Fang din by - forandring / Capture your city - change 2019

 

Fang din by - catch or capture your city - is an annual photographic competition at Dansk Arkitektur Centre - the Danish Architecture Centre or DAC - that demonstrates “that our cities are full of quirky details, historical corners, new urban spaces and fantastic architecture.”

This year the theme of the exhibition is transition in the city because our cities are changing every day and that change is fast. "We adapt to climate change, building height, the old is torn down creating new urban spaces." Information about the competition posed two questions ….

How does it look when old meets new? 
Is the transformation of our cities always good? 

Along with information about submission of images for the competition were also the recommendations that photographs should not only reflect the theme for this year but should also be an "exciting composition" and show the "interaction between urban space and people.

The competition was open to professional and amateur photographers and this year 3,000 people submitted images.

A final selection was made by a jury with Maja Dyrehauge Gregersen, Director of Copenhagen Photo Festival; the photo journalist Janus Engel Rasmussen, and Christian Juul Wendell, Head of Communications at the Institut for (X) and project manager at Bureau Detours.

The overall winner was announced at the opening with the second and third prize and there was a second and separate competition for schools and again the winner and second and third prizes were announced.

Fang din by was organised in collaboration with the Copenhagen Photo Festival and the opening coincided with the opening of the Festival.

the exhibition can be seen outside on Bryghuspladsen in Copenhagen
- the public square in front of BLOX -
from 7 June through to 30 August

for the first time this year there will also be a separate but closely-related exhibition - showing a different selection of images - that will be moved between a number of venues around the city.

That exhibition can be seen at:

  • Nytorv - 7 June to 20 June

  • Israels Plads - 21 June to 4 July

  • Rådhuspladsen - 5 July to 18 July

  • Kultorvet - 19 July to 1 August

  • Den Røde Plads - 2 August to 15 August

  • Højbro Plads - 16 August to 30 August

  

Dansk Arkitektur Centre - Fang din by
Copenhagen Photo Festival
Bureau Detours
Institut for (X)

Fang din by - Bryghuspladsen

 

Fang din by - Nytorv

a change of sign ….

Back last August, I wrote a post about the new 7-Eleven store that had opened on Gammel Torv on the ground floor of the Stelling building by Arne Jacobsen … or, rather, the post was about the signage that I described then as a travesty.

This week I was cutting up through the square and realised that all the signs have been changed and the original facing above the shop windows appears to have been restored so, credit where credit us due, this a huge improvement.

I would be curious to find out when the signs were changed and if there had been lobbying or pressure on the company from the public or from the planning department.

the post in August 2018

the Stelling building by Arne Jacobsen

 

a reminder of what went up in August ….

sum of the parts [ 1 ] … the corner store

 

So what should be the first post for sum of the parts - a new series of posts here?

Well … it seemed appropriate, for the first post, to find a type of building that nearly everyone uses; that everyone takes for granted and that is rarely mentioned in books on planning.

How about the corner store?

In the UK, the corner store in cities is often an expanded newsagent and, generally, has cheaper ranges of foods from a local wholesaler. Here, in Copenhagen, the corner store is often part of a major supermarket chain - rather than being independent - and has exactly the same items as their big supermarkets - although this means a slightly smaller range and often a smaller number of each item so they can fit in the widest range possible. Of course, in England, there are now small versions of Tesco or M&S but those are often on the high street or at a railway stations and more to do with opening earlier and closing later rather than providing a local service. Here, corner stores are in every area and often every couple of blocks.

Use google map to find the major companies here, including Irma or Super Brugsen (both part of the Coop company) or Fotex, and you can see just how many stores there are in the city and how close they get to the city centre.

A local store takes on something of the rhythm of the neighbourhood; is usually open early to late and without the corner store the use of bikes in Copenhagen would not be half as popular or half as ubiquitous. If someone has to use an out of town hypermarket, because that is all there is in their city, then it can only be used with a car. Here, the pattern is for people to shop often, shop when using their bike, and that can be on the way out to work or, more often of course, when heading back home from work.

sum of the parts …

 


Too often, when writing about architecture, the focus is on famous or obvious buildings - on the latest or the biggest or the best or on the buildings by well-known architects - and it's too easy to forget or to ignore why everyday parts of our townscape are important.

But, living in Copenhagen and walking around the city most days, I can see that it is the streetscape, the buildings together and the otherwise unremarkable but well-kept historic buildings that make the city such a pleasant and attractive and interesting place to live and to visit.

