The year is moving through fast … the winter sauna is now set up and open at the harbour swimming pool at Islands Brygge.
In 2015, an exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre - The Rain is Coming - set out the repercussions for the city from major changes in climate.
One obvious problem, already experienced in the city, is that sudden and heavy rain storms overwhelm the drainage system, so streets are inundated with water, traffic is severely disrupted, property damaged and drains and sewers broken or polluted water surges out into the Sound.
Since that exhibition, several extensive drainage and landscape schemes have been completed to cope with these sudden rain storms and the most recent is in Heimdalsgade in the city district of Nørrebro where innovative climate tiles for paving have been installed.
Design work was by Tredje Natur … an architectural and design studio founded in 2012 by Flemming Rafn Thomsen and Ole Schrøder with offices nearby. They undertook extensive research and development for the project over three years that was supported by funds from Realdania and Markedsmodningsfondenover.
Their new system manages both surface water and rain water from the roofs of the buildings along the street by taking it down through holes in the paving slabs and into a series of vertical and horizontal pipes, below the pavement, that control and direct rain water either to temporary storage before it is released in a controlled way into the drains or it is diverted into areas of planting.
Plugs within the pipes can change the configuration but can also transmit data for water management … controlling flow or in winter detecting that pavements have been salted so water cannot be directed to irrigation. These schemes have to protect sewers and stop contaminated surface water polluting water in streams, lakes or the Sound.
These plugs can also be adapted as sockets that take street furniture such as signs, lights and plant boxes.
Work was undertaken to coincided with work to replace pipework for the area heating system so it minimised extra road works and disruption.
The new climate paving can be seen along Heimdalsgade for 50 metres from the end furthest from Tagensvej … so at the corner with Overskæringen, outside the café at Heimdalsgade 22. With a new area of planting taken out into the road, this has meant a new if narrow but shielded public space that has already been colonised with tables and chairs from the cafe.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art.
The entrance to the museum is through a 19th-century house - a private villa built in 1855 for Alexander Brun (1814-1893) that was set back on the east side of the coast road from Copenhagen to Helsingør - just north of Humlebæk - with extensive gardens looking out over the sound.
It is said that the new museum was called Louisiana - because all three of the wives of Alexander Brun were named Louise - and the name was kept when the villa was purchased in 1955 by Knud W Jensen - a businessman, writer and patron of the arts who founded the new museum.
New buildings were designed by Vilhelm Wohlert and Jørgen Bo with covered and glazed corridors that link three large, well-lit gallery spaces to the house and together form an arc around the north side of the main lawn.
Louisiana Museum of Modern Art opened in 1958.
the original house from the gardens (top)
plan of the house with the villa cross hatched and showing the low ranges of service buildings forming a forecourt
the first new buildings were a series of corridors stepping down gradually to follow a ridge between a lake or inlet to the west and the beach and sea to the east and retaining both the large lawn and mature trees
Vilhelm Wohlert and Jørgen Bo photographed in 1958 standing in front of a brick wall that formed the side of what was initially the library that faces away from the sea but is now the main area of the museum restaurant
the view out over the sound from the terrace of the museum restaurant (below) shows how important the landscape and the garden setting are for the museum
Recently, it was announced that Frederiksberg Allé is to be given special protection with a policy to retain its present character with controls on hard landscaping and planting but also to allow appropriate interventions to enhance the urban landscape.
The Allé is a fascinating street with a clear history and a wider importance - an international significance - as it represents a distinct and important phase of planning in the city.
It was laid out in 1704 and runs west from Vesterbro to the main entrance to the park and gardens of the royal palace of Frederiksberg. Maps from the 18th century show the road as a broad tree-lined avenue with open fields on either side but, even then, the circle or circus of Sankt Thomas Plads is obvious and there was a large open space at the west end, at the gates to the gardens of the palace.
The avenue is now famous for the double lines of lime trees that are pruned to a candelabra shape.
There is a wide central road with the double avenue of trees on each side, each with a broad pavement down the centre between the trees, and then secondary or service roads, outside the lines of trees, with wide pavements immediately in front of the buildings. From Sankt Thomas Plads to the gates into the palace gardens is just over a kilometre and the avenue from building front to building front is around 40 metres wide.
Does anyone know just how many park benches there are in Copenhagen? When was the first bench made with cast iron legs and wooden planks? Was there a Copenhagen iron bench foundry?
They get repainted at regular intervals so my guess is that someone in city hall knows how much green paint the city gets through every year.
My favourite benches are the circular benches that usually go around a tree and there is no pretence … these are there and these are designed for sitting a while to people watch.
As soon as the sun comes out, people in Copenhagen move outside and stake a claim to the streets. It doesn't have to be warm … just light. It's not that Danish homes are so awful that people can't stay in … just the opposite … but in Copenhagen there is plenty of evidence that this is not a modern idea. Historic paintings and drawings show citizens strolling along the pathways on top of the city defences or promenading on the squares … so walking and talking rather than actually going somewhere … and there is still a tradition to walk around the top of the embankments of the 17th-century fortress in the Spring or stroll along Langeliniekaj. It's said that the citizens only agreed to the construction of the Free Port - which blocked the walk along the foreshore - if the quay was constructed with open access for a Sunday afternoon stroll.
