Den Danske Model / The Danish Model

Since the Danish Architecture Center moved to their new building, in addition to a series of major exhibitions, there have been small displays and video presentations in lobbies, on staircases and spaces around the building that have included video interviews with Danish designers and architects and areas with examples of classic Danish furniture.

With the large exhibition on the work of the architecture studio BIG - Forgiving - From Big Bang to Singularity - now occupying so much of the exhibition space then the more general introduction to Danish architecture and design is currently in The Hall - the area above the main exhibition space that can be used as a venue or conference space or lecture theatre.

Made in Denmark has a number of long banner panels - with interesting quotes about design from Martin Nyrup, Jens Thomas Arnfred, Anders Lendager and others - and they are also showing the short film The Danish Model.

Obviously, the film is best seen on a large screen but as this part of the exhibition programme will change in October and, as it is an extremely good introduction to modern Danish design, then the link to the film through vimeo is included here.

 
 
 

BIG will be less big

PLAY - the section of the exhibition in the Golden Gallery

model in LEGO of the new headquarters for LEGO designed by BIG

Formgiving - from Big Bang to Singularity - the current exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre on the work of the Danish architecture practice BIG - the Bjarke Ingels Group - is ….…. well the best word is big.

It has taken over nearly all the exhibition space in the new building. It's in the lobby from the underground car park; it's by the ticket desk; it climbs up the main staircase and on the way fills the smaller exhibition space known as the Golden Gallery; fills the main exhibition area - literally from floor to ceiling - and then comes down through the different separate landings of the staircase that takes visitors back down to the shop and then the exit.

The exhibition will continue until the 12 January 2020 but actually this is the last few weeks to see the full exhibition because on 20 October the part titled PLAY in the Golden Gallery will be dismantled for a new exhibition - the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition that will open on the 8 November - and the part of the exhibition down the staircase to return to the shop will revert to the exhibition space for the Dreyer’s Gallery that showcases the work of young, newly-established architects.

The part of the BIG exhibition titled Play in the Golden Gallery is part of the introduction to the main exhibition and this is where there are a series of models of key building from BIG that are made from LEGO and with stacks of LEGO bricks in the centre for children (of all ages) to try their hand at designing and building.

The landings on the narrow staircase back down show the possible future for the architecture practice under the titles THINK, SENSE, MAKE and MOVE as you descend and looks at how architecture could develop to end with ideas about moving a colony of people to Mars. BIG think big.

Formgiving - from Big Bang to Singularity
Danish Architecture Center
Dreyer’s Gallery

 

The Viking Ship Hall in Roskilde

There is growing controversy about the future of the Viking Museum in Roskilde.

The ship hall designed by Erik Christian Sørensen was completed in 1968 to house the remains of five Viking-age ships that were discovered and recovered from the Roskilde Fjord in the 1950s.

It is a stark concrete building - some would say brutal - but it provides a dramatic setting for the archaeological displays with a wall of glass that looks north out to the sea.

But there are serious problems with the concrete - with water damage and iron reinforcements too close to the surface - and, because the necessary repairs would be prohibitively expensive, permission has been given, with some reluctance, for the building to be demolished even though it was given protection status in 1998.

Now, a European conservation group has listed the Ship Hall as one of the top 100 modern concrete buildings in Europe and it is not clear quite what the museum and the government agency responsible for historic buildings - Slots og Kulturstyrelsen - will do now.

a new park by the Opera 

The Opera designed by Henning Larsen was completed in 2005 and is the most prominent modern building along the harbour in Copenhagen. It’s at the centre of a wide rectangular island or, rather, on the central island of three islands side by side with narrow canals hard against either side of the opera building and crossed by narrow bridges out to the flanking islands.

In the original scheme, these flanking islands were destined to be developed with expensive apartment buildings but then along came the global recession and since then everything has been on hold. 

The island to the north, about 160 metres wide and 160 metres deep but cut into by a dock from the harbour frontage, has been covered with tarmac and is used for car parking although there is a fine gantry crane across the north side and a 19th-century brick pumping house. The island to the south, tapering slightly from the width of the opera house site at its north end down to 122 metres deep at the south end, has been left as a wide area of grass with relatively small trees planted as formal avenues but not competing with the scale of the opera house and barely masking its south or side frontage.

