Sankt Hans Aften

Sankt Hans Aften is the celebrations on the evening before the Feast Day of St John the Baptist and, close to the summer solstice and the longest day, is also linked with more ancient legends and beliefs for this is the evening when witches fly to the Broken or Bloksberg in the Harz Mountains - a story that inspired the music known as Night on a Bare Mountain that was composed by Mussirgsky with a later orchestral version by Rimsky-Korsakov.

In Denmark the celebrations open with traditional songs before the bonfire are lit.

Not much to do with architecture and planning …….. or rather this is a brilliant example that shows where city planning has to create public spaces that can be a venue and can cope with events like this that attract huge crowds.

Ofelia Plads - the relatively new public space immediately north of the National Theatre and across the harbour from the Opera House - can accommodate surprisingly large crowds and with plenty of room for food stalls and with good access …. there is plenty of parking spaces for cars below the wharf and for public transport, the quayside is at the end of a bus route that terminates at the end of Sankt Annæ Plads and there is a stop for the harbour ferry just the other side of the theatre …… oh and there is plenty of water if the bonfire should take on a life of its own.

The floating bonfires at the end of Nyhavn and at Ofelia Plads on the Eve of Sankt Hans.

Refshaleøen as a venue for the Copenhagen Photo Festival

Although there are exhibitions all over the city, Refshaleøen is the centre for the Copenhagen Photo Festival.

The area - with huge but abandoned buildings from the shipyards here until the 1990s - has an incredible atmosphere - part dereliction and decay and part alive with energy as the area is being transformed.

It's definitely photogenic with amazing materials, colours and texture and with strong contrasts between areas of decay hard against buildings and areas being given a new life.

But there is an odd disjunction ….

The area has become a playground for the city. Of course that's not in itself a bad thing because Copenhagen needs somewhere where people can make a noise - the heavy metal festival Copenhell is out here at the end of the month - or make a mess and it's somewhere artists and makers and young start-up companies can find work space with low or relatively low rents for now in this interim period before developers and money men move in and they are driven out. The area feels consciously edgy but maybe slightly hyper because everyone knows the clock is ticking.

There are actually expensive places here to eat and drink alongside a huge variety of foods from the food market … and I'm not knocking any of that … I'm as middle class as you can get and come out here to Lille Bakery to buy some of the best bread in the city … but ……

And this is where my inner puritan kicks in …Refshaleøen was a huge and, for the post-war Danish economy, a crucial industrial site where thousands of men worked and worked hard and the memory of that is fading and disappearing. Machinery, hoists, cranes have all gone with little remaining to tell you what was done and where.

I'm not romanticising work that must, for many, have been hard and grim. It's just that it is now 30 years since ships were made here so there must be fewer and fewer people alive who actually worked in the yards. Should people now still try to understand all that and remember? Do we need to understand how we got here to make sense of where we are going?

If you stopped any of the foreign students arriving in droves on their bikes or any of the tourists off the ferry and asked them then very few would even know that this part of the city had been a shipyard. Does that matter?

My first trips to Copenhagen were after the ship yards closed, so I have no first-hand idea of what this area was like through the 1950s and 1960s, except from looking at old photos and maps  and maybe that is the other odd thing that few visitors will understand … this land was claimed from the sea, became a major industrial area and failed and dismantled and abandoned in just three decades. In an age when we are more and more concerned about our impact on our planet, is Refshaleøen a stark example of man moving in, transforming a landscape and moving on leaving the mess … so a monument to hubris … or a lesson in pragmatism … our ability to salvage and make something new once the old is no longer of use?

And if I missed the shipyards, I do remember the area before gentrification began … exploring and taking odd photographs of scrap yards and wire fences and vicious guard dogs and feeling uneasy, knowing I was intruding, and waiting to be challenged or seen off at any moment.

Again I'm not romanticising that in any way but maybe cities need scruffy land on the edge of regulations and outside planning and controls although, I guess, that is not on the agenda of the politicians and developers.

improve life in Copenhagen?


At this time of year, it's not easy to remember that Copenhagen is not just a city of tourists and the shop window for Danish design and architecture but is a large and complex city with a diverse population that has the social problems and the disparities of wealth and all the environmental challenges faced by any city.

