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

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

the rain is coming - Tåsinge Plads three years on

 

There was a post here about Tåsinge Plads back in 2015 along with a review of an exhibition called The Rains are Coming that was at the Danish Architecture Centre and was about how the city is dealing with climate change and the problems from sudden and torrential rain storms flooding streets and squares as drainage systems fail to cope.

Then, the main engineering work had been completed with new drains around the square to take surface water and water running off the roofs of the buildings and low holding tanks had been constructed. It seemed like time to go back to photograph the area now that the trees and shrubs are well established.

 

THE FIRST CLIMATE RESILIENT DISTRICT IN THE CITY
the pierced domes are drain covers for the deep and wide new drainage channels below
there are two sunken areas planted with appropriate water plants that are holding tanks for storm water to stop it overwhelming the drains and at the west end is a raised mound
bridges and passageways across the square are in Corten
paving drops down in shallow steps to channel surface water and excess water is taken down into holding tanks
rain from the side streets is contaminated by surface dirt and traffic pollution so is dealt with separately in 'swales' that replaced the street gutters with ditches and plants and with filters below

 

It is interesting to see how the square used by people living in nearby apartments.  On-street parking for cars has been either removed or rationalised - so in neighbouring streets cars park now on just one side, usually the side in the shade, and park front on to the kerb rather than parallel with the pavement.

On the square itself, the road along one side has been paved over and the local café has moved tables and chairs out onto the square. People were sunbathing on the new raised slopes of the hillock at the west end and one local lady was using a wood sculpture as a place to sit and read her newspaper in the shade on a hot day.

balconies being fitted earlier in the summer and the finished work with large new balconies to the apartments looking south and looking down onto the new landscaping of the square

 

The apartment building across the north side has new balconies fitted across the frontage so people can sit in the sun and look down on the square.

This has been a very dry and untypical summer so it was not possible to watch the rain umbrellas and the channels through the water gardens actually doing what they are supposed to do … that just means another visit sometime soon when it is raining hard.

The landscape and drainage solutions were designed by GHB Landskabsarkitekter.

Tårnlegepladsen / tower playground and Spejlhuset / Mirror House at Fælledparken

 

Play areas for children in the parks and squares in the city are amazing … with imaginative climbing frames, swings and slides and so on that take a huge range of forms and styles. 

Simply from an architecture view point, probably the best is the play area at the south corner of Fælledparken in Østerbro. As part of extensive improvements to the park in 2011 and 2012, the play area was completely redesigned by GHB Landskabarkitekter with the company PlayAlive. 

There are enclosed courts for ball games and a small skateboard area but the really distinctive feature here is play equipment that is modelled on the old towers and domes and spires of the city … so here you can find a version of the dome of the Marble Church, the Round Tower, the spire of the City Hall and the spire of Boursen, the 17th-century exchange down by the harbour.

It’s a great way to introduce even small children to the idea that good architecture can be fun … so the games can go further as a learning process if children begin to recognise and name buildings as they go around the city.

There was an existing park building here when work on the new play area was initiated - a long low building with a pitched roof for park and play equipment and toilets but it went through an absolutely astounding transformation with design work by the architectural practice MLRP. The long side walls and the roof were clad with heat-treated or smoke-blackened timber planks but it is the end walls that really fascinate children - and come to that adults - as the gables and also some of the doors on their inside faces were covered with polished steel that acts like a distorting mirror. 

Fun and stylish .... this is modern Danish design at its very best.

 

Fælledparken

Another play area in the park - Trafiklegepladsen / Traffic House - was also designed by MLRP as an area laid out with small-scale roads and junctions and road crossings and traffic lights where small children learn to ride their bikes before going out onto busy public roads.