The architect and writer Jan Gehl has focused on how we respond to our urban environment and, over many years, he has looked at how people use the streets and public spaces of a city. Rather than seeing planning just in terms of the buildings themselves or, and worse, planning as simply the implementation of political dictate - the laws of urban administration - concerned simply with zoning or about how streets and squares are laid out in terms of traffic flow or parking bays - Jan Gehl writes about how people use their cities and what makes a city a good place to live.


It's rare for me to leave home here without a camera and I have been keen to look at and record not just buildings in the city but, because I'm a social historian, I look for evidence that shows how the city has evolved … evidence for not only when buildings were built, but why they were built in a specific way and how they were built and how they were used. And if we look at how and why and when buildings were altered or demolished or look at how and when the layout of the streets and squares changed, we can see evidence for how life has changed for people in the city …. and that change can be either rapid - so within a year or two - or buildings reflect change and adaptation over a time-span of decades or even centuries. 

 
 

Certainly, in Copenhagen, there are important and amazing buildings but, more than in many cities around the world, it is the quality of the parts that make the whole … it is the public space of the streets and squares and courtyards - the areas framed or defined by the buildings and in the streets now it’s the planting and the hard landscaping and the care that is taken with the details and it’s the setting or context for the buildings that together are so important. 

But there’s the paradox … we rarely comment on these elements of our built environment - the context and setting of the buildings - when they are right but we can see something, or often, we just feel something, is wrong when something is done badly.

This is one part of what Jan Gehl talked about in the book New City Life where, with Lars Gemzøe, Sia Kirknæs and Britt Sternhagen Søndergaard, he set out what they called “12 key quality criteria” for good city spaces. 

These were divided between qualities of protection - so feeling safe against the traffic or protected against crime and violence - qualities of comfort - from opportunities to walk through a city to opportunities for play and exercise and then last are their key qualities - ten, eleven and twelve - that are grouped under what seems like a curious heading enjoyment … or perhaps not so much curious but a quality that is either ignored or simply not appreciated when journalists and academic authors write about architecture.

These key qualities of enjoyment are important so they are worth quoting in full.

They are:
scale - Buildings and spaces designed to human scale
opportunities to enjoy the positive aspects of climate Sun/shade Heat/coolness Shelter from wind/breeze
positive sensory experience Good design and detailing Good materials Fine views Trees, plants, water

… so what, in another book, Gehl called ‘Life Between Buildings.’ 

To consider some of these aspects of architecture design and planning, this new occasional series of posts, under the heading sum of the parts, will look at streetscape in Copenhagen; at the details and the outcome or the reality of planning policies, and at aspects of how people here use public and semi-public parts of the city and why well-thought-out architecture of a high quality with good landscaping and good street furniture, together make Copenhagen not just a pleasant but a visually stimulating place to live.

Good planning and good building is not necessarily about doing something that is perfect or even something that fits in - so something conventional or safe - because too often that becomes a matter of simply ticking boxes on a design pro forma but it should be about doing something that is appropriate for a specific place or for a distinct part of the city and is something that is thought through and done in a way that is resilient - which means often that it is something that has been done for the long term - and something that settles in and wears well and works well and, more often than not, that means it should work without shouting at the user.

In English architectural studies "polite" architecture is usually taken to mean the architecture of the rich although, and curiously, few books seem to talk about "rude" architecture.

So generally, in urban architecture and planning, the aim should be for architecture that is quiet and does what it is meant to do without being intrusive … so polite in that sense. That is what makes doing what is appropriate important and surprisingly difficult and, too often, when the appropriate is achieved then it is not appreciated enough.

 

New City Life by Jan Gehl Lars Gemzøe, Sia Kirknæs and Britt Sternhagen Søndergaard, The Danish Architectural Press (2006)

Life Between Buildings, Using Public Space, Jan Gehl, Island Press (sixth edition 2011)



*I've been told by several Danes that they can't understand why the English like puns so much … so I hope that I can get away with the general title of this series as less of a pun and more of a homophone although, of course, I like the idea that, when there are enough posts in this ongoing series, they will have to be indexed as some of the parts of sum of the parts.

Kongens Nytorv

Although the opening of the new Metro has been delayed, that delay seems to be underground because work is moving forward fast on the townscape around the stations. Trees are now in and established around the new Metro station on the square in front of the city hall and this was Kongens Nytorv this morning. There was a station here for the existing metro line but this will now be a major interchange between the old line and the new city ring.