With the approach of national elections in Denmark, a recent article in the newspaper Politiken, charged the current government with failing to create the proper framework of a policy for Copenhagen.

This was an opinion piece by three leading politicians from the city council …. Franciska Rosenkilde, Chair of Culture and Leisure; Sisse Marie Welling, Chair of the Health and Care Committee and Karina Vestergaard Madsen, acting Chair of the Technical and Environment Committee.

The government published a report for the capital region in January this year but this article is critical - suggesting that the report failed to address the biggest challenges Copenhagen faces and they make six demands for specific policies to "create a more sustainable Copenhagen with proper welfare."  

 
  1. They want a new government to remove the economic straightjacket with an appeal for an increase in funding for the provision of social services and increases in funding for cultural and recreational facilities.

  2. They suggest road pricing and the establishment of green zones are introduced to tackle rising levels of traffic pollution.

  3. The proportion of social housing should be increased by implementing a target for 25% subsidised housing throughout the city and the government should initiate policies to reduce the number of empty properties in the city calculated to be 3,000 homes

  4. A new government should legalise the use of cannabis. The argument here is that it would tackle a serious problem because gangs control the current cannabis supply that increases crime and, in the worst situations, has seen a rise in the use of guns on the streets that are used to settle disputes or establish control of the trade.

  5. They suggest a reorganisation of employment legislation

  6. They call for moves to "Stop Blackstone" … a foreign equity fund that has invested heavily in the Copenhagen housing market.


 
 

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

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?

 
 

KADK graduates and UN Sustainable Development Goals

 

Shown in this outdoor exhibition are seventeen innovative study programmes or research projects by graduate students from the Royal Academy Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation and each represent one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Rigsdagsgården - the courtyard immediately in front of the parliament building in Copenhagen - is an amazing public space that is easily accessible for everyone and has a regular series of open-air exhibitions but, more important, given the subject of this exhibition, it brings these problems - and the urgent need to find potential solutions - right to the doorstep of national politicians.

These are innovative and imaginative projects that show architectural, design-led or conservation solutions to major global problems but all are based on established design principles and the use of existing technology or of technology being developed now.

This is the best of Danish architecture and design that can and should be harnessed to tackle serious problems that have to be resolved now.

Solutions shown here are a response to huge range of serious questions including questions about:

  • how we can reclaim methane gas from melting permafrost as a source of green energy

  • how to use sustainable materials to design textiles and make them a preferred choice

  • how we create healthcare solutions for elderly citizens that involve people and maintain their dignity

  • that developing traditional handicrafts can be a starting point for women to start a local business

  • how novel solutions can ensure that people everywhere have access to clean water

  • design solutions can tackle the problem of over production of food or food waste and encourage people to share food resources to combat hunger

  • the design of lighting in the class room can be used to reduce noise levels and encourage calm and concentration in schools

  • research can find a way to use the waste from fish farms to fuel biogas energy

  • major architectural projects - changing the use of large but now redundant buildings - can reduce inequalities by enabling everyone in a community to participate

  • hemp can be an alternative to cotton because cultivation requires less water and less fertilisers

Each project is shown across two large panels for maximum impact but are repeated - two or more projects to a panel - on the side of the exhibition towards the pavement - where the text is in English.

There are important statements here from Jakob Brandtberg Knudsen, Director of the School of Architecture; Mathilde Aggebo, Director of the Design School; Rikke Bjarnhof, Director of the School of Conservation and Lene Dammand Lund, Rector of KADK. 

 

Det Kongelige Danske Kunstakademis Skoler for Arkitektur, Design og Konservering
The Royal Danish Academy Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation

the exhibition of graduate projects from KADK in Rigsdagsgården
the courtyard in front of the parliament building in Copenhagen
continues until 30 June 2019

 

select any image to open in a slide show

 

Sustainable Chairs at Designmuseum Danmark

At the end of last year, the Nordic Council of Ministers held an open competition for the design of sustainable chairs with one winner chosen from each of the Nordic countries.

Judges considered the sourcing of materials; the energy required in production and distribution; consideration of disposal at the end of the life of the chair and general compliance with the United Nations 17 goals for sustainability.

