam Stool from the Copenhagen design studio FRAMA.

The shoes are fantastic but surely fashion historians a hundred years from now are going to wonder why collars on shirts were buttoned down and, even if they will work out that it was a feature designed initially to hold a neck tie neatly in place, they would wonder why he is not wearing a tie and as for men rolling up the cuffs and leaving their shirts hanging out … what was that all about?

Statens Museum for Kunst

where do all the tourists go?

Over the last year or so, I have detected a change of attitude about tourism in the city. 

Tourists and visitors to the city, coming for business or for conferences and events, are still an important source of revenue - many in the city are employed in holiday industries, in the hotels, in restaurants and of course shops rely, to some extent, on tourists shopping - but there have been articles in newspapers recently that have stared to question the benefits of tourism and look at the benefits weighed against the cost. 

Pressures from the numbers of tourists visiting Copenhagen are not yet as marked as the more obvious and better publicised problems in cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona or Venice but certainly people have started to question the impact from Airbnb - particularly where complete apartments are now let through much of the year so this has begun to distort the long-term rental market - and some journalists have asked questions about the number of large cruise ships that stop here and about the impact they have through pollution. But the main criticism is that disproportionate numbers of visitors in the city focus their time on remarkably few sites so crowds of tourists are concentrated in areas like Strøget - the Walking Street - Nyhavn, parts of Christianshavn and along the harbour around the Little Mermaid and these parts of the city can be unpleasantly crowded, not just for local people but actually for visitors as well.

There is also a problem with tour buses that want to drop passengers close to main sites but then park waiting for their passengers to return either blocking the bus stops for public transport or by blocking the front of buildings the visitors actually want to see. Recently, I wanted to take a photograph of the front of the Royal Theatre on Kongens Nytorv for a post here but over three days there were at least two tourist buses parked across the front each time I went past.


By coincidence, thinking about this post, I came across a fascinating article on line by Colin Marshall on the Open Culture site from June of this year. He wrote there about 136 maps of major cities across the world produced for a project called Locals and Tourists and published in a larger project The Geotaggers’ World Atlas, by Eric Fisher who has used MapBox, Twitter and data from Gnip to plot photographs taken of cities that have been uploaded to the internet. 

The central area of the Copenhagen map is reproduced here with red indicating photographs that appear to have been taken by tourists while blue are images that are probably by local people - determined primarily because they are Tweeting from the same location for at least a month - and yellow could be either.

When data is presented in this way, it is easy to see the densely-packed areas where most photographs were taken with Nyhavn - the long rectangle at the centre of the map that extends up to large blob that marks Kongens Nytorv - the large public square at the city end of the New Harbour - and just above that there is the distinct shape of the royal palace with the circle of the main square and long narrow strips running out to the right to the harbour in one direction and to the Marble Church in the other. The large public square in front of city hall and, nearby, Tivoli are the densely-packed but slightly more scattered areas of red on the left side of the city centre.

Roads can be picked out clearly and give a framework for location and one interesting feature of the complete map, right, that shows the wider area around the city, is the long narrow line of yellow that is the railway bridge across to Malmö with good and photogenic views of the sound.

The data was collected in 2013 but more recent published data from 2017 corroborates the general conclusions. In that year, there were around 7 million visitors to the city and more than 60% included Nyhavn in their trip so, by rough calculation, that suggests that the number of visitors walking up and down Nyhavn in a year was equal, approximately, to the total population of the country.

With the opening of a new bridge from the end of Nyhavn for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the harbour to Christianshavn, Nyhavn has become not just a destination but also a major route. Shops close to the harbour on the west side of Nyhavn have seen a marked and welcome increase in business and for several shops it has meant the difference between declining trade and the possibility of a failing business before the bridge opened and surviving now.

But an article in Politiken by Søren Astrup in September 2017 pointed out that, even at that early stage, not long after the bridge opened, there was an obvious problem with the possibility for accidents as tourists, looking at maps or at the view or busy chatting came into contact with fast moving bike traffic. Planners are responsible for road markings and barriers and some changes have been made, particularly at the bottom of the bridge on the city side, but tourists also have a responsibility and have to learn to be more aware.

This is particularly true of the green man system at traffic lights that in too many cities seem to be treated as respect-it-or-ingnore-it advice rather than as an instruction but, because biking is taken seriously here, many cyclists are heading to or from work, can be in a hurry, and many cycle long distances so when you get up momentum (speed) you do not appreciate a tourist sauntering into the bike lane to take a better photo or stepping out onto a crossing because it sounds clear …. ie they can’t hear a car so step out without looking.