On the square, the hoardings are down and the trees and the paving are finished. It looks close to being opened completely with just temporary wire fencing around the gardens and the statue at the centre.

voted the grimmest

 

This week, the Danish newspaper Berlingske published the results of a poll where they asked readers to vote for the grimmest building in Copenhagen.

With over 50% of the votes, the new building at Østerport by KHR Architecture won … although in the circumstances perhaps winning is not the right word as, presumably, it is not an accolade the architects will cherish.

And it is not even finished.

Lars Kragh, from the architects, defended the design by suggesting that once "there are beautiful trees on the tarmac and there is life in the shops and workplaces are in use and the construction fence is gone, there is no doubt that the experience will be great."

An odd plea. So, the design will be fine once it is hidden behind trees and when people are using the shops and offices and are too busy to look at the architecture?

One critic summed up the problem well by pointing out that, “the building overwhelms the urban space with its size and tasteless façade."

If you are interested …

BLOX, just a year since it was completed, came in second
House of Industry, close to the city hall, was at three
Bohr Tower, out at the redevelopment of the old Carlsberg site, was at four
The Opera House received the fifth largest number of vote.

The Opera House, designed by Henning Larsen, is interesting because it is now fifteen years old but clearly that is not long enough to either endear itself or to become so familiar that people stop reacting to it.

earlier post on the Østerport building

KHR Architecture
Berlingske article

the grimmest or the most brutal?

the Radisson Blu Hotel on Amager Boulevard manages to loom over Christianshavn. Lurking at the end of the street, this could have a bit part in a spy film about an ominous state watching every move of its citizens

walking along the canal from the back or south side of the Opera House, it is there, at the end of the view from nearly 2 kilometres away

 
 

walking down towards Højbro Plads you get your first view of Christiansborg and there is the hotel, well over a kilometre away but filling the gap. Maybe not looming but there and once you see it there then you can’t unsee it

 

There are very obvious problems with the design of the new office building at Østerport - its unrelenting horizontality, odd raspberry ice cream colour and insensitivity to the good historic buildings nearby and the important green space of the Citadel opposite for a start - but, for me, by far the ugliest building in the city is still the Radisson Blu Hotel on Amager Boulevard by Ejner Graae and Bent Severin that was completed in 1973.

It is a stark and brutal tower that dominates it's location overlooking the trees and the water of Stadsgraven - the historic outer defences across the south side of the old city - but, worse, it is a thug of a building that can be seen from all over this part of Copenhagen. It is like a ridiculously tall and scruffy waiter at a wedding celebration and when guests look back at their photographs they find that somehow he manages to be there, looming in the background, of most of them.

About the only time it looks anywhere near presentable - the hotel not the waiter - is when there is mist and frost hanging over the water or at night when, looking down Frederiksholms Canal, the distant block and the lights of the rooms form a bit of a book end to the view.

…. not a ringing endorsement and what really is astounding is that for a time last year there was an application going through the system for planning permission to add another ten floors to the tower … permission that had been granted in the original consent for building the hotel but for some reason the tower was truncated as the hotel went up… as if even the builders ran out of energy or malice.

Fortunately, the recent application was withdrawn.

On the canal through Christianshavn, look down one side and perhaps the only criticism you could make is that it is too nice to the point of being bland - I wouldn’t agree but you could argue that a bit of spice improves a dish but look down the other side and there is the Radisson breaking the roof line even when you get lower on the quay and try to cut it out

 

On Frederiksholm Canal you are over a kilometre from the hotel. Look north and the tallest building - a marker on the skyline to get your sense of place and orientation - is Vor Fruhe Church in a view barely changed since the Thorvaldsens Museum opened further along the canal in the 19th century. Look south and there, dead centre, is the Radisson. Only at night does it seem to contribute something to the view but it is hardly good architecture if it is best seen in the dark.

 
 

Kunst i Byudvikling / Art in Urban Development

Kunst Realdania cover.jpeg

Realdania have just published a report on sculpture and art in public space that is aimed at municipalities, development companies and other professionals to inspire them "to consider art as a value-creating asset in their own projects."

“Culture and temporary activities are often included in urban development to open up new urban areas and give them identity, involve local citizens, or attract investors and outsiders.”

Christine Buhl Andersen, director of the Glyptotek in Copenhagen, has written an introduction or overview and she emphasises the importance of art in public space …  "art is increasingly used strategically to make urban areas, urban spaces and buildings vibrant and attractive."