Krøyers Plads - a development of large and expensive apartments some 500 metres south of the opera house - also faces onto the harbour and was also built around an existing dock but the that scheme was mired in planning controversies and the original plan for tall tower blocks was modified and modified and modified until it is now a relatively acceptable pastiche of historic warehousing or at least reminiscent of historic warehouses in scale and silhouette. 

Papirøen or Paper Island - between Krøyers Plads and the opera - had low concrete warehouses built in the late 20th century - where paper for the city newspapers was stored so hence the name - has been cleared and work recently started on rebuilding the quay side and with major excavations for new buildings but apparently funding for the apartment blocks and a new harbour swimming pool here has slowed so completion dates have moved further away.

Clearly, now is not the right time to build expensive apartments on either side of the opera house so proposals for the area immediately south of the opera have changed. A large underground car park is to be constructed here and a park above it will be densely planted with trees. This scheme has been drawn up by the architecture and planning team of COBE who finally saw the Krøyers Plads buildings realised - although they were not involved in the original proposal - and they produced the initial planning proposals for Paper Island.

However, there seem still to be two problems.

Since it opened, the opera House has been relatively difficult to reach. Until two years ago, and first the completion of new foot bridges over the Christianshavn canals and then the opening of a new bike and foot bridge between Nyhavn and Christiansholm, it was a long walk up from Knipplesbro or an odd route by bus. And it was a longer drive by car around the outside of Christianshavn to come at the opera from the north through the buildings of Holmen - now part of the Royal Academy.

To be able to walk under cover from an underground car park against the side of the opera house, through a tunnel under the canal, and into the opera house at a lower level sounds convenient but I’m still not clear how you will drive there and unclear how it can be justified on ecological grounds where the trend in the city is to remove cars from the centre.

More important, in terms of architecture and planning, is that the opera house and anything on either side hides the four great naval warehouses built in line in the middle of the 18th century, and, with masting sheds and the great crane, these are one of the great and singular features of historic Copenhagen. The warehouses and mast sheds faced across an expanse of open water where the fleet anchored, to the royal palace on the west side of the harbour …….. until the islands were built in front of them and the opera house muscled in.

COBE - The Opera Park

Opera House.jpeg

St Catherine's College

DR - Danish Broadcasting Corporation - are showing the British crime series Endeavour but retitled here in Denmark as Unge Morse or Young Morse.

Set in Oxford in the 1960s, this is the prequel to the very popular detective series Inspector Morse that was made for ITV and broadcast in England through the 1990s.

This episode of Unge Morse - Bytte or Game - plays out around a chess match between a Russian Grand Master and a computer developed in Oxford.

The computer is pretty amazing - all reel-to-reel tapes and green screens and of course not a UI in sight and, for its architecture, there is an interesting role for a public swimming pool but the star of the programme this week is actually a building designed by Arne Jacobsen … St Catherine's College in Oxford although for the TV drama it becomes Lovelace College.

St Catherine’s was completed in 1964 but retains much of the original furniture and light fittings by Jacobsen so look out for the Series 3300 in a corridor and, of course, the high-backed chairs in plywood designed by Jacobsen and made by Fritz Hansen for the high table of the great hall and now known as the Oxford Series.

 

curious!

April 2019

August 2019

And no the captions are not the wrong way round. That’s what is curious.

This is the new building alongside the suburban railway station of Østerport in Copenhagen designed by KHR Architecture … or rather it is an extensive remodelling of an existing line of shop units that had a fairly brutal street frontage in concrete and now has a new frontage, now offices above the shops and a new office building behind.

Everything is clad - or more accurately everything was clad - in rather distinct panels of glass with a sort of strong raspberry-ice-cream colour. The design has been heavily criticised in the press, in part as being inappropriate on this prominent site, and in part for the glass that reflected bright sunlight and was said to dazzle or even blind car drivers. One critic described it as the “grimmest building” in the city.

Photographed yesterday - as I happened to be walking by on my way somewhere else - it looks as if all the cladding on the front towards the road has been removed. I’m curious to know exactly why and will watch to see what happens next.

