Autumn is here

 

With Kulturnatten this Friday, it feels as if we are definitely into Autumn.

There are still a lot of tourists here but there is a marked change as outdoor tables at cafes and restaurants are packed away or blankets and heaters are brought out but, if you find a spot in the sun, then it’s still pleasant to sit outside for a morning coffee.

The leaves are beginning to change but it will be a week or perhaps more before the parks in the city and the forests out at Klampenborg and Charlottenlund take on their full Autumn colours.

For me, the light at this time of year shows the city at it’s best. There can often be clear bright, deep blue skies and, with the sun now lower in the sky, even in the middle of the day, the shadows are rich and heavy so architecture and sculpture around the city looks fantastic for photographs. Of course, evenings arrive earlier and earlier but in that transition from late afternoon to early evening the light over the water of the harbour and the lakes is amazing and even rain can mean striking dark grey skies.

 
 

Kulturnatten / The Night of Culture on Friday 11 October

Kulturnatten 2019.jpeg

Kulturnatten has been an annual event in the city for 26 years and is on the Friday at the start of the Autumn break for schools.

More than 250 museums, theatres, libraries, churches, government ministries, city institutions, including the city hall and the court houses, and parks open for the evening with special events, displays, lectures and tours to show what they do and why.

There is street food and often drinks and food in the venues themselves. Entrance is free with the culture pass - this year just 95 kroner for adults - and with that pass all public transport around the city is free.

With so many events and spread around the city - from Frederiksberg and through the historic centre and down to Amager - its sensible to look at the programme and plan a route around what you want to see. Nearly everything starts at 6pm and runs through to at least 10pm with many continuing on to midnight or later. It is a huge and popular evening for families and this really is Copenhagen at its best and most open and most friendly.

Kulturnatten PROGRAMME

 
 

The Renovation Prize 2019

It has just been announced that the winner of the Renovation Prize for 2019 is the Hotel Herman in Copenhagen - a major project with a former electricity transformer station in the centre of the city converted into a major hotel and restaurant.

The challenge was to retain the character of the original facade - with it’s distinct and tightly-spaced bronze slats - but bring light into a space that is hard pressed by tall buildings at the back and on both sides. Large entrance gates, concrete floors, walkways and staircases were all retained inside the building.

With 157 renovation projects from all over the country under consideration for the prize this year, six were shortlisted and, along with the Hermann Hotel, these included:

  • Postgården (the old post office building) in Købmagergade, Copenhagen

  • St. Kongensgade 53, Copenhagen

  • Sønderparken, Fredericia

  • Villa i Sydbyen, Silkeborg

  • GAME Streetmekka Viborg, Viborg

details of each of the shortlisted projects

 

update - Lille Langebro

Lille Langebro is almost complete with final work on the hard landscaping on the quay at at each side almost finished.

This is the new bridge for cyclists and pedestrians that will cross the harbour from Christians Brygge, from the quayside opposite the end of Vester Voldgade, to the Christianshavn side and lining up with Langebrogade.

Current traffic surveys suggest that there are around 40,000 cycle journeys a day across the main road bridge - an astounding number - and planners hope that at least 16,000 cyclists a day will change there route to the new bridge and also avoid the heavy and relatively fast road traffic along Hans Christian Andersens Boulevard.

The official opening is set for the Autumn but opening and closing of the new bridge is already controlled from the tower of the main bridge so presumably the wait is for safety tests.

There was a post on this site when the sections of the new bridge were lifted into place but Realdania have since posted a time lapse record of that work over two days when the four sections were delivered by barge from where they were manufactured in the Netherlands and were lifted into place by a giant crane.

post on Lille Langebro in September 2017

lifting the sections of the bridge into place April 2019

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.

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

 
 

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. 

 

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

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

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

 

a load of balls

 

There is an ongoing threat of terrorist attacks in cities around the World and in Copenhagen public spaces and pedestrian streets have been protected with different forms of barrier to keep out unauthorised vehicles. Across the entrance front of Christiansborg, the palace and the Danish parliament buildings in the centre of Copenhagen, a barrier of large, roughly-cut blocks of stone was a short-term solution to stop vehicles driving across the large public square.

Now, work on a permanent solution is almost finished.

At Slotsplads or Castle Square the large apron of cobbles in front of the castle with its equestrian statue of Frederik VII has been re-laid with new granite setts. There are now electric security barriers at entry points that drop down into the pavement to give official vehicles access and in a curve around the edge of the public space there is a sweep of very large stone balls - spheres in light grey granite 110 centimetres in diameter that are set close together.

