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 - 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

 

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

 
 

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.

read more

 
 

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

Update - Lille Langebro

 

The four sections of the new cycle and pedestrian bridge have arrived from the Netherlands on a gigantic barge and are being lifted into place … the work started yesterday and it looks as if all the sections will be in place today.

These photographs show what will be the first fixed section from the city side as it was taken off the barge by a huge floating crane and swung across the harbour and lowered into place to be guided down by engineers on the quayside by BLOX and engineers in two small boats by the pier in the harbour. The sections in place, in the photographs, are the first section from the Amager side and the part that swings open on the the city side - general views are photographed here from Langebro.

The bridge will be completed by late summer and then the opening and closing of the swing sections will be controlled from the bridge house on the existing road bridge.

earlier post
earlier thought

 

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

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

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

 
 

Realdania - report on the architectural value of vulnerable neighbourhoods

By coincidence - in the middle of a series of posts about housing schemes that are classified as vulnerable with what are now defined by the Danish government as parallel communities - the most recent newsletter from Realdania to arrive in my inbox is about a new research project funded by them and to be undertaken by the Aarhus School of Architecture to map out and assess buildings in these vulnerable neighbourhoods. 

The report will include a valuation of the heritage and cultural value of these buildings and will be completed in May and then submitted to housing organisations and municipalities.

For readers who are not Danish and might not have heard of the them, Realdania is a major philanthropic association that was established in 2000 and is now involved at all levels with the built environment by undertaking research, providing subsidies and grants for restoration or improvement of historic buildings of all types or by supporting major new building projects. They have also acquired important historic buildings of all periods which Realdania have restored and given to public bodies or restored and then let to appropriate tenants but usually with some access for the public.

They now have a strong catalogue of publications and they send out the regular newsletter with information about their projects or about exhibitions where they are involved or with information about their new publications. Many of their assessments, and their technical reports and guides to historic buildings and monuments can be read on line.

Realdania - Vulnerable Neighbourhoods

publications from Realdania

 
 

Tingbjerg housing

Tingbjerg housing scheme was designed by the Danish teacher, writer and architect Steen Eiler Rasmussen and the landscape was designed by C Th Sørensen.

Building work started in 1956 and was completed in 1971 and by then there were 3,000 homes here with most in apartments in blocks that are three storeys high - over half basements containing service rooms - although there is also one tower block and a line of single-storey homes along the west edge of the scheme.

Tingbjerg is out to the north west of the city centre, on relatively high land, close to the moor and lakes of Utterslev, and around 7 kilometres from the city hall. It was planned as a small, self-contained town with shops, a school and a church and at one stage 10,000 people lived here although the number is now below 7,000.

There are long rows of apartments that are set in a regular grid of roads with a main peripheral road and one main cross street running east to west although most of the apartment blocks are set north to south so that they make the most of morning and evening light.

Buildings are laid out around generous squares and large open spaces with a good planting of trees that are now mature and there are a number of areas where children can play. There is also access to what is still and certainly what was in the 1950s areas of open countryside and the high elevation, or at least high for Copenhagen, means that there are views back over the city. Even today, the light seems clearer and the air fresher up here than down in the city and, back in the 1950s, that contrast must have been more marked when there was much more air pollution. Families moving here then must have been positive about being able to move out to a new home in a new suburb.

The site slopes and the rows of apartments are staggered - rather than being in long straight unbroken lines - and the topography has been exploited with terraces and short flights of steps at changes of level that again softens and breaks up the impact of building even though so many homes were built in a single phase and in what is, in essence, a single style.

Constructed in light-coloured brick with dark roofs, workmanship is of a high quality and the design of the buildings is simple but not stark so the style is clean and actually quite elegant. A distinct feature is slatted shutters that slide back from the windows on some buildings. Tingbjerg is a good example of classic Danish design at its best. This was recognised in 1959 when the first phase of the scheme received the Bygningspræmiering / Building Award for New Residential Property.

  

note:

Given the high quality of the design and the construction of the scheme, it is ironic that in the recent government report - Ét Danmark uden parallelsamfund / One Denmark without a parallel society - Tingbjerg is now designated as one of 16 ghettoes in Denmark where serious social problems have been identified and there is now funding with recommendations for intervention.