Oslo Plads

voted the grimmest

Formgivning … from big bang to singularity

  • Connect by Bjarke Ingels and Simon Frommenwiler at entrance

  • BIG at BLOX

  • stairs up with the start of time line

  • PLAY - models of the buildings in LEGO

  • SHOW - Manhattan

  • HOST and LIFT

  • proposal by BIG for BIG in Nordhavn

 

BIG - the Bjarke Ingels Group - have taken over the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen so this exhibition is not just in the two main galleries but flows up and down the staircases and even reaches out into the entrance area. About the only space not occupied by BIG is the half-in-half-out space of the lobby to the underground car park and they also missed an opportunity to take over the public square in front of the building.

Bjarke Ingels is one of the best communicator of ideas and theories about modern architecture - his talks on line are exceptional - so here, at several points in the exhibition, there are life-sized images of the man himself introducing his work and explaining his theories and their application to the phenomenal number of major projects with which BIG have been involved over the last fifteen years.

The main staircase, climbing up from the entrance level, has become a time-line of architectural and cultural history … “the history and future of how thinking, sensing, making, and moving have evolved and will continue to evolve.”

In the gallery at the first landing, PLAY has models of 25 BIG buildings but made by master model makers using plastic LEGO bricks.

Ingels designed LEGO House, in Billund, for the company - completed in 2017 - and here that partnership - between the company and Ingels - is reinforced. This makes a serious point that getting children to see architecture and design as fun from the start - from playing with building bricks or by building dens or play houses - then their approach to their built environment as adults will be more informed and more curious and possibly more adventurous - but the models in LEGO also make sense of these large and complicated buildings by BIG in the way that cartoons or sketches from a good artist can focus our attention on the essential elements of a complicated idea.

Up on the main exhibition area, the floor has been painted with swirls of strong colour that take you to colour-coded areas for this part of the exhibition with each area covering one of the series of main themes. It's a way to group complicated but apparently diverse commissions with sections including - among many others - LIFT, HOST, MARRY and GROW … caps courtesy of the exhibition designer and not mine.

Architectural drawings and rendered digital views - again all colour coded - hang from the high ceiling like banners so it feels like entering a huge medieval bazaar with a touch of Mad Max or Burning Man.

  • model for new apartment building on Dorotheavej in Copenhagen

 

In each section, on trestles, there are architectural models.

Scale models for building projects are the traditional and the well-established tool of the architect and usually a final stage between concept and reality. Models can be the best way for the client and the planning officers to understand what the architect wants to do and models are particularly important if people distrust sketches or are not comfortable with reading and understanding plans and scale drawings.

Here, many of the models are internally lit - to add to the drama - and several use colour for the model that is not used in the final construction but emphasises the main volumes or large building blocks of the architectural composition and there are also some projects where a series of models show how a project evolved as different arrangements of volumes and primary building blocks were tried and ideas developed.

Down the stairs to leave and you find the BIG vision for the future - our future - including concept studies for people building on Mars. As you walk down the stairs, the sections are headed LEAP, THINK, SENSE, MAKE, MOVE.

As an exhibition, it is overwhelming and I will have to get into training and start overloading on energy bars before going back to think about a more carefully-considered review to add to this initial impression. Even if it sounds like it, I'm not carping or trying to be cynical. Seen together, these projects by BIG are impressive and the exhibition really is inspiring. So … the first impression is that it is overwhelming but inspiring.

Ingels is clearly driven - by enthusiasm and with passion - and revelations of theories underlying his ideas should, at the very least, initiate serious discussion about what we need from our buildings now and encourage people to think more about what we want in the future or, to quote, “rather than attempt to predict the future, we have the power to propose our future” although I’m still not sure if that we with the power is us or BIG.

It is appropriate that this exhibition follows on from the retrospective, here at DAC last year, that looked at the life and works of Ove Arup. Both men, although so different in character, can be seen as philosophers who, rather than write, build and make. Both set out to challenge the preconceptions of the staid or the cautious, to move architecture and engineering forward an alternative to simply making sequential improvements or recycling ideas.

If there is one omission, it is that Ingels fronts an atelier - a team of 600 professionals who are divided between offices in Copenhagen, London, Barcelona and New York - but from this first look at Formgivning there seems to be little sense of how responsibility is managed or delegated: an architectural practice on this scale and with this throughput of commissions is as much about management skills and, with growing fame, about the management of expectations as it is about inspiration.

