Boliger til Folket - Housing for People


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

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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unfolds at Designmuseum Danmark


An incredible exhibition has just opened at Designmuseum Danmark in Copenhagen. 

Unfolds celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Danish Cabinetmakers’ Association with twenty five works that the museum describes as unique. The theme for the exhibition is the cube but unique barely begins to describe the ingenuity, the skill and the craftsmanship on display here that is astounding because the pieces also involve the visitor as works have to be twisted or spun or, as the title of the exhibition implies, unfolded to reveal what is inside.

There is a cabinet of curiosities suspended from the ceiling and when you duck inside it is lined with small mirrored boxes that have to to be spun round so that as your image is fragmented more and more so the objects can be revealed. A large cube with a chess board inlaid on the top can be tumbled over to reveal backgammon on the other side but the draw holding the playing pieces only opens to give the right pieces for the right board depending on which way up you have set it. There is a stark, dark, monumental box, that is a variation on the principle of Russian dolls but here the contents are a whole series of modern stylised rocking horses each smaller than the one before.

There is what appears to be a solid cube, small, beautifully made, with inset lines that divide each side into nine but as you unlock a draw on one side and open it and then push it back in, because it is empty, the tight fit means that another draw slides open on the other side as air is pushed through the interior of the box and then when that is pushed in another box emerges from the top. And so on and so on. Another piece has two solid cubes each with a funnel on the top for a silver ball that is dropped in to follow a hidden maze inside that you negotiate by twisting and turning the cube but you have to listen to check as it drops from one level to another and there is a clock and a clipboard to record the time it took you to complete the puzzle when the ball drops into a trough at the bottom.

Some of the pieces explore the tactile qualities of bark or one piece has tightly but irregularly packed cubes of dark smoked wood that you are asked to feel before pushing a silver button to open a draw inside suspended below quivering enamelled flowers.

There is a giro-like arrangement of a complex openwork cube within a cube filled with a narrow wooden trackway, made in different colours of wood, along which a silver ball runs as you turn the whole thing to set it going on a miniature but never-ending roller coaster and you try to follow the ball as it runs around or spins in a funnel before dropping onto the next section of track or it has to be followed by the odd clicking noises it makes out of sight in some sections.

As this is the silver anniversary each piece has some part in silver so there is a box that includes a spoon in plum wood but silver plated.

The piece that absorbed me for most time has a series of small, beautifully-made boxes, set within a large box and as you take off each lid in turn there is a piece of aromatic wood inside and there is a miniature plane so, if the smell isn’t strong enough, you can revive it by shaving off small slivers and each wood is identified with a number to check against a key list. Normally I would try and identify Oregon pine from its distinct colour and the grain but here I realised it has a quintessentially pine smell - it is very very pine - but that is odd because, despite the commonly used name, it’s not actually a pine but a fir …. and it was the first time I have held and could smell a piece of juniper wood so I now want something in juniper. Someone should write a book about the different smells of different craft workshops and their materials. 

Craftsmen get obsessed and completely absorbed in their work but this is the first exhibition I can remember where you can see all the visitors to a museum become completely absorbed and lost in the works of craftsmen.

the exhibition continues at Designmuseum Danmark until 5 May 2017

a new bridge over the harbour


Work has just started on a new bridge over the harbour for cyclists and pedestrians that will curve across the water parallel to and north of Langebro to provide a new route from Christianshavn or Islands Brygge to the city centre but avoiding the heavy road traffic of H C Andersens Boulevard by encouraging people to use the quieter road - Vester Voldgade - that runs parallel up to the city hall.

update to the post about The Chair


With the collection of chairs at Designmuseum Danmark in their new and beautifully lit gallery there was an opportunity recently to take some new photographs of The Round Chair that was designed by Hans Wegner in 1949.

This also seems quite topical somehow for it was the chair used for the first televised presidential debate between John F Kennedy and Richard Nixon in September 1960. The debate is now available on the site of the John F Kennedy Library. So many things have changed but the problems seem depressingly familiar.

