It has just been announced that the building of the National Bank of Denmark in the centre of Copenhagen - designed by Arne Jacobsen and completed in 1978 - has to undergo an extensive programme of repairs. As this will take several years, the bank and it's staff are to move out of the building until the works are completed.
January 2019 - the site for the UN17 Village by Lendager Group - the view is looking north along what is called Promenade - the west boundary of Ørestad - Kalvebod Fælled is to the left
Recently, it was announced that housing on the last large plot in Ørestad Syd where building work has not started will be designed by the Lendager Group and Årstiderne Arkitekter and the engineers Arup.
At the south-west corner of Ørestad, it is perhaps the most prominent site, in this major development area in Copenhagen with the open ground of Kalvebod Fælled immediately to the west and to the south an artificial lake and then extensive views out over pastures and meadow.
Given the character of the site, it seems appropriate that this project should go to an architectural practice that is establishing its reputation around its innovative approach to sustainability. In fact, the large development of apartment buildings here is being described as a village and promoted as the first development project in the world that will address all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Concrete wood and glass used in the new construction will be recycled materials but also the housing will be designed to provide an opportunity for the residents to have a sustainable lifestyle.
There will be 400 new homes here in five housing blocks with courtyards and rooftop gardens. Rainwater will be collected with up to 1.5 million litres of water recycled every year.
It is planned to be a mixed development - a very mixed development - with 37 different arrangements of accommodation - called typologies - with family dwellings; co living and homes for the elderly along with communal space; a conference centre to host sustainability events; an organic restaurant and greenhouses with plans for schemes for food sharing.
When completed, there will be homes here for 800 people and 100 jobs.
Initial drawings show that the design will break away from the grim style of many of the recent and nearby apartment developments in Ørestad, replacing flat facades of dark brick with what appears to be a regular and exposed framework of pale concrete piers and beams with balconies and glass set back within that grid and although high at the north end, the blocks will step down in a series of terraces so they will be lower in height towards the lake and the open common.
drawings from Lendager Group
Kalvebod Fælled August 2018 from the west edge of Ørestad
This view of Amager shows the area of Ørestad marked with a dotted white line and the plot for housing designed by Lendager at the south-west corner marked in orange and was produced simply to show the site and the context.
From the air - and, of course, on the ground - you can see how the proposed housing will be at a key point between the densely built up housing blocks of Ørestad and the open common of Kalvebod Fælled.
It also shows the extent of Ørestad for readers who have not been to Copenhagen or do not know this part of the city although, actually, the 8 building by Bjarke Ingels just to the east and also looking across the common is now a tourist attraction.
Copenhagen airport is obvious but what might not be so obvious is the odd small tongue in the sea in the centre of the east or right side. That is the end (or start) of the rail and motorway bridge linking Copenhagen and Malmö ... the road and rail links drop down into a tunnel between the shore and the bridge. The road and rail links run east west and straight through the centre of Ørestad which is why Ørestad City with a rail and metro interchange was planned as a major business centre.
At the centre, at the top of Amager, are the distinct lakes and 17th-century defences around Christianshavn and above that part of the historic centre of Copenhagen.
It is the first time I have produced a map of this part of the city for this blog and I realised that I have a slightly misplaced or distorted view of Ørestad. Over the last five years or so I have done the trip out to this part of the city at fairly regular intervals - partly because I like having a coffee in the lakeside restaurant in the 8 Building with a view out over the common - but mainly because I want to watch and to photograph the area as it develops. A standard trip is to get the metro out to the end of the line, have a coffee and then walk back to where I live in Christianshavn exploring and taking photos.
The metro emerges from its tunnel alongside the university area at the north end of Ørestad and then curves round past the distinctive blue cube of the Danish Radio concert hall before running the full length of Ørestad on an elevated concrete track.
The image I have is of a very large or rather a very long and densely built up development but flanked by the much older areas of small plots and gardens and individual houses to the east and open common land to the west and south. That much is true but somehow I had set in my mind that Ørestad was almost a sixth digit on the famous Copenhagen Finger Plan … even if that seems like a slightly perverse understanding of anatomy. But it's not a finger. The Fingers are much much larger, much longer and much more suburban in character, so a string of housing and centres for shopping and commerce and based along the lines of the suburban railway. I'm not sure how Ørestad fits in my mind map of the city now … maybe a name tag hung from the wrist.