It is not quite finished but recently temporary wire fences around the work site and plastic sheeting, that protected the stone spheres as work on laying the paving was completed, have all been removed.

Walking home the other evening just as it got dark was probably not the right time to take the best photograph but it does show one slightly odd thing: possibly because the fences have only just been removed or possibly because the spheres are actually set so close together but, for whatever reason, pedestrians do not seem to have reclaimed the space. Nobody was taking the short cut across the front of the building. Everybody was keeping to the edge of the square and keeping to the pavement outside the stone balls.

Steps across the front of the building in concrete have been rebuilt in the same pale granite and there are other changes that, although not dramatic, are important. Ornate, historic lamp standards will be moved back to the square but now to form a line straight across the façade and trees on the square that were felled for the work are not to be replanted where they were before but there will now be a line of 12 new trees on the far side of the road that runs across the front of the space between the square and the canal. With trees on the far side of the canal, this will create a new avenue flanking not a road but here a waterway and this will create a formal but natural edge to the public area. Parking bays for buses and coaches have been moved away so they intrude less.

Design work here is by GHB Landskabsarkitekter and there are interesting and important aspects to the new scheme. The work was extensive and features like felling the trees seems right now to be drastic but as soon as work equipment is moved away and people start reusing the space, it's likely that few will actually remember the earlier arrangement. Replacing the cobbles has changed the character of the space particularly as the previous pattern that radiated out from the entrance has been replaced with a regular and consistent arrangement of the granite setts making it perhaps starker but also more discrete and less in competition with the building to make the space grander and the high quality of the materials and the quality of the new work are also important as this respects and reinforces the significance of this major public and national space.

GHB Landskabsarkitekter

update on Karen Blixens Plads

from the east with the humanities library to the left

 

 

Back in June 2017 there was a post here on a scheme by the architectural studio COBE to re- landscape Karen Blixens Plads – the large public square on the southern campus of the university of Copenhagen.

Recently, walking through the university, there was a chance to take photographs of progress.

Now in place are the large sunken areas for new bikes stores for the thousands of bikes that thousands of students leave here every day and the main structures of artificial hills have risen over the bike stores so now hard landscaping is going in and then, presumably in the Spring, planting.

COBE

from the west entering the square from the metro

Recycle in Christianshavn

 

Two new recycle stations have been installed in Christianshavn on the quayside of the canal along Overgaden Neden Vandet. They take paper, plastic waste and metal in separate bins with your rubbish going in through clearly-labelled slots on the side away from the canal. These are sited to help people living in smaller and older apartment buildings nearby where there is not the space to have the large plastic recycling bins found in the courtyards of larger buildings.

Both are relatively tall and long but narrow and with rounded ends. One, nearly opposite Sofiegade, has metal cladding in a dull deep red and has an extended bench at one end, with an open circle cut out at the centre for a round table and the other, close to Bådsmandsstræde, is the same shape but is longer, with an additional bin to separate out paper and cardboard, and is covered with vertical strips of dark stained timber. It also has a bench at one end although here there is no table but, across the opposite end to the bench, this waste station has a curved cupboard with shelves inside that hold books for a book loan / book exchange scheme.

After depositing your rubbish, you can sit and watch what is going on along the canal or you can pick out a book to read. The only instruction for the books is a notice that suggests that it is a bit selfish to take away more than two books a day.

The waste stations are designed to take standard bins inside - both 660 litre and 240 litre bins - and the length can be shortened or extended to take fewer or more bins as appropriate for different sites.

These recycle stations along the canal are here for a trial period to assess how much they are used and to get the views of local people. They are certainly a good alternative to the large plastic recycle bins on streets nearby although one local woman, who saw me taking photographs, told me she thought the design was heavy and ugly. This seemed to be mainly because now, when she comes out of her apartment, she no longer has a clear view across the canal and down the street opposite and, I have to admit, it was a very nice view. Her own theory was that people in the planning department hated long open views down streets and wanted to close everything down into smaller spaces. Sort of the opposite to Haussmann?

Two design practices from Copenhagen - Platant and Krilove Architects - cooperated on the project.

Platant
Krilov Architects

 

Economist ranking of the most liveable cities in the World

jazz by the canal

family life

 

The Economist Intelligence Unit has just published their annual list of the most liveable cities in the World.