The report points out that art in public spaces has a clear role in helping to create a good urban environment but requires a partnership between politicians, architects, planners, developers, builders and artists.

Works of art can be used to decorate or to improve urban spaces and buildings but can do so much more … "art can give the individual building identity, create experiences and contribute to the well-being of the building's users."

established art in public space

 

sculpture of the Glyptotek in Copenhagen

 
 

Sculpture can be part of an outdoor exhibition space … the Glyptotek itself is a good and long-established example with sculpture on and around the building providing open access to art, with decorative portrait busts in niches across the entrance front, decorative panels and the heads of exotic animals, on the building itself; figures, many of workers, on the lawns on either side of the building, and across the back of the art gallery, on the opposite side to the entrance, there is a quiet, pleasant public garden that is also an outdoor gallery for a broad selection of statues.

Much of the sculpture in Copenhagen commemorates major figures - either from the city or national figures including, of course, monarchs, statesmen and major academics, scientists and literary figures.

These are busts or full length figures but there are also more complex representations of the lives of people … an interesting sculpture by Elisabeth Toubro has been added to the line of more traditional busts on plinths across the front of the old university buildings on Frue Plads that commemorates the life and work of the mathematician and seismologist Inge Lehmann.

 

commemorating and remembering through public art …
a statue of Hans Christian Andersen by Augustus Saabye in the King’s Garden: Gottlieb Bindesbøll by Kai Nielsen in the courtyard of Designmuseum Danmark: Steen Eiler Rasmussen by Knud Neilemose at the Royal Academy buildings on Holmen:
a traditional bust of the physicist Niels Bohr at the front of the university buildings on Frue Plads and the less-traditional monument close by to Inge Lehmann by Elisabeth Toubro

traditional art in public spaces

 

Litauens Plads - art, sculpture or street furniture?

 
L1260629.JPG

to mark the site of the important engineering works of Bumeister Wain there is a timeline set in the grass behind the sculpture

Now, many sculptures are designed to be sat on or climbed over and many have an important role in public spaces by encouraging people to sit in or use the space. Are the lines of low cylinders along the edge of the square at Litauens Plads street furniture? The red bird nesting boxes in the trees above suggest a complicated, diverse and subtle use of art works here.

Some artists can be reticent if they feel that their art is there simply to make the area more attractive or, worse, if it is there to increase the value of a development and politically it can be difficult if local people cannot relate to works; find them irrelevant or see the obvious cost as a waste of funds that might better be spent on supporting social projects.

The report looks at several major projects that have included public art in public spaces from the design stage with the examples of new sculpture incorporated into the new developments of Køge Kyst, south of Copenhagen, and Kanalbyen in Fredericia where there has been collaboration to integrate art from the start. 

An ambitious new scheme for public art is evolving at Arken, the major art gallery to the south of Copenhagen. There has been extensive re-landscaping immediately around the art gallery but, because many visitors and tourists come out from Copenhagen by train, Arkenwalk will link the railway station at Ishøj to the art gallery down on the beach - a walk of 2.2 kilometres - with the final design selected after a completion that was entered by 27 teams of artists and architects. The new "art axis" will be marked by very distinct red lamp posts.

new street art

 

The Wave - an interactive light installation by Frederik Svanholm, Mikkel Meyer and Jonas Fehr

the bike and foot bridge by Olafur Eliasson - public art or engineered city planning?

hoardings around the engineering works for the new metro station at Trianglen painted by Benjamin Noir

 

Superkilen in Nørrebro in Copenhagen

Public art is not restricted to sculpture - or at least not what would traditionally be seen as sculpture. Superkilen in Nørrebro has lines of stools and tables marked out with board games and the Circle Bridge by Olafur Eliasson, opposite the national library, with its lighting, blurs the boundary between engineering and public art. Paintings on the high fencing around the sites of the engineering works during the construction of a new Metro line has provided an opportunity for a major project in public art.

Many of these more recent projects, including newer forms of public art in light or with projected video art or sound, are about social engagement but public art can have an important role in attracting people through an area to make it feel used and safe rather than empty and abandoned or underused and under appreciated.

The report identifies a general change in the response to art in the streetscape. It suggests that there is a growing reaction against public art that is temporary or experience orientated or projects that are designed to attract tourists and a move towards "liveability", so art enhancing everyday life for local users of the space … a move towards appreciating art that brings joy, beauty, curiosity, a specific sense of a specific place so context and consideration - in the sense of thoughtfulness - back to enhance how we see and use and occupy public space.