June 2018 - rapid progress
A major housing project in Ørestad by Lendager is moving fast towards completion.
This is housing around an enclosed courtyard on a plot about 250 metres south of the new Royal Arena
It is a wide site from east to west but relatively short north to south and there will be three-storey row houses along both long sides and taller blocks across the shorter east and west ends of the courtyard.
Drawings for the scheme show extensive planting in the courtyard with well-established trees and with climbers or plants on the walls of the courtyard and extensive gardens and green houses across the roof.
drawing by Lendager Group
But it seems, from walking around the site, that there could be a very real problems with shadow across the building and across the courtyard. This is not just a problem with this development but a significant problem across the district.
A masterplan for this part of Ørestad was produced by the Finnish company ARKKI in 1995 and although the specific form of key buildings - like the new Royal Arena and the recently completed school - have changed from the layout shown then, the arrangement of roads and building plots has survived. However, the housing and apartments as built, over the last year or so, appear to be much higher than originally planned with more floor levels - to increase housing density - so the buildings have a much longer and unbroken area of shadow and that is obviously much more of a problem at this time of year when the sun, although often bright and in a clear sky, is low in the sky.
Here, there are tall buildings immediately to the south with just a narrow road between the two developments but the higher blocks at the east and west ends of the Lendager building itself will also throw shadows across the courtyard from the early morning and the evening sun.
To be more positive, the really striking feature of the building will be the facing panels of recycled brickwork. These are not old bricks that have been salvaged and cleaned and re-laid but they have been cut in panels from buildings as they were demolished … in this case buildings on the Carlsberg site in Copenhagen.
Old lime mortars tends to crumble away as a building is demolished and individual bricks can be cleaned and reused but modern mortar is so tough that bricks are damaged or shatter if you try to salvage them individually.
This method of creating facing panels for new buildings has been shown by Lendager at exhibitions at the Danish Architecture Centre.
January 2019 - a much clearer idea of the final appearance with windows fitted and the strong black skyline but note the deep shadow across the south-facing row houses on a bright winter day early afternoon - general view taken from the south-west
Out of Office was established by the landscape architects Adam Roigart and Martin Hedevang Andersen who both trained in Copenhagen.
They work on urban landscapes on public streets and in courtyards in the city and use prototyping to test ideas and to understand and to explore user needs and the users are involved in the construction work to establish a strong sense of ownership.
Materials are recycled and for the urban garden in the staircase gallery at DAC (The Danish Architecture Centre) they are growing zucchini in bricklayers' buckets on recycled pallets. The plants will be cared for by local school children.
The Out of Office on-line site has photographs of their projects including courtyard gardens for apartment building on Jagtvej and Sjælør Boulevard in Copenhagen, a Winter Pavilion, and a street garden in Krusågade in Vesterbro.
The garden at DAC has been set up with the Klima 100 exhibition in the gallery at the next level down.
Dansk Arkitektur Center,
This exhibition at the entrance-hall level of the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen is on the work of eight research students and graduates from Aarhus School of Architecture.
These projects cover a wide range of subjects from understanding natural and historic man-made drainage as it has to adapt or be adapted for increased rainfall - a consequences of climate change - through new possibilities in the way we use traditional materials like concrete and, for wood, how new techniques of digital fabrication can be used to develop new forms of construction.
As people move into cities some buildings in rural settlements in Denmark have been abandoned and one of the projects looks at how we assess buildings that are no longer needed and might be demolished and looks at how we understand and remember buildings that are part of a common cultural heritage.
The project by Elizabeth Donovan explores how a strong visual or graphic presentation that shows the complex history of sustainability over a century reveals new connections and suggests hierarchies or priorities when “bridging the gap between discourse and practice.”
“Each project further illustrates a rising need for interdisciplinary dialogue to both develop and build knowledge and hereby influence the world.