At the beginning of December, winning designs were shown in the Nordic Pavilion at COP 24 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Katowice in Poland.

The overall winner was the Danish entry - The Coastal Chair by Nikolaj Thrane Carlsen.

This competition was organised in partnership with the Nordic national design associations - Danish Design Center, Svensk Form, DOGA in Norway, Ornamo in Finland and The Icelandic Design Centre.

the chairs will be shown in the entrance area of
the design museum in Copenhagen
until 26 May 2019

Designmuseum Danmark


 

Petite
David Ericsson
Sweden

beech
components reduced to use less materials and light - just 2.5 kilo

 

 

Tangform
Nikolaj Thrane Carlsen
Denmark

shell eelgrass and carrageenan extracted from red algae
frame recycled from bamboo floorboards

 

 
 

Håg Capisco
Peter Opsvik
Norway

recycled plastic from household waste
no glue or harmful chemicals
durable, easy to disassemble and repairable
manufactured by HÅG/Flokk


 

Kollhrif
Sölvi Kristjánsson
Iceland

cork and aluminium recycled from 14,400 tea lights
manufactured by Málmsteypan Hella and Portland

 

 
 

Clash 331
Samuli Naamanka
Finland

aspen and birch
thicker at the part of the seat where the legs are glued so subframe not necessary
durable
manufactured by naamanka

The Danish Design Center has posted photographs and information about the ten designs in the finals in each country:
Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden

DESIGN X CHANGE at Designmuseum Danmark

DESIGN X CHANGE, at Designmuseum Danmark today, is a major and popular annual event that is part of the Danish Design Festival.

There were demonstrations and displays in Grønnegården - the great courtyard at the centre of the museum - and lectures in the upper hall and all around the theme of sustainability in design.

DESIGN X CHANGE continue at Designmuseum Danmark tomorrow - Sunday 5 May 10.00-17.00

for information about companies and organisations taking part and for details about lectures see DESIGN X CHANGE

 

the Biennale - no straw shortener

uden stråforkter / no straw shortener - are two works by the designer and visual artist Christina Christensen. One work is with rye from fields near Odder, and the other with reeds from Kysing Beach, and both with cotton, linen and brass.

 
 

connections:

Through their work, many of the artists who exhibited at the biennale communicate complex ideas or raise important issues about our lives … both in our immediate communities but also, more generally, about how we respond to and how we do or how we should appreciate and respect our broader natural environment.

These woven panels raise interesting issues about both how we see and use natural materials and about the impact on nature of human intervention.

Over recent decades research by plant breeders has lead to the development short-stemmed grain crops - to reduce damage from wind or rain, and to increases yields - but, as a consequence, secondary uses for the product from taller varieties are lost.

Until the second half of the 20th century, corn was not simply harvested for the nutritional value of the seed but the long stalks were a sustainable raw material.

Straw (and in many areas reed) was used for thatch where stone slates or fired clay tiles were not available locally or were too expensive for ordinary buildings.

Now, we worry about air miles or about the cost and effect of shipping food, fashion clothing and goods round the globe but I'm curious to know how many people think about where the materials for the construction of their home come from and the environmental impact of those materials at the source, at the factory, and from the transport of the materials.

Generally, in the past - so before the twentieth century - transport of building materials was difficult and expensive. If you were wealthy then you could buy a fashionable fireplace or elaborate panelling from the nearest city or import an exotic wood like mahogany for a staircase to be made by a local craftsman, but for ordinary people, building an ordinary house, materials, generally, came from the local area - often from no more than five miles away - unless you were by the coast or on a river, or, from the 19th century, by a canal or then a railway, when transport costs were less prohibitive.

So, it is fantastic to see the architect Dorte Mandrup using thatch for not only the roof but also for the external cladding of the walls for the new Wadden Sea interpretation centre at Ribe on the west coast of Jutland.

But straw and reed were not just used for building but were also used to make mats or to make furniture - in areas, where good timber was not available - and for making household goods and toys - but how many people now have things in their homes made from straw or reed?

I had a set of table mats that lasted for nearly 20 years before they finally disintegrated and I have a few traditional Dutch Christmas decorations - small birds and stars - that are woven in straw, and every year, for more than 30 years, they come out of the cupboard to be hung on the tree … good and sustainable examples of rural crafts that have much more meaning than tinsel and baubles.

