Ofelia Plads

 

looking north across the new pier or plads from the theatre with the Admiral Hotel beyond a dock basin 

the wharf around 1900

 

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

To the north of the Skuespilhuset (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.

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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looking south from the pier to the theatre ... there are berths for ships on both sides. On the inner side, to the right,  a harbour basin ends in a broad flight of steps and a subsidiary square where buses terminate at the end of Sankt Annæ Plads and at the open, or sea end of the pier, the surface slopes gently down to water level creating direct contact with the water, a sort of beach, and a gentle transition of levels rather than the visual barrier, from the water, of a vertical quay edge.