Aarhus School of Architecture labels this research by design. This methodology, developed at the school, tests ideas and theories through real-life case studies … a proposed solution to a relevant problem, rather than a theoretical consideration.”
Timber curtain by Niels Martin Larsen and Maya Lahmy
explores how we shape materials - here by using digital control of a router to cut precise joins to construct a complex lattice of curved and twisting sections of timber.
Mass and Manipulation by Jon Krähling Engholt
Concrete is normally flat and relatively smooth but here a rubber membrane that has a pattern of cuts made with a laser is used for the former and is supported in different ways as the concrete sets. The weight of the concrete means that the rubber stretches and as the cuts stretch they distort or twist to reveal a different characteristic of concrete that as it sets changes from a viscous fluid to a solid.
Don’t Blame the water! Katrina Wiberg
In many settlements, particularly if they are low lying or close to the coast, modern expansion is often over marginal land - building on meadows and marshland that had taken or slowed down surface water when rain was heavy.
Maps can show features of the landscape that have been overlaid by man-made drainage systems over decades or even over centuries.
The study area for this project was the settlement of Lystrup. Historical maps, contemporary maps and flood maps were compared to correlate historical wetlands with flood-prone residential areas to resolve the actual relationship.
Decisions about climate resilience have to include "the planning processes and decision-making mechanisms that shape urban development."
We claim or reclaim land for new developments to extend urban areas and settle in places that in the past were considered to be either unsuitable or difficult for habitation and studies like this will make it possible to distinguish between the Dry and Wet City because "When the cloudburst occurs, the water takes over, and the ice age landscape emerges. The Wet City awakens."
Bespoke Fragments Anders Kruse Aagaard
… explores concrete wood and steel but uses them in a way that challenges our perception of these traditional materials that normally we barely notice.
Concrete is twisted over curved and almost free form steel reinforcing rods to create shapes that are closer to sculpture than structure and in Intermediate fragments from 2014 ash is cut and curved and twisted using digital machining and then slotted into a complicated concrete base for a striking interplay of materials and forms.
Urban Carpet by Polina Chebotareva
10,000 pieces of Douglas fir were linked together with steel wire, the wood charred to form an unfamiliar surface that protects the surface from moisture using a technique related to the Japanese Shou Sugi Ban.
When it rains the wood gives off a slight scent of smoke that enhances the experience and with use the colour changes to brown so you can trace where people have walked.
For the festival in Aarhus in 2018 the Urban Carpet was installed on a traffic Island in the middle of the main road in front of the central railway station - an area of 100 square metres. 50,000 people cross over here every day but normally people do not notice the island so it is described as an overlooked urban space. The carpet challenges preconceptions and invites people to experience a familiar route in a new way.
Transformation of the abandoned Mo Michelsen Stochholm Krag
This project looks at the impact as people migrate from the country to the town and buildings are abandoned. It recorded but also intervened in the decay cutting through some buildings that are destined for demolition to reveal new views and a new focus on both the structure and on perceptions about how it was used and its role in the community as it is lost from a common history.
Biopsies of the abandoned 2015 looked at a farmhouse in Ydby dated 1780 and tracked the decay of a pig shed.
The reverse biopsy 2016 looked at an abandoned confectionary in Hurup two months before it was demolished. The building was cut through and for the first time that opened a view and link between the shop in the front and the bakery at the back and revealed a stratification and private history to stimulates a reassessment of the place these buildings had in the lives of people … those who lived in them and those who visited them or possibly knew them only from the outside.
For the Golden Days Festival this year the theme was The B-sides of History so, for this exhibition, the curators at Statens Museum for Kunst took that literally and present the backs of paintings and drawings in their collection.
And it is fascinating.
the exhibition continues at Statens Museum for Kunst until 10 March 2019
A major exhibition, Practice Futures, has opened at KADK - the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation.
The full title of the exhibition is Technology in Architecture, Practice Future, Building Design for a New Material Age, and this is an import examination of that area, if you see it in terms of a Venn Diagram, where the disciplines or professional expertise of architecture, engineering, techniques of construction and the development and the technology of materials meet and overlap.