The real problem in Nyhavn is people taking photographs and particularly selfies. Most tourists would say well that is pretty harmless and surely it doesn’t hurt locals to wait just a few seconds while they get that perfect shot. 

But I’m much less tolerant of selfies now I have actually moved to an apartment on Nyhavn.

I have deliberately changed my behaviour to walk down the shady side when possible, although I live on the sunny side, simply because there are slightly less people taking photos. It may be your once in a life time shot but for me, heading to the metro, it may well be the ninth or tenth time I’ve had to walk out into the road in just over 100 metres to get around a selfish-selfie taker. 

Do people taking selfies realise just how much space they take up on a narrow or crowded path with or without a selfie stick? 


A few weeks back I was heading up towards Kongens Nytorv on the Charlottenborg side and walking along the pavement against the water. I noticed a woman standing a short distance ahead with her back against the buildings and only noticed her because of the odd pose - even for someone taking a photo with a phone. The phone was held in both hands at arms length with her arms straight out in front so I guess she was long sighted. As I got nearer and, presumably, as she focused on the phone screen or composed the view, she set off straight across the bike lane - cutting between bikes heading out of the city without looking - and walked straight across the road between the moving cars and straight across the bike lane on the water side with bikes heading fast into the city but without taking her eyes off the screen and ended up, with arms still straight out, rigid, taking up the full width of the pavement immediately in front of me. And I mean immediately in front. Inches away rather than feet away. I was walking quite quickly but she moved at a surprising speed so if I had been wearing rubber-sole shoes there would have been black burn marks on the pavement because I had to stop that quickly to stop from walking straight into her. She gave me a withering look - presumably for standing too close and for distracting her - before turning her head back to the outstretched phone and to the perfect photo she wanted to take. I had to step out into the bike lane - after checking - to get round her. 

When I’m trying to get somewhere it’s bloody annoying although looking out of my apartment it’s more entertaining and a mind-boggling view of weird human behaviour. In the last couple of weeks alone I watched someone who looked like a Japanese tourist who set up his camera on the top of his case with wheels and then made endless trips between the edge of the harbour and his case to take shot after shot after shot until he got just the right angle of his face against the buildings opposite and there was a curious girl who did the splits along the raised timber that marks the edge of the quay for her photo although now, I appreciate, that the timber is, remarkably, like the bar in women’s gymnastics although balancing three metres above the water seemed a little precarious even if, admittedly, it made for an unusual photo. There was also a young couple I took to be Chinese with him in a smart suit and her in an elaborate wedding dress …. Cinderella before midnight meets Marie Antoinette … although they were not strictly taking selfies as they had a photographer with them and she insisted in setting up her camera on a tripod in the middle of the road - again to get what they thought was the perfect photo. 

Another trend I’ve spotted is the fake selfie … the girl (usually a girl and usually mid teens) with a striking outfit and a mate or sometimes someone who is obviously the doting mum there to take the perfect shot. The common pose seems to start by dropping the head forward and then doing a great swinging arc to take all the hair in a great circular sweep so it ends up artfully draped down one side of the face but clear of the eyes and the favourite stance seems to be with body angled to face one side or the other, so across the view line from the camera, but looking slightly over the shoulder towards the camera. Again I’m amazed just how many takes and how much discussion it takes to get that perfect spontaneous shot.


Oh and while I’m being grumpy …. the other thing I really really don’t understand is this fad for fixing padlocks to bridges. The first person to do it was being original and presumably romantic if that first lock on that first bridge marked somewhere special where something significant happened … like proposing or promising eternal love and devotion. Now it’s locks on locks on locks.

I’m curious …. do people arrive with pockets full of locks or do they buy them here and exactly how much does it cost the city or the port authority to cut them off at increasingly regular intervals? And what do people do with all those keys?


climate change for a sustainable future architecture design and conservation


A major exhibition that looks at aspects of sustainable architecture and design has just opened at KADK /The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation in Copenhagen.

Following an open competition, 29 research projects were chosen for the exhibition.

Some of the research has looked at the use of materials - so at how established materials can be used in more sustainable ways or new materials that reduce their impact on the environment by using less water or that form less pollutants in production or methods of manufacture where materials can be reused.

The projects are diverse from campaigns to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups; a reassessment of historic or traditional construction methods of timber framing for new buildings; a reassessment of logistics to utilise the metro at night for a new distribution system for goods or the use of sustainable packaging.

the climate change exhibition at KADK
Danneskiold-Samsøe Allé 51,
1435 Copenhagen K
continues until 15 November 2019