a load of balls

 

There is an ongoing threat of terrorist attacks in cities around the World and in Copenhagen public spaces and pedestrian streets have been protected with different forms of barrier to keep out unauthorised vehicles. Across the entrance front of Christiansborg, the palace and the Danish parliament buildings in the centre of Copenhagen, a barrier of large, roughly-cut blocks of stone was a short-term solution to stop vehicles driving across the large public square.

Now, work on a permanent solution is almost finished.

At Slotsplads or Castle Square the large apron of cobbles in front of the castle with its equestrian statue of Frederik VII has been re-laid with new granite setts. There are now electric security barriers at entry points that drop down into the pavement to give official vehicles access and in a curve around the edge of the public space there is a sweep of very large stone balls - spheres in light grey granite 110 centimetres in diameter that are set close together.

It is not quite finished but recently temporary wire fences around the work site and plastic sheeting, that protected the stone spheres as work on laying the paving was completed, have all been removed.

Walking home the other evening just as it got dark was probably not the right time to take the best photograph but it does show one slightly odd thing: possibly because the fences have only just been removed or possibly because the spheres are actually set so close together but, for whatever reason, pedestrians do not seem to have reclaimed the space. Nobody was taking the short cut across the front of the building. Everybody was keeping to the edge of the square and keeping to the pavement outside the stone balls.

Steps across the front of the building in concrete have been rebuilt in the same pale granite and there are other changes that, although not dramatic, are important. Ornate, historic lamp standards will be moved back to the square but now to form a line straight across the façade and trees on the square that were felled for the work are not to be replanted where they were before but there will now be a line of 12 new trees on the far side of the road that runs across the front of the space between the square and the canal. With trees on the far side of the canal, this will create a new avenue flanking not a road but here a waterway and this will create a formal but natural edge to the public area. Parking bays for buses and coaches have been moved away so they intrude less.

Design work here is by GHB Landskabsarkitekter and there are interesting and important aspects to the new scheme. The work was extensive and features like felling the trees seems right now to be drastic but as soon as work equipment is moved away and people start reusing the space, it's likely that few will actually remember the earlier arrangement. Replacing the cobbles has changed the character of the space particularly as the previous pattern that radiated out from the entrance has been replaced with a regular and consistent arrangement of the granite setts making it perhaps starker but also more discrete and less in competition with the building to make the space grander and the high quality of the materials and the quality of the new work are also important as this respects and reinforces the significance of this major public and national space.

GHB Landskabsarkitekter

Economist ranking of the most liveable cities in the World

jazz by the canal

family life

 

The Economist Intelligence Unit has just published their annual list of the most liveable cities in the World.

Out of 140 cities considered, Vienna was at the top - replacing Melbourne ranked at number one for the last seven years. Copenhagen was ranked 9th which, initially, might seem to be not that high until you realise that Vienna and Copenhagen are the only cities in Europe to get into the top ten with Paris at 19 and London 48. New York was at 57 on the list.

The cities were judged by a wide range of criteria including healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure. 

The Economist Global Liveability Index 2018

Only 81st?

 

my thanks to KBH Københavns Møbelsnedkeri for this

 

Hey … come on Copenhagen … what’s gone wrong? Only at number 81 in the ranking of hipster cities of the World.

OK Brighton came in at number one and was followed by Portland but 81st …..

Helsinki came in at a respectable 9th and even Oslo made it to 31st. Barcelona only beat us by a place - in there at 80 - but Copenhagen was only a couple of places above Bournemouth and the last time I went to Bournemouth … well let’s say it’s not the retirement capital of the UK for nothing. At least Copenhagen beat Stockholm who came in as the 99th most hipster city in the World.

My suspicion is that the judges saw that eight out of ten people on the street are wearing a black anorak and didn’t look at the people behind the zip. The food on the square at the centre of the Meat Market could hardly be more hipster - though maybe a bit short on the vegan side if I think about it - and you can't get any more hipster than a cargo bike and those are two-a-kroner in Christianshavn. As for the the hipster criteria including tattoo parlours per thousand of the population - did the judges realise that that was about all there was in Nyhavn in the 1960s?  

Look … I may not wax my moustache but Isangs do a really great range of beard oils that I do use and 81st for a city that has Mikkeller beer. Come on! 