Fifteen research projects are presented here from international PhD students working in six major European research departments and working with fourteen established partners including major architectural practices, engineering companies and construction companies.
These ongoing studies are reassessing well-established materials such as timber and concrete and rediscovering or reassessing or developing techniques to shape, bend, finish and join materials to achieve new forms of construction such as large scale, computer-controlled extrusion or printing and the development of new materials for large-scale building projects.
This is about new tools and new approaches for reassessing traditional materials and established craft techniques but also about using computers to assess complex information; to solve unconventional design problems and to control systems for constructing new forms and new types of building.
Projects presented here are prototypes to demonstrate customised solutions to realise challenging new construction projects that not only have to take into account the need for high energy conservation but also have to tackle rapidly-developing problems or social pressures from population growth, and, as a direct consequence, find new solutions to the demands of cities that are growing at an unprecedented speed. This is construction design trying to deal with political and economic constraints and with the added and pressing demands of global climate change.
KADK Udstillingen og Festsalen
Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51-53
1435 København K
the exhibition continues until 7 December 2018
Work continues at Designmuseum Danmark where the entrance gates, railings and stone piers along the street are being rebuilt and the setts of the forecourt relaid to form a new ramp to replace the steps up to the front entrance door and to install lighting and so on for new outdoor exhibition cases.
The project - designed by the architectural practice COBE - includes a new ticket area, book shop and new cafe in the lower part of the old pharmacy … that’s the pavilion to the right of the forecourt.
As new blocks of stone have been brought to the site and set up, the work is an opportunity to see some of the details of 18th-century stone masons’ techniques that have been replicated … so it is possible to see the way bold mouldings are cut across large blocks to form plinths and caps to the piers.
The large ashlar blocks of the stone piers and the blocks that form the moulded bases and caps are dressed back with strong vertical tooling which contributes a distinct surface texture and gives a darker tone to the architectural details. Note how at each end of the ironwork screen the outer piers are not butted against the brickwork of the pavilions but are set into them which would suggest that the brickwork and stonework were built up at the same time … not one built against the other.
top left - the door into the former pharmacy of the hospital which will be the access to a new arrival space with ticket desk, book shop and new cafe. Note the silhouette in the brickwork of the ball finial and moulded cap of the stone pier that has been dismantled.
top centre - an iron pintel, set into the stonework of the pier, that will hold the strap of the lower hinge of the gate
Heavy spiked or barbed railings and the ornate iron gates are held in sockets cut into the blocks.
At this stage the gates are back on site but are on pallets so it is possible to see the robust quality of the iron work and to see how the straps of the gate hinges form a loop that will be dropped over hefty iron ‘pintels’ set into the stonework.
This major project has also been an opportunity to repair some of the stonework on the entrance front of the main building and it is interesting to see around the doorway that although the stone frame or architrave of the door looks hefty or robust, it is, in fact, made up with relatively thin slips of stone with pieces forming the moulded front and separate pieces forming the reveal or jamb running back to the door frame and the brickwork behind is surprisingly crude.
Work is progressing on a major project to restore the famous Nyboder houses in Copenhagen. These long terraced rows, with cobbled streets and narrow yards between the rows, cover a large block in the north-east part of the historic centre of the city within the old city defences … so south and west of Kastellet - the fortress or citadel - and close to Østerport railway station that is on the site of the old east gate.
The first of the rows were built in the 1630s and 1640s at the instigation of Christian IV for naval personnel and were single storey but with attic rooms. More rows - the two-storey terraces - were constructed in the middle of the 18th century and the last houses, in grey brick, date from the very end of the 19th century.
The houses from the 17th and 18th centuries were built in pale-yellow brick but given an external wash of lime with deep ochre pigment but this wash has just been removed so the brickwork can be repaired and, where necessary, repointed.
Stripped of this ochre wash, the facades reveal important archaeological evidence to show clearly how window and door openings were constructed. There were no obvious lintels but lines of headers above the windows so, almost certainly, the timber frame of the floor structure would have been set out to take the weight and outward thrust of the roof to prevent the outer walls bowing out or the ground-floor openings failing under the weight of the brickwork and roof above.