These photographs were taken in January 2019.

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."

read more

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.

 
 

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

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.

read more

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

 

Tredje Natur - Bright Blue Visions

 

Tracking back a reference to the work by Tredje Natur on climate paving I came across Bright Blue Visions - an article they posted in 2013 with proposals for development of the harbour with new islands for sport and for a nature reserve for nesting birds as well as a park adjoining the Opera House that could be used for outdoor performances and a centre in the basin at Kroyers Plads to promote Danish advances in water technology. Their important argument was that the harbour is a common resource.

My main reservation is that, although the harbour is a major resource and there has been a long tradition of the city claiming new land from the sea, the harbour is also a phenomenal asset as a major and impressive open space where sports and events and recreational boating and swimming can all be staged but without substantial and long-term structures.

As with the new bridges over the harbour, what is undermined is the sense of space - a threatened asset in any city - and a feeling that the harbour - after all still open to the sea - could become domesticated or tamed and contained and divided up - so little more than a larger version of the lakes across the north side of the inner city.

Tredje Natur

Lynetteholmen - a new island across the harbour

Included by ministers in the launch in January of their 52 point Capital Initiative was a major project for a large, new island to be constructed across the entrance to the harbour. Work could start in 2035.

Under a heading Room for Everyone it was, in fact, the first point of the 52 - but already the proposal seems to have generated a fair amount of criticism.

The island, to be called Lynetteholmen, could have housing for at least 35,000 people and eventually work for as many and would include coastal protection measures to stop surges of storm water entering the inner harbour but it would have a fundamental impact on the character of the inner harbour by closing off views out to the sound and would restrict the routes of access into the harbour for large and small vessels.

Although the new cruise ship terminal at Nordhavn is outside the proposed island, the drawing shows further quays for large ships on the seaward side of the new island so it is not clear if these would replace the present berths for cruise ships along Langelinie Kaj.

note:

Politiken published an article on the 3 March with comments from a workshops with architects and engineers and planners where it was suggested that the island, as shown in the drawing first presented by the Prime Minister in October, is too close to the Trekroner fortress and is too large with several critics suggesting that it should be broken down into a series of smaller islands. No further decisions can be made until tests of the sea bed are completed and until related projects are confirmed including the plan for a major road link across the east side of the city that would have to cross the harbour and the proposal for an extension of the metro through a tunnel between Refshaleøen and Nordhavn.

Lille Langebro

L1320924.jpg
 

Apparently the main sections for the new cycle and pedestrian bridge across the harbour will arrive in April. These have been manufactured in The Netherlands but delivery was delayed when a section was damaged beyond simple repair in an accident last summer as it was being loaded onto a barge to move it to Copenhagen.

The new bridge - Lille Langebro or Little Langebro Bridge - will cross from Langebrogadegade on the Christianshavn side of the harbour to Christians Brygge, immediately south of BLOX on the city side.

It makes every sense in terms of planning and will provide an important and safe new route for cyclists riding between Amager and the city which means that they will not, as now, have to go up and across the main bridge. On the city side there are traffic lights for crossing Christians Brygge and the bridge lines up with Vester Voldgade which runs up to the square in front of city hall and the new metro station there and should keep thousands of cyclists each day clear of HC Andersens Boulevard which is probably the road in the city with the heaviest road traffic so this is all good joined up planning.

But …..

But there is a part of me that regrets or do I mean mourns a further bit of chopping up the harbour … taming it …. domesticating it … making it look more and more like a river and less and less like one of the great and possibly the greatest ports of the Baltic.

This photograph was taken a few weeks ago and soon this view will be lost … or maybe I just mean different and maybe it’s simply indicating that I’ve lived in the city for long enough to be rattled by change.

earlier post on Lille Langebro

Communities Between the Walls

On 15 February a new exhibition opened in the gallery space on the staircase at the Danish Architecture Centre.

Communities Between the Walls is a counterpoint to the recent reports on social housing and ghettoes. Here are a number of major art projects that have been initiated in areas of deprived or poor housing in urban areas including the new library recently completed in the Tingbjerg housing scheme and the major projects in Gellerupparken in Aarhus.

 

continues at the Danish Architecture Centre until 1 June 2019