It also includes more mundane but important and practical summaries about realising projects; about determining frameworks and about practical matters of planning for operation and maintenance and even a reminder about seeking information about rules covering Tax and VAT.

Above all the illustrations show just how diverse and just how imaginative public art in public space can be. 

Kunst i Byudvikling
Arkenwalk
Realdania

private art in public space?
a rack for bikes outside the bike shop on Strandgade in Copenhagen
pedals of the stand from a failed experiment to ride side saddle?

 
 

Christian IV

 

location map from the notice of consent granted by the city of Copenhagen

A new statue of the Danish king Christian IV has been unveiled by Queen Margrethe.

It stands at the corner of the forecourt and the ramp up to the main entrance of Børsen - the Royal Exchange - a building that was commissioned by Christian IV.

The statue of the king is in bronze and by the Faroese sculptor Hans Pauli Olsen. It is close in the pose and for the costume to a portrait of the king painted by Abraham Wuchters in 1638 or 1639 where Christian is wearing high riding boots that are loosely fitted with the tops folded down, has his left hand resting on his hip with the right hand outstretched and has a neat beard, heavy head of hair and the famous long, thin, plaited pigtail.

The statue is set on a high stone plinth from where Christian looks across the front of the palace of Christiansborg.

That plinth represents major buildings commissioned in the city by Christian IV with The Round Tower and the distinctive twisted spire of the Exchange and the spire of the tower of Christian's palace of Rosenborg but curiously the stone tower flanked by the spires in bronze are all upside-down … said by the sculptor to be the city that Christian built reflected in water.

The tower is set on a shallow mound in the cobbles that is slightly rustic and also slightly odd as if the whole thing is erupting from the ground.

The cost of the statue has been controversial as has the rather traditional style of the work. A new statue to Christian was first suggested in 2009 but in 2014 the design was rejected by Rådet for Visuel Kunst i Københavns Kommune - the Council of Visual Arts in the City of Copenhagen - on the grounds that "the sculpture does not reflect a contemporary art expression, and therefore lacks sufficient justification and relevance in the present."

The city finally gave consent for the statue by Olsen in January 2018.


background:

Christian was born in 1577 and he was only 11 when his father died. Initially the country was  governed by a regency council but Christian was deemed to have come of age when he was 19 and ruled Denmark from 1596 until his death in 1648.

Through his major building works Christian, more than any monarch, influenced both the plan and the appearance of the city. He remodelled the castle and made Copenhagen the centre of his administration and he commissioned major buildings that are still prominent features of the city including the Brewhouse and Arsenal to the south of the castle; Holmens Kirke - the church of the Royal Navy on the other side of the canal from Børsen - consecrated in 1619; Rosenborg - a private royal residence away from the castle - that was set in formal renaissance gardens on the edge of the city and completed around 1624; Børsen - The Royal Exchange - begun in 1624 and completed in 1640 and The Round Tower and its observatory and Trinitatis Church begun in 1637.

In 1626, Christian initiated work on the north defences of the city that was to become the Kastellet - completed after his death - and he began major engineering works to claim land from the sea - just off the shore and wharves of the old city - and where first Christianshavn was laid out, a planned new town, with defences around the south side and a new south gate to the city and then those defences were extended out to the north to enclose a vast area of sheltered and protected moorings for the naval fleet … an area of water that was subsequently filled with a number of large islands and canals that became the naval warehouses and dockyards of Holmen.

 

Oslo Plads

Osterport Air.jpeg

Oslo Plads is in front of the station and takes the road over the railway
the building being converted and extended by KHR is in the top angle of the junction with the Citadel to the right - to the east - the main railway station building to the left - to the west - Den Frie opposite, on the other side of the junction and the northern-most houses of the famous 17th-century Nyboder centre bottom

towards the top left of the view are the engineering works for the new Metro station that will open this summer and on the left edge of the view are the earthworks and lakes that survive from the historic city defences … it would be difficult to find a more prominent or more sensitive site for a new development in Copenhagen

Designed by the Copenhagen architects KHR - this building, on Oslo Plads in Copenhagen, is not finished but has, already, attracted a huge amount of criticism.

It has been described as looking like a collapsed cake; one national newspaper critic has suggested that it should be nominated for an award as the grimmest building in the city; someone on the board of a conservation society has demanded that work should stop immediately and members of the planning committee are already stepping back from their decision to give consent by saying that it looks nothing like the drawings.