In contrast, more precise coursing in historic brickwork can be seen in a house on Wilders Plads in Christianshavn with alternate rows of different colours of brick so that brickwork was clearly built to be exposed and left without render. The Nyboder brickwork is not of the same quality so the houses must have been covered and protected with was of lime and pigment from the start.
It is also clear that by using lime wash - rather than a thicker and smooth coat of render - the final surface is not just more resilient - as each thin layer is applied, the lime oxidises and bonds to the stone or brick it covers - but the visible and slightly irregular brickwork gives a texture to the surface that seems to make the colour deeper … modern brickwork, in contrast, seems mechanical and flat or, if anything, dull.
select any image to open the photos as a slide show
How do you preserve somewhere like this? Or at least keep some of the buildings and some of the features that make the place so interesting.
How can you keep the colours and textures of somewhere that only looks like this because it was abandoned and for twenty years has - for the most part - been left or had a series of people working out here without the money or the security of tenure to do much beyond patching and repairing.
Of course there have been exceptions … a yacht yard has extensive workshops and the restaurant Amass is well established in a workshop building that was reconfigured by the architect Dorte Mandrup.
But even the land itself - the island - is hardly a long-term feature of the harbour with a long history. This land was all claimed from the sea in the late 19th century and until the mid 1990s this was the shipyard of Burmeister & Wain with a huge area of workshops and dry docks with buildings that had been added or adapted as necessary and as and when there was new work to be completed. The massive dry dock out the east - such a prominent feature of the works - was only constructed around 1960 so it only had a working life of around 30 years.
Maybe there is also something wrong about romanticising or fetishising the decay of industrial buildings when actually they are all that is left to mark the tough and dangerous working lives of thousands and thousands of men ..... it's sobering to read that the workshops where Amass have their restaurant and garden now was workshops where some of the men who were too old or had been injured at work could find less dangerous jobs in servicing and repairing machinery.
Small boat yards and engineering works colonised the space after the ship yard closed and that large hall has been used for events and for rock and pop concerts but Refshaleøen is now entering its next phase with the opening of new gallery space for Copenhagen Contemporary in workshops across the front of the music venue and in an area towards the harbour there is a new food market and there will be craft workshops and studios in some of the other buildings.
Even this next phase is short term - or relatively short term in the broader context of planning and future 'investment' in long-term development. This is valuable land just across the harbour from the city and much will depend on whether or not there is the motivation to build a new road tunnel to link Nordhavn and Refshaløen.
If that happens then the whole character of the island will change.
Even now this is hardly what you would describe as marginal land but with or even without the tunnel this will not survive like this for much longer. The gallery has been told that they can stay for 10 years and some of the industrial buildings might survive to be given new uses but what merit will rusty steps and broken windows have then? What is the value of patina? What is the best rate of return on rust?
Dinesen, the Danish floorboard company, did not have a major exhibition in their showrooms in Copenhagen this year for 3daysofdesgn but I called in there on the way to look at the new showrooms for by Lassen that are on the third floor of the same building Søtorvet.
They have an amazing display that runs down the centre of the showroom with the base of a Douglas fir with the bark still attached but sawn through into enormous planks. A visitor had counted the tree rings and the fir, from a forest in South Germany, is thought to have been 117 years old when it was felled.
In from the base, more bark has been removed and the sawn planks are more obvious and then from there, running on down the showroom, is a table made from planks from the tree that are 50 metres long. FIFTY METRES.
It's truly astounding and it shows, in perhaps the most tangible way possible, that the Danish love of wood for furniture is not just about style or taste but about a deep understanding of timber and an appreciation of it's importance and a deep knowledge that comes from experience and decades … no not decades but actually centuries of working with wood in this country.
Just a few days earlier I had taken family, who were visiting, to the Viking Museum in Roskilde. The ships there - dating from the 11th century and excavated from the fiord in the 1960s - are stunningly beautiful and amazing for their size; for their striking design and for their engineering and above all because they show that shipbuilders in Roskilde a thousand years ago were masters of the skills needed to work with the timber and understood how to realise designs that were strong and did service for decades.