And there is an aspect of modern architecture that the exhibition skirts around and that is the problems and the realities of the present. We tend to gloss over or ignore obvious mistakes of the past as now they are in the past and we want to be rushing on towards the buildings and the materials and the life style and the promises of an attractive and imminent future but in reality, and to be honest, architecture and building, particularly on the scale of many of these projects, is a protracted process where the present is the slowest part. The limbo of the present. Many of the designs here were commissioned five or more years ago and could take a decade to complete or might, even now, be shelved or abandoned as political or environmental pressure dictates a different course.

A case in point is shown in the exhibition with drawings and models for a new building in Nordhavn - the North Harbour - that has been designed by BIG for BIG.

It has been on hold for months because the proposals submitted were rejected in the planning process. A future on hold is frustrating but, sometimes, to take stock and to have to defend a design and to have to fight a corner or, even, when necessary, to accept and understand and take on board concerns should not thwart inspiration but could mean a better building but, in reality, it can be a slow and frustrating process.

BLOX, the new home of the Danish Architecture Centre by the architectural practice OMA, was commissioned in 2008 and completed in 2018. It has been heavily criticised but the rejoinder has been that if this building was commissioned today, it would not be this building that would be commissioned. Will that also be true for some of major projects from BIG that are shown here but are still to be realised?

If there has to be one single and simple contribution that the exhibition makes, it is that Ingels - in the very title of the exhibition - seems to challenge our use of the word design.

For at least the last decade, the word design has been kidnapped by marketing men so, for too many, design has become not so much a process but little more than an ingredient … a selling point to up the amount on the price tag.

Bjarke Ingels seems to have thrown in the towel and abandoned the word to go back to a Scandinavian notion of giving form so, the role of the architect is to have the idea and then to make that idea real … to have the idea and to give it form.

 

Formgivning / Formgiving
an architectural future history from Big Bang to Singularity
continues at Dansk Arkitektur Center / Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen
until 5 January 2020

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 ….

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.

 
 

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.

 

Amaryllis Hus

The annual Building Awards in Copenhagen were established in 1902 but it was only last year that citizens were asked to vote for a public award for one of the buildings on the list of finalists.

Last year the building selected for that first public award was Axeltorv / Axel Towers by Lundgaard & Tranberg Arkitekter.

The winner this year is interesting. From a diverse list of unusual and quite adventurous building projects around the city, the public selected an apartment with a high-rise tower out of the city, just under 5 kilometres from city hall, out to the south west beyond Vestre Kirkegård … the western cemetery.

This is Amaryllis Hus on Paradisæblevej - designed by Mangor & Nagel and part of a major redevelopment of Grønttorvet - the old wholesale vegetable market - a short walk from Ny Ellebjerg station.

read more

 
 

Irreplaceable Landscapes - by Dorte Mandrup

model of Vadehavscentret / The Wadden Sea Center in Vester Vedsted - completed in 2017

 

With the title Irreplaceable Landscapes, this major exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre starts with the new Icefjord visitor centre and research centre that overlooks the Sermeq Kujalleq glacier in Ilusulissat on the west coast of Greenland.

Then, in the main exhibition space at BLOX, are models and information panels for an astounding trilogy of buildings - the three new visitor centres designed by Dorte Mandrup in three different countries that overlook three of the distinct seascapes of Vadehavet / The Wadden Sea.

Vadehavscentret - The Wadden Sea Center - overlooks the marshland of Vester Vedsted in Denmark; the Vadehavscenter - Wadden Sea World Heritage Center - in Wilhelmshaven in Germany incorporates the remains of a war-time bunker and Vadehavscenter - The Wadden Sea Center -  is on the tidal waters of Lauwersoog in the Netherlands.

read more

Irreplaceable Landscapes continues at the Danish Architecture Centre until 26 May 2019

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. 

 

Bauhaus #itsalldesign

Designmuseum Danmark, Bredgade 68, Copenhagen

A major exhibition has opened at Designmuseum Danmark on the history, the staff and their teaching and the work of the Bauhaus school of architecture and design.