It is not actually a new building but a dramatic remodelling of a single-storey and very brutal concrete block that was a supermarket and sports shop with an extension to the railway station - Østerport Station - immediately to the left in this view.

The building was L-shaped, facing onto both roads with a courtyard at a lower level to the back, in the angle of the L, where a new office building has been constructed.

The design was bound to be contentious because this is an incredibly sensitive site … the ornate station building dates from just after 1900; opposite the building - behind the camera in this view - is a very quirky wooden building that was used by a famous group of landscape painters and is now an art gallery - Den Frie - Gustafskyrkan - the Swedish Church on the other side of the road, to the right in this view, was completed in 1911 and is a very fine building and, more important, immediately behind the church is the Kastellet - the citadel - with ramparts dating from the late 17th century and one of the most important green spaces in the city.

An extra floor has been added above the supermarket but it is the odd, raspberry-sorbet colour of the glass cladding and the unrelenting horizontal line of the front that seems to be the problem.

A wider issue is actually one about road planning: this is an incredibly wide junction with traffic heading out of the city along the coast to Hellerup and Klampenborg to the north that crosses in front of the station and traffic for the Oslo Ferry terminal, traffic for the new district of Nordhavn - North Harbour - and tourists buses for the cruise ship terminals all head along the road past the church.

The solution, over the years, has been to make the roads wider and wider - to create separate filter lanes for dealing with the traffic lights - and this has taken away much of the pavement but it is hardly a ringing endorsement for a new building to say that it might look better set back beyond a deep pavement heavily planted with trees.

 

the DJ on the bridge

 

This was taken as I crossed over the lakes on Dronningen Louises Bro - the Queen Louise Bridge - heading back into the city early one evening just before the Easter weekend.

It was seriously loud and seriously good electronic music and he was completely in his own world …oblivious of the people standing around and oblivious of the traffic heading out of the city.

For a blog about design and architecture this might seem a bit irrelevant but it makes an important point about planning and about how people use and take over public space.

The bridge is wide but not that wide but this parapet faces south-west so this pavement catches the best of the evening sun. It's on the way home for people heading back from the city to Nørrebro and as the parapet and pavement is over 130 metres long this is a good place to see and be seen and drink a beer … if you have remembered to buy some on the way.

update - Sankt Kjelds Plads - climate change landscape

Sankt Kjelds Plads in July 2018 - looking towards Hahnemanns Køkken - the cafe on the north side of the square

 

the same view in April 2019

Sankt Kjelds Plads is in a densely-built area of older apartment buildings about 4 kilometres directly north from the city hall.

Many of the buildings here date from the 1930s but there are large modern office buildings and large and relatively recent industrial buildings and a large supermarket to the west.

The area has a distinct urban character with relatively wide streets but little planting and not just on street parking but also fairly heavy through traffic. From the air you can see that most of the large apartment blocks have extremely pleasant courtyards with planting but the real problem for this area is that climate change has meant occasional but very destructive flooding from sudden rain storms with traditional street drainage unable to deal with surface water on the streets and with rain running off the roofs of the large buildings.

The solution has been to put in fast-flowing storm drains, surface channels to take water away to tanks or sumps where it can be controlled, and, where necessary, filtered and then released into the drainage system but at an appropriate rate. These sudden storms may last for only an hour but in that time there can be a depth of 30 centimetres of water across the road that stops traffic, floods basements and ground-floor apartments and businesses and takes road-level pollution through the drains and to the harbour and the sound.

Along with this hard landscaping of drains and surface gullies, the other solution is extensive planting that absorbs rainfall - apart from the most severe storms - and adds considerably to the amenity value of the street scape.

Here at Sankt Kjelds Plads, seven roads converge at what was a very large traffic round-a-bout. That was planted with shrubs and trees but it certainly was not a place to sit. In fact, with the heavy traffic, it was not a place where many people even cut across.

With the current scheme, small areas of pavement in front of the buildings have been pulled forward and the traffic discouraged and the round-a-bout reduced significantly in size. The new areas are densely planted and have pathways curving through them with seats . Sunken areas will flood when there are storms, to act as holding tanks, but have planting that will cope with short periods of partial submersion.

This will be the first full growing season for the trees and shrubs and ground cover so it is not fair to judge the scheme until everything becomes more established but already the transformation is obvious.