But then ......... just maybe the reason for being down the rankings is like the business of slipping a bit down the table of the most enjoyable cities to live in or happiest cities or whatever it is … maybe suppressing the inner hipster and trying not to smile as you bike round the city keeps the secret ours and keeps those hipster wannabes away.  

 

MoveHub Hipster Index

I just don’t understand

 

I went back to Side by Side Outside - the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition at the design museum - to take a few more photographs and I realised that several of the pieces had footprints on them and not the small footprints of children but large so adolescent or even adult prints … and not just on the low pieces but someone had clearly stepped on to on side of the bench and table by Frama and then up onto the table and down the other side.

Why?

Look at the work. These are beautifully and carefully made and OK this is a garden - which is actually no excuse - but it’s an enclosed courtyard garden within the museum. Each of those footprints had paid to come in … so these were people who, presumably, wanted to be in the design museum … so does paying for a ticket confer some sort of right to be thoughtless?

What was strange was that in some ways the opposite was also a problem. The design brief for the cabinetmakers had been to produce works that encouraged people to interact with the furniture and interact with each other through and around the works. But some visitors were curiously circumspect and several, when I tried to take a photograph of them, leapt up and looked guilty or asked me if I thought it was all right that they were sitting on something in the exhibition.

Watch the film that accompanies the exhibition and you begin to understand just how much thought and effort and how many hours went into the works shown here so, at the very least, walking over the works shows a phenomenal lack of respect. At times I just don't understand and at times I despair. 

Copenhagen minimal

If you read about Danish design, or talk to someone about Danish design, the key words seem to be light, or natural or well made or quality but then, somewhere, at some stage, you get the word simple or now, more often, the word minimal.

So thinking about minimalism in Danish design, I wanted to see if I could find the most minimal object or minimal design in the city. To count it had to be designed … obviously … so thought through and planned and deliberate … and not a one-off design but manufactured or reproduced.

This is my best offering to date. It’s the triangle in yellow painted on a kerb just along from a road junction to show that you cannot park any closer to the corner without obstructing the traffic coming in and out at the junction and, more important, you cannot park beyond the triangle without chancing a fine.

It’s small - each side just 10 cm - and I guess that reduces any ambiguity because the point of the triangle towards the road implies that there is a thin line that is projected out across the road - implied and not actually painted onto the road - so again about as minimal as you can get.

read more

update on Knippelsbro graffiti

 

In an earlier post with the heading - I just don’t understand - I wrote about the graffiti daubed on the copper tower of Knippelsbro - the main bridge at the centre of the harbour in Copenhagen.

This evening I saw it had been cleaned but that has left a scar because, inevitably, along with the paint, the patina on the surface of the copper has been removed.

As I said before, I understand that some people feel powerless or feel that no one is listening to why they feel excluded or ignored. But surely this sort of graffiti is simply thoughtless and selfish. It is imposing what is painted on everyone … whether or not they like it or want to see it. Am I wrong in seeing it as a sort of hectoring or bullying? 

The bridge is not a symbol of authority or symbol of oppression. In fact it is just the opposite. It was built in the late 1930s … a time of huge economic and political uncertainty … but was a clear symbol of confidence and pride in the city … built for the city … and built with a sense of hope for the future - that is why it is unashamedly modern - and it must have been seen as an investment in the future because it was primarily practical and well built … a wide new bridge crossing high above the water for trams and for bikes for workers and for ordinary people going in and out of the city but also a bridge that could be opened quickly and efficiently to let taller vessels pass from one part of the harbour to another.

the tower of Knippelsbro earlier in the week

 

I just don't understand

 

Generally, there is much much less vandalism in Copenhagen than in cities and towns in the UK so when there is something like this - recent graffiti on Knippelsbro - then it stands out. 

If kids - I presume it is kids - feel they are not listened to or they feel they are marginalised, or deprived or simply not understood … then I’m not sure that this is the best way to communicate. Maybe to sign it with your real name with a contact number or to stand next to it during the day and explain to people why you did this might help … or maybe not.

It’s particularly destructive here because when the graffiti is cleaned off then it also takes off the patina … the copper underneath is good but most people appreciate the soft green colour and that takes up to ten years to come back. 

112 has just appeared on the side of the tower towards the road ... odd because that's the Danish number for calling emergency services so the equivalent of 999.

Is someone actually saying "if you saw anyone doing this then phone the police" ?