This reassessment was conceived by Vitra Design Museum and Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn to mark 100 years since the opening of the Bauhaus.

review to follow

the exhibition continues until 1 December 2019
Designmuseum Danmark

 

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.

read more

 

How to Build a Good City - Jan Gehl on Louisiana Channel 

 

If you don’t know Copenhagen well, or if you have not come across the work of Jan Gehl and his approach to planning in the city, then a good place to start is with How to Build a Good City - an interview with Gehl that was posted last year on Louisiana Channel.

I have been meaning for some time to post a link here to Louisiana Channel. This is an important and fascinating series of on-line films and long interviews from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art and although, as you would expect, many of the interviews relate directly to exhibitions at the museum or to the works of artists in their collection, the films range widely in their subjects and locations … there are interviews with leading architects and designers, including several with Bjarke Ingels, a series of interviews about the work of Jørn Uttzon and an interview, posted recently, is with Kim Herforth Nielsen of the architectural practice 3XN about their designs for the new Fish Market in Sydney.

 

Louisiana Channel

Margrethe Kaas at Design Werck

 

An exhibition has just opened at Design Werck in Copenhagen of paintings and sculptures by the Danish architect and artist Margrethe Kaas. The gallery space at Design Werck has beautiful light in space where furniture and decorative arts are also shown.

Margrethe Kaas was given her first set of paints at the age of four and painting has, for her, been a major vehicle for exploring colour. The large-scale colour studies show an architectural sense of planes and space and there are also topographic studies including here painting from visits to New York and London and a painting to reflect the colours and energy of Berlin.

the exhibition continues at Design Werck through to 31 March 2019

Margrethe Kaas
Design Werck

KAFFE Cobe

 

When work started on the new development on Papirøen / Paper Island at the centre of the harbour opposite the national theatre and the warehouses there were demolished then Cobe - the planning and architecture studio of Dan Stubbergaard - had to move out and they moved to Nordhavn to former warehouses on Orientkaj.

This is more than appropriate for Cobe produced the masterplan for this major area of redevelopment and, of course, designed the restoration of a concrete silo here that is now apartments and slated to become possibly the iconic building of contemporary Copenhagen.

At the old site, behind the popular food halls, they had a fairly open house and here, to encourage visitors, as the new community out here grows, they have opened a café at the entrance from the quay.

In partnership with Depanneur, they serve good coffee, basic but good rolls and cakes and beer and so on. There is a long communal table and also low seating and Cobe show models and photographs of their work around the space and there is a carefully-selected range of books and design items for sale.

Depanneur
Cobe

 
 
 
 

design by Bjarke Ingels rejected

Bjarke Ingels submitted proposals for a large new building at the outer end of Orientkaj in Nordhavn that would have dominated the entrance to the inner harbour. This was to be a new headquarters for his architecture company BIG but the application was submitted anonymously - without the name of the architect or of the occupant - and it has just been rejected.

This would be a very substantial building with eight floors but with a large square footprint that gives it rather squat proportions and the building was to be in concrete and, unfortunately, even good drawings submitted for the application still managed to make it look brutal.

Unfortunate because, as Ingels himself explained in a subsequent statement, he was attempting to use concrete in a more honest way.

I have written here in many posts about the new buildings going up so quickly across the South Harbour or on the new Carlsberg development and here at Nordhavn and they go up so quickly simply because they are built with pre-formed slabs of concrete for floors and walls but the outside is then disguised by a veneer of facing materials that are, in most cases, unrelated to the form of building and the logic of the structure underneath. In strict architectural terms they are dishonest.

The drawings of the building proposed by Bjarke Ingels show that it would be very large and it certainly dwarfs the large warehouses that are to the west of the site on the same quay but the proportions are actually good and the series of ramps or diagonal lines respecting a complex arrangement of external and internal staircases is clever, giving the facades a regular spiral that is an echo of the design by Ingels for Søfart - his brilliant design for the maritime museum at Helsingør - but here rising up rather than there spiralling down.

Concrete done badly for cheap and quick building can be horrendous but it can also be a material of real quality when used well and, although the building here would have been large, and dominate Orientkaj, it would, at least, have returned the harbour front to something closer to the bold forms that are a strong part of the recent development of Langelinie Kaj on the seaward side of the former Free Port and those buildings echo the scale and simple forms of the large historic warehouses of the inner harbour.

 
big nordhavn 2.jpg

the site for the proposed building is to the right of the brick and concrete warehouse - itself a substantial building - view from the south west from Fortkaj