This large open space links through with the climate-change landscaping of Tåsinge Plads, about 85 metres away to the east, and the main north south road through Sankt Kjelds Plads - Bryggervangen - is also being planted to form a green corridor from the large park - Fælledparken - to the south and continuing through to an open area and pond to the north beyond Kildevældskirke.

more images and map

post on Sankt Kjelds Plads July 2018
post on Tåsinge Plads July 2018

looking across Sankt Kjelds Plads from the south side - although it is hard to see through the new planting, the traffic island is still at the centre but has been reduced significantly in size

 

aerial view of Sankt Kjelds Plads after the main landscape work on Tåsinge Plads had been completed - the thin triangular street space on the right towards the bottom - and just before construction work on Sankt Kjelds Plads began so this shows the original traffic island and areas for people to walk kept to the edge immediately in front of the buildings

brickwork

Someone told me that in the late 19th century, as more and more buildings in Copenhagen were built in brick, with brickwork with ornate patterns or fine moulded or shaped details in brick, bricklayers were sent off to Germany to learn to do it properly.

I’m not sure if that is true or not but certainly by the 1890s and into the early 20th century, better buildings in Copenhagen had very good high-quality brickwork with a lot of ornament.

By the 1920s, with the arrival of first classical and then functional styles for the best architecture, brickwork, generally, became less ornate but still of a high quality and not just for public buildings but also for the better apartment buildings.

Patterns of coursing and the use of different colours of brick together enliven what would otherwise be stark or severe exteriors. This apartment block was built in 1930 and is in Skoleholdervej - the road that runs across the south boundary of the north-west cemetery.

Similar brickwork, with alternate courses set forward and back to create the effect of horizontal ribbing, has been used at Amaryllis Hus - the new apartment building in Valby but in sunk panels beside windows within a regular square grid.

update - Gammel Strand

 

the official site for the city Metro has news, general information, drawings and a short description of the new stations along with pdf plans of the area around each station at street level

Work is moving forward fast on the hard landscaping at street level above the new metro station at Gammel Strand … a station on the new circle line that will open later in the summer.

The steps down to the platforms and the glass covered lift tower are in place and setts are now being laid in the traditional scallop pattern across the main area so the new arrangement for this important historic street is becoming clear.

There was consultation with local businesses and local residents. Vehicles will be excluded, apart from deliveries, so the only through traffic will be a new narrow bike lane but with markings showing lanes to cycle in both directions.

The existing road, now being removed, runs parallel to the building frontages with just a narrow pavement so with little space for outside tables and chairs for the restaurants here. With the bike lane set forward closer to and parallel to the canal there should be much more space for people to sit outside and the gentle curve of the bike lane takes that bike traffic along the side of the canal further west rather than running as the road does now through in a straight line to Snaregade.

There will be steps down from the street level of Gammel Strand to a lower canal-side level for access to boats but as a sun trap it will certainly be used by people simply wanting to sit and watch what is happening on the water.

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Update - Karen Blixens Plads

 

A bright if slightly cold Sunday afternoon so it seemed like a good time to walk over to the south campus of the University of Copenhagen to look at progress on the new landscaping for Karen Blixens Plads by COBE.

The main construction work is finished and the paving done but the area is still fenced off although it might be the best time to take photographs before it gets swamped with bikes and students.

earlier post

COBE

Dorotheavej apartments by BIG

 

 

This new apartment building on Dorotheavej - affordable housing designed by Bjarke Ingels Group - has just been nominated for the Bygningspræmiering - the annual city architectural award.

Out to the north-west of the city centre, just over 4 kilometres from city hall, this is an interesting area just below Bispebjerg and Nordvest cemetery, with a mixture of older apartment buildings and new apartment developments but also older industrial buildings on either side of a main road and, to the west, just beyond this site, low suburban housing.

The main road, Frederiksborgvej runs north - climbing up the long slope up to Bispebjerg - and Dorotheavej is on the west side, itself rising up a slope across the hill, with the new apartment building just in from the main road and on a very wide site with a long frontage to the street that faces south.

The form of the block is a long, gentle and sinuous curve back away from the street towards the centre but hard against the pavement at each end with the area in front planted with grass and trees. There is a high and wide archway through to the back of the building at the point where that curve is furthest back from the street.

The apartments have the typical through form - typical for Copenhagen - so here with a series of seven separate entrances along the façade and each giving access to a staircase with an apartment on each side at each level those apartments are relatively narrow but deep and run through from front to back of the block. 