The post on this site about the chair from December 2015 has been re edited and the new images added.


design classic: The Chair by Hans Wegner

the danish chair - designmuseum Danmark

the house of Arne Jacobsen and a rare opening to the public


In 2005 Realdania purchased the house in Gotfred Rodes Vej that Arne Jacobsen designed and had built for himself and his young family in 1929. The house has been restored and many features returned to the original arrangement. The house is normally occupied by tenants so access for the public is rare but the villa was opened for two days on the 11th and 12th of February.

Gotfred Rodes Vej 2

Copenhagen snow


No ... this web site has not resorted to doing weather reports ... but buildings and the texture of hard landscaping in the city does look very different in the late afternoon and early evening with a soft light reflected up from the snow and that changes how you see and appreciate the buildings particularly if people hurry home leaving the streets and squares empty and quiet.

journey to the pier’s end


There is a light and sound installation on the recently completed public space of Ofelia Plads immediately north of the theatre and across the harbour from the opera house in Copenhagen. It is by the collective Obscura Vertigo with a soundtrack by the sound designer Peter Albrechtsen. Pulses of light respond to the movement of people as they walk along the pier through the line of forty triangles.

Continues until 5 March.

Welcome to Wasteland

“Welcome to Wasteland …. a world where waste is transformed into wealth.”

Denmark produces 11.74 million tons of waste each year but this should be seen as a great untapped resource that can play a crucial part in the development of new buildings.

The exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre aims to provide a new understanding of waste as a valuable resource in the development of our common future.


Welcome to Wasteland

Danish Architecture Centre, Strandgade, Copenhagen

26 January - 17 April 2017

Stilleben at 22


the new Stilleben store Frederiksborggade 22 Copenhagen


Stilleben have opened a new design store on the corner of Linnésgade and Frederiksborggade - close to the food halls at Torvhallerne in Copenhagen. The large space, previously the show rooms of Fredericia, has a wide selection of ceramics and prints plus, with more space here, books, furniture and storage. The original store in Niels Hemmingsens Gade will specialise in their range of jewellery and smaller items for the home.

It was a little difficult to judge the arrangement of the store with all the crowds of the big opening so a return visit, once things settle down, might be a good idea.




Japomania in the north 1875-1918


A new exhibition on the influence of Japanese painting and ceramics in Scandinavia in the late 19th century and early 20th century has opened at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen.

This is a pair to the exhibition Learning from Japan - currently at Designmuseum Danmark in the city - and together they explore how the opening up of trade with Japan in the second half of the 19th century inspired artists and designers and architects in Scandinavia. 

Some of these Scandinavian pieces show direct and close observation of works that were published or had been shown in the city … there were several prominent collectors of Japanese ceramics and wood cuts and both woodcuts and ceramics were shown in displays when the design museum, then called the Kunstindustriemuseet, opened… but there had also been important displays of Japanese art at the Nordic Exhibition in Copenhagen in 1888, as well as at the World Fairs in Paris in 1878 and again in 1889.

Several pieces here show a looser interpretation of Japanese style with what for some was more a passing fashion with people portrayed incongruously in Japanese costumes or shown carrying painted umbrellas. Some of the paintings have incredible frames and it would be interesting to see historic photographs that show how these were displayed in Scandinavian homes.


Japomania in the North 1875 - 1918, Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

19 January - 23 April 2017

The Misses Salomon by Anders Zorn (1888)

vase by Thorvald Bindesbøll inspired by the famous Japanese print of a wave

temporary redisplay of a selection from the modern collection from Statens Museum

untitled man with dots sitting on a blue carpet by Peter Land (2003)



At Statens Museum for Kunst there is a temporary redisplay of some of the pieces from the collection of modern Danish art as the main galleries where the works are normally shown are closed for a few months for the fitting of new air conditioning in the galleries for Danish and International Art after 1900.


Focus on Danish and International Art after 1900,

Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen

from 16th January until May 2017

a new public square for Copenhagen?

the north front of the main railway station in Copenhagen from Vesterbrogade


There are proposals to create a large new public square in Copenhagen on the north side of the central railway station. 

The present station was designed by the architect Heinrich Wenck. Work on the building started in 1904 and was completed in 1911. It was constructed across a shallow valley or low ground so trains now leaving the station to head north are well below street level. This left an odd and large void in the street scape although, in the days of steam trains, this must have been important to keep the station platforms as free as possible of smoke and dirt.

