Oslo Plads

Osterport Air.jpeg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

the DJ on the bridge

 

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

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

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

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

update - Sankt Kjelds Plads - climate change landscape

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

 

the same view in April 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

more images and map

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

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

 

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

brickwork

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

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

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

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

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

update - Gammel Strand

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

read more

 
 

Update - Karen Blixens Plads

 

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

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

earlier post

COBE

Dorotheavej apartments by BIG

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

Fællesskaber Mellem Murene / Communities Between the Walls

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

smart city data in action …..

 

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

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

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

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

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

Life Between Buildings


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

 

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

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

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

 
 

Israels Plads - Copenhagen's biggest urban carpet

Life Between Buildings 3

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

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

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

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

read more

 

Superkilen - a super wedge

Life Between Buildings 4

 

Copenhagen has a number of linear parks of which the largest and most ambitious is Superkilen in the district of Nørrebro just to the north of the city centre. The north section of the park forms a green wedge down from Tagensvej - a major road - and continues through to Nørrebrogade and then, across that main shopping street, the series of parks runs on to link with Nørrebroparken.

Superkilen or Super Wedge follows the route of an old railway that cut through the district which explains the long narrow site with much of it behind buildings. There is a mixture of architecture, including some good industrial buildings that have been adapted to new uses, and some apartment buildings look down on the space but, unlike a square or street, it is not enclosed or defined by building facades. 

In strict architectural terms, the shape of the park seems odd and irregular with space leaking out so the opposite of Skydebanehaven or Shooting Gallery Park in the city that is enclosed by housing so that it is almost like a secret garden or secret playground owned by the community.

However, at Superkilen, if space leaks out, that means that the opposite or reverse is true, so spaces run into the park to draw local people in to make it a strong and important part of everyday life in the neighbourhood.

 

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

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

images from the Light Festival in Copenhagen

 
  • the tower of Christiansborg from Frederiksholms Kanal

  • the beam of light from the tower of Nikolaj Kirke across the statue of Bishop Absalon

  • Go Boat on the Amager side of the harbour and Eternal Sundown by Mads Vegas at Bølgen, the Wave, at Kalvebod Brygge on the city side of the harbour

  • Pyramid Construction by NEXT Cph on the square in front of BLOX

  • Chromatic Fields by Jakob Kvist at Louis Poulsen - Kuglegårdsvej

the Light Festival continues at venues around the city
through to 24 February 2019
the official site has a map and details of related events

Copenhagen Light Festival

 

next lines for the metro in Copenhagen


construction work where the new metro line at Nordhavn emerges from underground and rises up to the new station at the start of the elevated section of track

the new station from Orientkaj

Even before the new inner-city circle line of the metro in Copenhagen has opened, there are ongoing discussions about the stage after the next stage - if you follow what I mean!

Construction work is progressing fast on the spur line of the metro that will go out to Nordhavn - the north harbour district - and, eventually, on out to the cruise ship terminals and, in the other direction, the south spur down to the south harbour - the Sydhavnslinjen - is also moving forward fast with the green boarding up around the site of the excavations for the new station at Enghave Brygge near the power station. That line will continue on to Ny Ellebjerg where it will link with the main suburban train lines and both these metro lines should open in 2025.

So, the next new section of metro, and still at the planning stage, could be an M6 line to form an arc across the top of the island of Amager. It would link the two original metro lines that head south down through Amager - so the M1 down to Ørestad and Vestamager through Islands Brygge and the M2 line down to the airport through Amagerbro - but will also continue west and through a tunnel to re-join the circle line and to the east, beyond a new station at Refshaleøen, the east end of the new line will also go under the harbour - either to form a link back to the new circle line at Østerport or to run north to Nordhavn.

Even more ambitious are proposals for a further new line out from the M6 - an M7 line - that could take the metro under the Øresund to Malmö in a new tunnel some 22 kilometres long to be excavated on a line north of the Øresund Bridge.

From Copenhagen central station to Malmö central station would then take about 23 minutes and the line could be finished and opened by 2035.

Obviously, this will be another amazing engineering project in the city but, more than that, such major infrastructure will influence how the city will work in the future - so which areas will prosper and change because of these new fast transport connections - and it will form the framework for major developments and major expansion of the city through to the middle of the century and on.

 

well-known Copenhagen landmark could be under threat.

The image of a girl on a bicycle on the gable of a building in Nørrebro was painted in 1993 by the Finnish artist Seppo Mattinen who was born in 1930.

Apparently the building is now owned by a relatively new housing association and they do not have the funds to restore or maintain the painting. Unfortunately, it has been vandalised several times so keeping the painting does mean quite a substantial and ongoing financial commitment. In a prominent location just before the lakes as you head into the city, it would certainly be missed by many if it cannot be kept.

update:

latest news is a proposal to take down the painting and move it to a new site

Gable art-6.jpg

snow in the city

 

We had fairly heavy snow today that settled and, on days like this, people tend to stay in so there is less traffic, certainly fewer bikes, and sounds are muffled.

