Hoardings are down and there is now public access to the new square and to the new building at Axeltorv. This major new development, opposite the main entrance to Tivoli, was designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter and is described as ‘five fused circular towers of different heights.’
Round towers are relatively unusual in the city - Rundetaarn or round tower at the west end of Trinitatis Kirke being one prominent example - but the round form of the towers in the new building may have been inspired by its site on one of the bastions of the old defences and the lower part of a medieval, circular, brick tower from the old wall survives nearby at Jarmers Plads.
The new Axeltorv is a stunning building and the facade, with its cladding panels and distinctive fins in the brass alloy tombac, is a visual link with Vesterport - the important office building further west by Povl Baumann and Ole Falkentorp that dates from 1930-1932 - although the tombac will presumably not take on the same green patina as the copper.
Clearly the building has created an important public square between Tivoli and Jerbanegade and public access has been taken high up into the building by a dramatic main staircase and narrower secondary staircases that rise between the towers to an upper court that has mature trees and good, high-quality hard landscaping with cobbles and seats that pick up the circular theme. And this upper space is very dramatic with curved upper links between the towers supported on simple but very tall and elegant columns.
But … and there is a big but … although the building and the square attract and pull the visitor through, it seems curiously not site specific. It is a virtuoso design but it fits unhappily with the street to its north and the buildings to its east where the older buildings have just been sliced off and there is a grim alleyway between the old and the new with views into back courtyards that were and are not meant to be seen. Yes, it is boring and safe to respect and retain street frontages and building heights but to break through them so dramatically here, on this site, undermines rather than pulls together what is already a confusing, crowded and visually distracting and fragmented townscape between the city hall and the main railway station.