Outside, in the area between the museum building and the water of the fiord, there was a demonstration of various shipbuilding skills, using traditional techniques, and one craftsman was dressing the surface of a split timber plank with an axe. A tree trunk had been split with wedges then than being sawn … aa ancient technique that meant thin planks could be formed that took into account the twists and natural faults in the wood. With a few swings with the axe, the surface of the plank was taken back from rough fibres and splinters to a surface that was smooth and almost unblemished.
If anyone wants to know just why Danish furniture in wood is so good then the answer is simple … all it takes is a 1,000 years of experience.
Vikingeskibs Museet, Roskild
This was an event to show the work of the Department of Design from Zurich University of the Arts with an exhibition in the Festhallen of the museum - the big assembly room over the entrance of the museum - and there was a packed series of talks and discussions through the Friday and Saturday.
It was very much about new and emerging talent - the next generation of designers - and covered well-established disciplines such as typography but had a strong focus on design for the computer - virtual models, virtual reality, computer games and apps using GPS to explore a city and its culture - along with political or social aspects of design - so work on how gender is expressed either consciously or unconsciously in the design of products.
Established Swiss design was represented here by the Ulm Stool by Max Bill from 1954; the Stella Chair and the messenger bag from Freitag that reuse truck tarpaulin. With the bags, Freitag had worked with students to explore new concepts and new forms for the bag and for the event, down in the courtyard, there was a stall where you could design your own bag by moving a Perspex template over a tarpaulin to form the design you liked best.
Action! Teaching and Learning for Sustainability has online sites for their symposiums in 2016, 2017 and 2018. These show how design as a training and as a profession has now spread out to involve a much much broader social, environmental and political area.
Forty or fifty years ago to call a store a design shop somehow implied that it was special and, by implication, ordinary furniture was somehow not designed and to have 'designer' anything - from jeans to a vase by a named designer - somehow implied, in terms of marketing at least, that this was special - to justify the price tag - but again, insidiously, as if it marked the buyer out for their taste and discernment. Equally typography was the work of a graphic artist or typographer rather than someone calling themselves generally a designer and people declared themselves to be interior designers before they realised that dropping the word interior gave them more freedom to work over a broader range of products.
Now the word design seems to be too broad. I'm not suggesting that it has been claimed by too many for too many products … just that it has become too vague. Everything, even badly thought out and badly made furniture or household accessories are actually designed … bad products are not organic or spontaneous and don't appear as if by magic in a container at a port. But the Swiss exhibition here shows that really good design, for all aspects of life, can be enhancing and invigorating and crucial to everyone's by making appropriate and sustainable design for the coming decades.
For 3daysofdesign, Designmuseum Denmark hosted the annual Design X Change in the courtyard. The over-riding theme of the event is sustainability and reuse for design products with many companies and designers represented. There were good food stalls … including a major stall by the team from Klint … the museum's own restaurant. Many of the displays were hands-on including being able to pan for gold and several stalls seemed well set to orchestrate discussions.
The best design is not necessarily about award winning architecture or beautifully made furniture but is always about sorting out the details.
Here it’s a drain in the cobbles of the quay in Christianshavn close to the new bridge by Olafur Eliasson.
How many people, admiring the bridge or sauntering along the harbour, look down at what they are walking over or standing on?
But one way to judge and appreciate well thought-through design and the use of good, well-made fittings is to think about what it might have been like if someone had not thought through those details.
A major exhibition at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation to show fourteen projects that offer new solutions and strategies for the development of new sustainable materials along with the development of new technologies, the exploration of new approaches to building and construction and the recycling or re-circulation of materials.
“The conversion means that we need to work innovatively and experimentally on the development of new materials and the recycling of old ones, while also using our knowledge to create solutions that people actually want to use. That is the way we work at KADK, so our research and the skills of our graduates can play a major role in terms of giving people a better life without putting pressure on our planet.”
Lene Dammand Lund.
Through the Autumn there will be a series of open seminars to “draw on knowledge and experience from some of the world’s leading architects and designers in the field of circularity, who will be invited to talk about their work.”
the exhibition Circular Economy continues at KADK at Philip de Langes Allé 10 in Copenhagen until 3 December 2017