For more than 20 years I measured and recorded and assessed historic buildings of all periods and a good number were thatched. My job was to measure, record and date the timber-work of the roof structure but I have to admit that I rarely thought about the thatch … more than just to note the material and any pattern on the ridge or eaves that reflected the traditions of that area.

Looking at the work by Christina Christensen, reminded me when I first thought about long straw. I had been asked by BBC radio to collaborate on a programme about a thatched building in Oxfordshire and was there to talk about the date of the roof timbers - the form and techniques of construction suggested it dated from the 14th century and that had been confirmed by dendrochronology - but the main contribution to the programme was from a plant archaeologist.

What was so important about that particular roof was that it had never been stripped back for the thatch to be replaced completely. For over 600 years it had simply been patched and repaired with new layers over the old core of straw thatch. Not just exposed roof timbers but also the underside of the thatch itself were blackened with soot from the original open hearth that had been at the centre of the house until the 16th century when a new fireplace with a closed-in chimney was built.

From within the roof space, huddled in cramped space above modern ceilings, with me and the radio interviewer, the archaeologist drew out straws that were not far off 2 metres long and some still had their seed heads. From these he was able to identify the specific types of corn grown in the area in the middle ages - types of corn that were often specific to a relatively small area and certainly no longer grown - and identifying them was important for understanding medieval farming but also important for studies on bio diversity.

update - udlejningsløbehjul

With the recent fine weather these things are everywhere around the city and not just ridden everywhere but abandoned everywhere.

They appeared first in the late Autumn but there are now three companies renting out these scooters.

Initially there was some debate about scooters being legal on the public road - they appeared in October - were banned three days later and then given permission. Then there were questions about the possible dangers of relatively fast scooters mixing with bikes on the cycle lanes and pedestrians on footpaths and, more recently, complaints about scooters blocking footpaths when they are left at the end of the hire.

Now, in one national paper, comes a more interesting controversy. The scooters are promoted as not just enabling people to get around easily and quickly and independently but that, powered by batteries, they are ecological - good for the environment - if you assume that someone abandons a car journey and goes by scooter ….… before abandoning the scooter.

The problem seems to be that the scooters, or at least the first ones, were designed for use indoors and were for personal use so presumably that means not built for continuous or frequent use and not designed for, shall we say, robust use, rented out.

The average life for one of these scooters is said to be between 60 and 90 days so, when taking into account manufacturing costs, materials and energy and so on, then that is hardly a sustainable 'wheel' print.

But, to be fair, much of the problem is with the user rather than the scooter.

Properly regulated and used sensibly these could provide one solution for getting from metro and suburban train hubs into or around the city and they do actually take up less space than a bike when parked properly. It will be interesting to see how this works out but at the moment it is looking more and more likely that the politicians will act first and bring in a ban.

earlier post nice parking

Udlejningsløbehjul? That's the Danish word for rental scooters

 

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

My Perfect City 2 - The smart city: Seoul

 

Last week I posted about an interesting new radio programme on BBC World Service that is looking at which features of our cities now might together make a perfect city for the future.

The second programme was broadcast today and examined how cities use smart data looked specifically at Seoul in South Korea.

Interesting ideas were discussed but the overriding message must surely be that citizens right now should be discussing what data should be collected, how it should be used and who has access to that data.

Passively waiting to see what governments or global companies do and then complaining is not the best approach.

BBC World Service, My Perfect City, episode 2, The smart city: Seoul

for the post here on the first episode see The green city: San Francisco with a link to that programme

nice parking

 

This Spring, in Copenhagen, the new trend for fast transport to get around the city are battery-powered scooters. A couple of companies are providing the scooters that are hired through phone apps of course.

There are two obvious problems that have to be sorted out. First, although many scooter riders stick to the bike lanes, many do not, and if the rider tries boarding tricks of popping up onto the pavement and off or weaving in and out of pedestrians then these things get up quite a speed and accidents are inevitable.

The second problem - and already the cause of heated debate in the newspapers - is that the scooters, even when neatly parked, can be left and are left anywhere so can and do block footpaths. They are also just abandoned - as I spotted here last weekend - and this was not some disgruntled pedestrian moving a scooter out of the way - but a pond well away from the footpath.