Out of 140 cities considered, Vienna was at the top - replacing Melbourne ranked at number one for the last seven years. Copenhagen was ranked 9th which, initially, might seem to be not that high until you realise that Vienna and Copenhagen are the only cities in Europe to get into the top ten with Paris at 19 and London 48. New York was at 57 on the list.

The cities were judged by a wide range of criteria including healthcare, culture, environment, education and infrastructure. 

The Economist Global Liveability Index 2018

Den Hvide Kødby / The White Meat City …. Local Plan Report 562

 

 

At the end of June a local plan - number 562 - was published by the city for Den Hvide Kødby /  the White Meat City district of Copenhagen. 

This is the west part of a large area of market buildings and slaughter houses that developed here from 1879 onwards when the meat market was moved from a site further north, closer to the lakes.

The market, sometimes referred to now as the Meat District, is west of the present central railway station and immediately south of a long open public space called Halmtorvet that continues on west into Sønder Boulevard and forms the north boundary of the site. 

Den Brune Kødby, the Brown Meat market, was the first part of the market to be built and is in brick. The buildings to its west - sometimes referred to as Den Grå Kødby or the Grey Market and included in this plan - were extensive additions to the market from around 1900 in grey or white brick and Den Hvide Kødby or White Meat City - primarily low and mainly flat-roofed buildings in concrete with white facades was a large addition to the meat market dating from the 1930s. 

In part because these are essentially industrial buildings but also because of the clean simple outlines with no decoration, then, in terms of style, this part of the market built in the 1930s is generally described as an important example of Functionalist architecture.

Note that the popular reference to the east part as the Brown Meat market only emerged after the construction of the additions of the 1930s - to distinguish the different parts the names refer to the colour of the buildings and not to the colour of the meat.

The area is owned by the city and this is certainly important for the long-term conservation of this area and for appropriate controls on detrimental development .

read more

the buildings out on Refshaleøen through a rose-tinted lens?

select any image to open the photos as a slide show

 

 

It's difficult. 

How do you preserve somewhere like this? Or at least keep some of the buildings and some of the features that make the place so interesting.

How can you keep the colours and textures of somewhere that only looks like this because it was abandoned and for twenty years has - for the most part - been left or had a series of people working out here without the money or the security of tenure to do much beyond patching and repairing. 

Of course there have been exceptions … a yacht yard has extensive workshops and the restaurant Amass is well established in a workshop building that was reconfigured by the architect Dorte Mandrup.

But even the land itself - the island - is hardly a long-term feature of the harbour with a long history. This land was all claimed from the sea in the late 19th century and until the mid 1990s this was the shipyard of Burmeister & Wain with a huge area of workshops and dry docks with buildings that had been added or adapted as necessary and as and when there was new work to be completed. The massive dry dock out the east - such a prominent feature of the works - was only constructed around 1960 so it only had a working life of around 30 years.

Maybe there is also something wrong about romanticising or fetishising the decay of industrial buildings when actually they are all that is left to mark the tough and dangerous working lives of thousands and thousands of men ..... it's sobering to read that the workshops where Amass have their restaurant and garden now was workshops where some of the men who were too old or had been injured at work could find less dangerous jobs in servicing and repairing machinery.

Small boat yards and engineering works colonised the space after the ship yard closed and that large hall has been used for events and for rock and pop concerts but Refshaleøen is now entering its next phase with the opening of new gallery space for Copenhagen Contemporary in workshops across the front of the music venue and in an area towards the harbour there is a new food market and there will be craft workshops and studios in some of the other buildings.

Even this next phase is short term - or relatively short term in the broader context of planning and future 'investment' in long-term development. This is valuable land just across the harbour from the city and much will depend on whether or not there is the motivation to build a new road tunnel to link Nordhavn and Refshaløen. 

If that happens then the whole character of the island will change.

Even now this is hardly what you would describe as marginal land but with or even without the tunnel this will not survive like this for much longer. The gallery has been told that they can stay for 10 years and some of the industrial buildings might survive to be given new uses but what merit will rusty steps and broken windows have then? What is the value of patina? What is the best rate of return on rust?

 

previous posts

Refshaleøen

Industrial buildings on Refshaleøen and Prøvestenen

Reffen / The Reef

 

Kultur Tårnet a year on

22 June 2018

 

Since 1620, there has been a bridge at the centre of Copenhagen harbour. Knippelsbro was constructed to link the old city to what was, in the 17th century, a new and prosperous settlement of Christianshavn that was being built on land claimed from the sea and - from a new south gate of the city - there was a way across and on to the island of Amager.