 

Fællesskaber Mellem Murene / Communities Between the Walls

 

 

This exhibition is on the three levels of the staircase gallery at the Danish Architecture Centre and is about art projects that have been used to bring about positive changes in vulnerable residential areas.

People living in these large housing schemes can feel marginalised or can be isolated by poverty and many, newly arrived in Denmark, are separated from the support of family or old friends. Becoming involved in art - or merely being given access to something new and something that is special to where they live - can improve day-to-day life or can stimulate a new interest; create a sense of involvement; bring a new sense of pride to an area and can create a sense of ownership and a sense belonging to a place.

Several of the projects give people an opportunity to tell their own story as an individual rather than being simply an anonymous part of a larger statistic about crime or poverty … statistics that quantify and define problems but can only be a starting point for resolving them.

Projects shown here are in Tingbjerg in Copenhagen; Gellerupplaned, to the west of the city centre in Aarhus, and a projects around Blagværd, a northern suburb of Copenhagen, including Kunst Vild in VærebroPark in Gladsaxe. 

Communities Without Walls
continues at Danish Architecture Centre
until 2 June 2019

smart city data in action …..

 

The 5C bus route through the city provides one good example of the use of smart data in Copenhagen.

New buses were introduced on this major cross-city route last year. These buses cross the city - passing through the major transport hub at Nørreport, stoping at the central railway station and run out to the airport so it is crucial that passengers have reliable and up-to-date information.

Displays at the bus stop show arrival times for buses approaching the stop - an information service already well established on other bus routes - but once on the bus there are side panels that show the next stop and route maps with information about changing to another bus service whose route intersects. Large overhead displays updates to show clearly, for the next stop, times for buses on other routes and, as the bus approaches the central station, there is not just information about the next available train and the time of departure (updated in real time) but also the number of the platform where the train will depart.

Passengers have access to the same data on their phones if they are planning their route ahead and phones, and for passengers travelling with a rejsekort or travel card, an app on a home computer records trip details for reference but also, of course, this data is available for the efficient management of the system.

With the opening of a new circle line of the metro this year and with plans for a light railway, the system will, more than now, allow passengers to swap between different systems and data systems will make this as easy and as reliable as possible.

Life Between Buildings


Life Between Buildings - Using Public Space, by Jan Gehl, 1971
first English edition 1987 and new edition in English 2006 and 2011

 

In the introduction to this edition, Jan Gehl explains that Life Between Buildings was published in the 1970s to point out "the shortcomings of the functionalistic architecture and city planning that dominated the period."

"The book asked for concern for the people who were to move about in the spaces between the buildings, it urged for an understanding for the subtle qualities, which throughout the history of human settlements, had been related to the meetings of people in the public spaces, and had pointed to the life between buildings as a dimension of architecture, urban design and city planning to be carefully treated."

Although the first edition was published over 30 years ago, walking around recent developments on Amager and in the South Harbour area and certainly when walking around the redevelopment of the Carlsberg site, it appears that, even now, too often, the observations set out by Jan Gehl have been forgotten or ignored. There are seats and there is planting but too often these seem to be a token scattering of street furniture rather than reflecting a coherent approach for these areas.

 
 

Israels Plads - Copenhagen's biggest urban carpet

Life Between Buildings 3

In 2016 there was an exhibition - Our Urban Living Room- Learning from Copenhagen - at the Danish Architecture Centre that looked at the work of Dan Stubbegaard and his architectural office COBE established in 2006. In the catalogue, the work by COBE on redesigning the large public square at Israels Plads - completed in 2014 - is described as “Copenhagen's biggest urban carpet” and there is a sketch of the square with the surface drawn like a giant Persian rug with tiny people on it and the corners rucked up.

These corners of the carpet are now the bold steps rising up across the south-east corner of the square and a prominent V-shape of steep steps at the north-west corner of the square that covers an exit ramp from the underground car park below the square.

Israels Plads has new trees in a bold pattern of circular planting and seating areas; courts for sport; play equipment for children; open space for events like flea markets and plenty of areas where people can sit and watch was is happening here.

With this extensive new work, the square is now closely linked to a large and well-used public park immediately to the west and is adjacent to Torvehallerne - very popular food halls - immediately to the east, that opened in 2011. This is all just a block away from the major transport interchange of the station at Nørreport - an area also remodelled by COBE - so within a few years, and with justification, Israels Plads has become one of the most popular and best-used public spaces in the city.

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