OK. Call me old and grumpy.

Perfect City

I hate to admit this, and it really does seem like a cliché, but, as a Brit abroad, when I can't sleep, I listen to BBC World Service. That's how, in the early hours, I caught a trailer for "My Perfect City" and then tuned in later to listen to the first in this new series that started today 3 March and will run for six programmes.

The idea is interesting … if you look at cities that seem to offer solutions to what are world-wide problem of managing rapid and, apparently, inevitable urban growth and, even if few of these cities are perfect, some ideas and some policies in some cities can stimulate a discussion about what a composite city - what a perfect city - might be like.

The first programme looked at The green city: San Francisco, USA.

Fronted by Fi Glover and with Dr Ellie Cosgrave and Greg Clark as the experts, the first part of the programme was very positive - about the success of the transit system in the city and the ways the city deals with waste … including the example of Bi-Rite food markets where they have a kitchen at the heart of the food market that uses deformed or damaged food or food close to a sell-by date that would otherwise go into the waste system.

San Francisco has a population of 885,000 - so in a good position to be a role-model for medium-size cities - and, of course, that is fairly close to the population of Copenhagen so there are interesting parallels and obvious differences. One comment was that San Francisco is a city that "loves to rehearse the future" - but then the programme got more sharply critical and, therefore, much more interesting.

It was pointed out that San Francisco is city with a population where a high proportion of its citizens have a high disposable income and it is an "enclave of liberalism" … in the order of these things neither necessarily bad problems, of course, but as a role model it is difficult to apply its solutions to cities with high levels of poverty.

So the programme looked just down the Bay - to Bay View and Hunters Point - with serious levels of poverty and high levels of pollution from toxic waste from former heavy industry including shipping docks.

Then, two very strong points were made … first that, in economic terms, sustainable urban development is linked or constrained or even shackled to or by the drive for infinite economic growth but also,  government policies and national economic policies might not be aligned or might even be in conflict with the hopes and aspirations of a city - even a large city - when it comes to green policies.

Next in the series will be a programme looking at The Smart City and that will focus on Seoul.

BBC World Service - My Perfect City

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.

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

Sustainable Cities

 

“This exhibition has been created by a group of young crusaders who are passionate about making society better. It is the result of a collaboration with Roskilde Festival, which every year builds a temporary city with its own unique brand of broad-mindedness, tolerance and acceptance. Here, young people can get involved, party and celebrate their freedom. This exhibition is a product of the spirit: They have been invited to speak out - to share their ideas for our common future.”

 

Sustainable Cities
continues at Danish Architecture Centre In Copenhagen
until 2 June 2019

 

Copenhagen: Solutions for Sustainable cities - a report from Arup


This report from the engineering consultants ARUP sets out many of the important principles that now guide planning policies for the city of Copenhagen.

It has a short introduction by Frank Jensen - the major of Copenhagen - where he writes about the efficient use of limited resources and concludes that "It was thought that environmentally friendly development would limit economic growth. However, quite the reverse turns out to be true. Green growth can, indeed, boost economic development and the quality of life .… the business of introducing sustainability into the city poses very different issues than affecting it in the country as a whole … and require city specific solutions."

The report sets out the problems and some of the solutions that the city has adopted - often through the use of innovative technology - and the achievements, in terms of environmental gains, along with lessons to be learnt.

There are good, clear graphics, a lot of information and interesting details about projects under eight main sections.

Headings for those sections of the report give a good indication of priorities for the city, in terms of sustainability, both now and for the future ….

THE HARBOUR TURNS BLUE
MEETING THE RISING DEMAND FOR WATER
CYCLING: THE FAST WAY FORWARD
TRANSPORT: THE GREEN LIGHT
MAKING THE MOST OF WASTE
THE FORCE OF PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR WIND POWER
KEEPING THE CITY WARM EFFICIENTLY
KEEPING COOL UNDER CO2 PRESSURE 


ARUP - Copenhagen: Solutions for Sustainable cities

ARUP publications

 

just a few of the facts:

  • 22% of Denmark's total electrical consumption is produced from wind turbines … the highest proportion in the World

  • there are 42 kilometres of Greenways through the city where cycling is prioritised

  • waste sent to landfill is now less than 5% of the amount dealt with in that way in 1988

  • the city heating system is one of the largest in the World and supplies 500,000 people with reliable and affordable heating

 
 

Growing Smart Cities in Denmark

This report from Arup Smart Cities was commissioned by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was published in 2016. It makes important points that should be considered alongside a recent report on updating the Finger Plan and a major report on an initiative for the development of the Copenhagen region. Planning for future urban growth has to factor in new technology and the role of smart data.