It's a good time to take photographs of the city and not just because it makes a pretty picture.

If the cloud lifts, and the sun comes out in a clear sky, it's different because then the colours seem more intense and deeper with light reflected up off the snow but when snow is falling, colours are muted to greys and soft mauves and then what you see is a simplification of the solid blocks with strong lines and edges emerging and it is the underlying geometry of the streetscape that survives … the blocks and the mass of the city.

 
 

UN17 village overlooking Kalvebod Fælled

This view of Amager shows the area of Ørestad marked with a dotted white line and the plot for housing designed by Lendager at the south-west corner marked in orange and was produced simply to show the site and the context.

From the air - and, of course, on the ground - you can see how the proposed housing will be at a key point between the densely built up housing blocks of Ørestad and the open common of Kalvebod Fælled.

It also shows the extent of Ørestad for readers who have not been to Copenhagen or do not know this part of the city although, actually, the 8 building by Bjarke Ingels just to the east and also looking across the common is now a tourist attraction.

Copenhagen airport is obvious but what might not be so obvious is the odd small tongue in the sea in the centre of the east or right side. That is the end (or start) of the rail and motorway bridge linking Copenhagen and Malmö ... the road and rail links drop down into a tunnel between the shore and the bridge. The road and rail links run east west and straight through the centre of Ørestad which is why Ørestad City with a rail and metro interchange was planned as a major business centre.

At the centre, at the top of Amager, are the distinct lakes and 17th-century defences around Christianshavn and above that part of the historic centre of Copenhagen.

It is the first time I have produced a map of this part of the city for this blog and I realised that I have a slightly misplaced or distorted view of Ørestad. Over the last five years or so I have done the trip out to this part of the city at fairly regular intervals - partly because I like having a coffee in the lakeside restaurant in the 8 Building with a view out over the common - but mainly because I want to watch and to photograph the area as it develops. A standard trip is to get the metro out to the end of the line, have a coffee and then walk back to where I live in Christianshavn exploring and taking photos.

The metro emerges from its tunnel alongside the university area at the north end of Ørestad and then curves round past the distinctive blue cube of the Danish Radio concert hall before running the full length of Ørestad on an elevated concrete track.

The image I have is of a very large or rather a very long and densely built up development but flanked by the much older areas of small plots and gardens and individual houses to the east and open common land to the west and south. That much is true but somehow I had set in my mind that Ørestad was almost a sixth digit on the famous Copenhagen Finger Plan … even if that seems like a slightly perverse understanding of anatomy. But it's not a finger. The Fingers are much much larger, much longer and much more suburban in character, so a string of housing and centres for shopping and commerce and based along the lines of the suburban railway. I'm not sure how Ørestad fits in my mind map of the city now … maybe a name tag hung from the wrist.

Resource Rows, Ørestad Syd by Lendager

June 2018 - rapid progress

 

 

A major housing project in Ørestad by Lendager is moving fast towards completion.

This is housing around an enclosed courtyard on a plot about 250 metres south of the new Royal Arena

It is a wide site from east to west but relatively short north to south and there will be three-storey row houses along both long sides and taller blocks across the shorter east and west ends of the courtyard.

Drawings for the scheme show extensive planting in the courtyard with well-established trees and with climbers or plants on the walls of the courtyard and extensive gardens and green houses across the roof.

drawing by Lendager Group

But it seems, from walking around the site, that there could be a very real problems with shadow across the building and across the courtyard. This is not just a problem with this development but a significant problem across the district.

A masterplan for this part of Ørestad was produced by the Finnish company ARKKI in 1995 and although the specific form of key buildings - like the new Royal Arena and the recently completed school - have changed from the layout shown then, the arrangement of roads and building plots has survived. However, the housing and apartments as built, over the last year or so, appear to be much higher than originally planned with more floor levels - to increase housing density - so the buildings have a much longer and unbroken area of shadow and that is obviously much more of a problem at this time of year when the sun, although often bright and in a clear sky, is low in the sky.

Here, there are tall buildings immediately to the south with just a narrow road between the two developments but the higher blocks at the east and west ends of the Lendager building itself will also throw shadows across the courtyard from the early morning and the evening sun.

To be more positive, the really striking feature of the building will be the facing panels of recycled brickwork. These are not old bricks that have been salvaged and cleaned and re-laid but they have been cut in panels from buildings as they were demolished … in this case buildings on the Carlsberg site in Copenhagen.

Old lime mortars tends to crumble away as a building is demolished and individual bricks can be cleaned and reused but modern mortar is so tough that bricks are damaged or shatter if you try to salvage them individually.

This method of creating facing panels for new buildings has been shown by Lendager at exhibitions at the Danish Architecture Centre.

 

Resource Rows, Lendager Group

January 2019 - a much clearer idea of the final appearance with windows fitted and the strong black skyline but note the deep shadow across the south-facing row houses on a bright winter day early afternoon - general view taken from the south-west