The new scheme is to build across this large area of the tracks to create a square with the existing main street of Vesterbrogade across the north side, the main front of the railway station forming the south side and the Astoria Hotel from the 1930s on the west side of the square … an open paved area about 50 metres wide and almost 150 metres from the road to the station. An important part of the new work will be extensive and more rational storage areas for bikes. When the new line of the metro opens in 2018 even more cyclists, using this part of the system as an interchange as they travel in and out of the city, will need somewhere to leave a bike.


Nytt Rom 55


The latest edition of Nytt Rom is out now with the usual good mixture of short notices about new products, current exhibitions, short book reviews and so on and slightly longer pieces about designers or architecture. This month there is a piece on the Urban Rigger, a floating construction from Bjarke Ingels, and several longer pieces with eight-page spreads on specific houses, including two in Copenhagen and two in Oslo … one with a stunning location on a steep wooded slope on the island of Ulvøya just south of the city. 

This is not just about looking at what seems like day dreaming about unattainable design because there is a useful roundup from visits to a couple design stores - i butikkene - that just focuses on a few items “i hyller og skap” - on shelves or in cabinets - so what the magazine editor admits is a completely subjective choice including pieces from Hay and Frama seen in an Oslo store and a Tivoli Chair by the Finnish designer Mikko Laakkonen in Danske in Istedgade in Copenhagen. And that’s fine … it strikes me as being as close as any design magazine gets to the way most people shop … seeing something that just stands out and you really like and then wondering, again in the words of the magazine, if it is a timeless investment or maybe just something you can tell yourself you need.


Our Urban Living Room


The next few days are your last chance to see Our Urban Living Room, Learning from Copenhagen ... the exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre about the work of COBE the Copenhagen architecture studio. It closes on the 12th January.



Our Urban Living Room,

Danish Architecture Centre, Strandgade, Copenhagen

update on City Hall square

plan of proposals for the City Hall Square from Magasinet KBH

After posting recently about proposals to move the 17th-century Caritas or Dragon's Fountain from it's present site in Gammel Torv in Copenhagen to a new site in centre of the large square in front of the City Hall, I came across a good article on line on the Magasinet KBH site  - Fremtiden på Rådhuspladsen er fuld af træer - Future City Hall Square is full of trees - which has much more information and a plan for the proposed work.

It's interesting to see the wider scheme shown on the drawings because it is not just a plan to move a fountain. When hoardings around the construction site for the new metro station are dismantled, there is a proposal for an extensive planting of trees across the north part of the square. In part the dense planting and some additional trees on the east side will give the large space in front of the city hall a stronger sense of enclosure and will use planting to define a more regular and more rectangular space.

In part this must follow on from the successful redesign of the area to the east of the City Hall - the Vartov Square - with a formal planting of cherry trees that are now well established.

Magasinet KBH is a really good site for information about new buildings and planning proposals in the city with a particular focus on urban space and you can also subscribe to their weekly news letters.

there was an interesting article in the Guardian on line today

'A city with edge': why Copenhagen gives its blessing to illegal skateparks, James Clasper, Guardian 19 December 2016

Not wishing in any way to disparage the city that is now my home but I have never thought of Copenhagen as “a city with edge” … it’s sense of fashion and design has generally seemed too carefully considered to be really cutting edge … to be honest that’s why I like it … but I certainly agree with the bit about tolerant.

Trying to accommodate or at least allow temporary space for skateparks is certainly part of a clear policy for planning in the city where the active use of outdoor space is encouraged and promoted and facilities are spread widely through the different neighbourhoods.

It’s the only city I have lived in where there are skate jams … as opposed to traffic jams that is. On a number of advertised dates through the summer barriers and cones close of streets to all traffic and thousands put on their skates for the evening … and I mean thousands. And being Copenhagen where so many people take exercise seriously then it’s not just a few streets … I seem to remember that for the evening at the end of September the main circuit was about 8 kilometres. 


a main road into the city but free of cars was fine ....

... and then they hit the road works