Growing Smart Cities gives a brief overview of the approach to digital and smart technologies in the Danish cities of Copenhagen, Aarhus, Vejle, and Albertslund and, for context, brief assessments of developments in smart technologies in other countries.

The report identifies a growing number of companies undertaking research and developing projects but one aim of this report is to find ways for these to be scaled up and to find ways to ensure that they are carried forward.

The approach is two-fold, looking first at growing smart Cities in Denmark - so at digital technology for urban improvement and mentions several times the word liveability - but, for obvious reasons, looks at the financial and investment potential of developing these new technologies in Denmark.

There is encouragement for education to address a potential shortage of people with appropriate digital skills with a need to teach a new generation of students who will be qualified when research departments scale up projects - to take them forward - and to work with business who now have to assess long-term returns from what is often considerable investment.

The conclusion is that "Denmark has an opportunity to become a world leader in smart cities."

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SolarVille

 

 

This is a research project by SPACE10 about democratising access to clean energy … exploring ways to bring energy to 1.1 billion people who have little or no access to electricity. Neighbourhood generation could get around high investment costs for centralised energy networks where there is little incentive to innovate.

This miniature neighbourhood in wood has been built to a scale of 1:50 as a working prototype to show how some households could generate their own renewable energy using solar panels and some households would purchase excess electricity directly from the producer using block chain to make a self-sufficient community.

The scheme would include power storage to provide energy at night - now more feasible with the rapid development of batteries - and Blockchain technology could regulate the system for the sale of electricity and payments by verifying and recording transactions.


The project was a collaboration between SPACE10, Blockchain Labs for Open Collaboration; WeMoveIdeas India and Blocktech with the model by Tempral and SachsNottveit.

 SolarVille can be seen at SPACE10 until 29 March
SolarVille
SPACE10 

 

SPACE10 have published a related online report
A Brighter Tomorrow


the harbour and the future of Nyholm

The Danish Navy maintain an important though reduced presence in Copenhagen - with the main naval bases for the country now in Frederikshaven and Korsør - but there are plans for much that is still here to be moved away from the city and recently there have been discussions to decide on the most appropriate use for the historic naval buildings on Nyholm.

This is an important part of the harbour and not simply because Nyholm is prominent on the east side of the entrance to the historic inner harbour but also because the island has an important and symbolic place in the history of the city. On the emplacement at the north end of the islands are guns for official salutes to mark royal and national occasions and the flag flown here has huge significance.

When the royal yacht returns to Copenhagen, it is moored immediately north of Nyholm.

There are important historic buildings here including two of the most extraordinary buildings in the city … the Mast Crane that is an amazing example of maritime engineering and the Hovedvagt or Main Guard House with a feature on the roof that looks like a giant chess piece. Both date from the middle of the 18th century and both are by the important architect Philip de Lange.

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photograph taken from the harbour ferry as it pulled in at the landing stage just below Skuespilhuset - the National Theatre.

Nyholm is the island between the Opera House and Refshaleøen and at the centre of this view is the distinct silhouette of the 17th-century Mast Crane

note:
the cormorants are on an artificial reef that was created in 2017 to encourage biodiversity in the harbour. The University of Aarhus has produced a report …

Restoration of Stone Reefs in Denmark

 

looking across to Nyholm from the south - from the canal to the east of the opera house

Spanteloftsbygningen looking across the canal from the south east

The Mast Crane from the south with the low but wide Drawing Building to its east

Søminegraven - the canal along the east side of Nyholm from the south

Hovedvagt - Main Guard House or ‘Under the Crown’ from the east designed by Philip de Lange

Workshops at the south-east corner of Nyholm built in the late 19th-century