Over the centuries the bridge was rebuilt several times but these all crossed the harbour at the level of the quay so there was restricted headroom for boat traffic to pass through unless the bridge was opened. This became a problem in the early 20th century as the wharves and quays south of the bridge dealt with more and more goods so more and larger commercial shipping was coming through the harbour and as the number of people use the bridge to cross backwards and forwards increased with the building of large new apartments blocks along Islands Brygge and south of Christianshavn with new housing in Amagerbro and then in Sundby.

A new bridge - the present Knippelsbro - was constructed and opened in 1937 designed by Kaj Gottlob. This has a much higher deck level - with long ramps up on either side to take road traffic up and over the harbour and more shipping could pass through without opening the bridge - the current harbour ferries pass under the bridge without it having to open. There were two copper-clad towers - with that to the north for the main control room for opening and closing the centre span and a south tower contained sleeping accommodation for the bridge master and his men.

From the 1940s and through the 1950s and 1960s, the docks to the south of the bridge prospered with commercial quays extending down on both sides - so the bridge must have been manned throughout the day and the night - but with the decline and then the shutting of commercial wharves on the inner harbour, the number of times the bridge was opened each day declined and the south tower became redundant and was left empty and unused.

Lars Erik Lyndgaard Schmidt and Malthe Merrild saw the waste of abandoning such a prominent historic monument and came up with possible ways of using the building.

Last year, after several years of them putting considerable pressure on the city and after opening for a trial period to see if there was sufficient public interest … there was … and after extensive restoration work, the tower was opened to the public.

It is now an amazing viewing platform from where you can see up and down the harbour but more than that it's a very unusual venue for events; a very unusual place that can be hired for business meetings during the day and, despite the tight space, it's a venue for gastronomic events and concerts.

Today marks the first anniversary for Kultur Tårnet. Congratulations.

 

Kultur Tårnet

an addition to the Red Cross Headquarters in Copenhagen by COBE 

 

November 2016 - the main structure of the addition in concrete was in place and you could see how the new entrance would work but this was before the brickwork across the terrace had been laid so it was difficult to gain an overall impression

 

A trip out to Trianglen - to see the new Biomega shop - was the chance to have a look at the new entrance building for the Red Cross Headquarters not far away on Blegdamsvej.

Designed by the Copenhagen architectural practice COBE, models of the building were shown in the exhibition Our Urban Living Room at the Danish Architecture Centre at the end of 2016 and I had seen the work in progress several times through 2017 but this was the first time I had been to that part of the city since the work was completed.

A three-storey office building here dates from the 1950s and is on an unusual plot - very wide but quite shallow with the main road across the front but with the building set back from the pavement with open public space at the front and with the back of the building hard against the boundary of Fælledparken which is the largest and perhaps the most important public open space in the city … so there was no possibility to extend the building back.

The solution was to build a new range out across the front that fans out from the original entrance and with its highest point against the building but sloping or rather stepping down to the pavement. In a way it is like one quarter of a pyramid if it was cut down the corner angles.

This new structure leaves triangular courtyards or green areas to each side to let light into the original office windows on the existing frontage but also reconfigures these as more enclosed and private spaces with the new building shielding them from the street and the noise of passing traffic.

Rooms under the slope, with a large new foyer in the west part, are lit by full height windows at the back that look into these green areas and look towards the existing range. 

Perhaps a better way of thinking about this is not as a new addition across the front but as a scheme that retains all the original open and public space across the front but tips part of it up at an angle and slips new rooms and new facilities underneath. This idea is, of course, close to what COBE did at Israels Plads where there are triangles of steps across two angles of the square which provide elevated areas where people sit to enjoy the sun or sit to eat a snack from the nearby food halls or just sit to watch other people but here, at the Red Cross building, on a larger scale. It is hoped that at Blegdamsvej this stepped slope will become an equally popular public space.

The brick steps are broken by the entrance to the building that creates what is, in effect, a small entrance court … a device used by COBE at, for instance Forfatterhuset, to form an interim public space where people arriving and leaving can stand and talk … not actually on the public pavement but directly off it … so it's the idea of a transitional space from public to private and from outside to inside. Also, it clearly signals to someone new to the building where they should enter … so this is COBE’s modern version of a portico but more about circulation and drawing the visitor in rather than being more overtly about status.

COBE

May 2018