The use of the public space of the street can be much more active so there is play equipment for children on many squares and streets and permanent fitted exercise equipment for people out for a jog who want to do more than just run.
Of course tables are moved out onto the pavements outside cafes and there are benches everywhere … most painted the special colour used in the city called Copenhagen Green.
This is hardly unique but in Copenhagen you can see a clear reason why this use of public space became so important: Copenhagen was surrounded by substantial defensive ramparts that enclosed a relatively small area and until about 1870 there was little construction allowed outside the gates to keep sight lines open in case of attack or a siege. As the population grew so space was limited and even many of the courtyards had houses built in them so the only space available, for any sort of leisure, were the squares, streets or even the churchyards … even now the large graveyards around the city are a very popular and very pleasant place to stroll with family or friends.
Copenhagen is an amazing place to live for so many reasons but, if I had to cut the list right down to one, then it would be that for a densely built up city there is remarkably little vandalism ... people use and live in and own and share the public space so much more than in any city I have lived in before but, taking ownership of the street, people treat public space, their public space, with respect.
street life - some needing stamina - some needing less energy
The new line of the metro in Copenhagen will open in 2019. Much of the main engineering work on the surface has been completed and the high green hoardings that surrounded all the main sites are now coming down.
From the city hall square and the central railway station, the new line heading out to the west follows the line of Sønder Boulevard across the north side of the meat markets and on down to Enghave. The hoardings came down in the Spring and work started on new hard landscaping and planting new trees.
Immediately, people from the neighbourhood, from the densely built apartment blocks here, reclaimed the public space.
Sønder Boulevard was actually the line of the railway in the late 19th century as it curved in from the west from Roskilde to a railway station just south of the present main building and the line followed closely what was then the shore of the bay.
The railway line was moved first to come into the city further north cutting across the lakes and then it was moved again to its present alignment across the south side of the meat markets. As the shore line was pushed out further and further into the bay, with new land claimed from the sea for first a gas works and then for the meat market, the old line became a street, Sønder Boulevard, with apartment buildings on both sides. It is a wide street with grass down the centre but through the last century it was a main route for traffic coming into the city.
The traffic lanes on each side have been reduced in width and this is no longer a main route so the centre area has basketball courts, play equipment, seating areas and imaginative planting to create a linear park that from Halmtorvet at the city end to Enghavevej and then across that road on towards Carlsberg is not far short of 2 kilometres.
the Boulevard while the engineering works for the new metro line were in progress - the edge of the meat market is at the top right and the distinctive tower of the church on Dannesbrogsgade towards the bottom right
1 - At the city end of Sønder Boulevard the landscaping of the street starts with paving and an area of water at Halmtorvet with an open area of gravel used for markets and then curved areas of stone steps and seating ... the meat market is on the right
2 - the Boulevard has shops and cafes and where cross streets meet the Boulevard at an angle there are paved areas - triangular rather than square - with cafes with pavement seating
3 - cross streets are a meeting place
4 - even in April, because the hoardings had come down, people came out to sit in the sun - the sun was low but bright but not yet that warm ... the reason for the combination of coats and sun glasses ... looking towards the centre of the city with the tower of city hall in the distance
in the 1870s the railway line followed the shore with only gas works on land built out into the bay and that is where the meat market is now .....
the lakes, Tivoli and the line of Vesterbrogade are easily recognised reference points
In fact, the current work on Tåsinge Plads and Sankt Kjelds Plads are not the first projects to bring large areas of plants and greenery right into the centre of Østerbro - a densely built up area of large apartment buildings, offices and small businesses out to the north of the centre of the city.
If you look on Google Earth, you can see that most of the apartment buildings have large enclosed courtyards with gardens and many with play equipment for children but also if you look just north of Sankt Kjelds Plads - the large round-a-bout almost at the centre - then immediately to the west of Fitness World, the long rectangle of green along the east side of Abeløgade is not alongside the pavement but four floors up on the roof of a former garage. This is Østergro … a large garden for vegetables and flowers produced here by a local association.
They have a restaurant up here and they teach children and visitors about food production … too many city dwellers have little or no idea where their food comes from and what is involved in growing vegetables and herbs. There was never a suggestion that this could make the area self sufficient for food but it's a good start.
Sankt Kjelds Plads looking south from Æbeløgade and the view up Bryggervangen towards the Plads with the new areas for planting under construction in July 2018
new storm drains going in along the road edge (above)
drawing from SLA showing the extent of the scheme from Sankt Kjelds Plads and north and south along Bryggervangen (below)
Less than 100 metres from Tåsinge Plads is Sankt Kjelds Plads - a second phase of work for new drain systems with hard landscaping and appropriate planting to cope with the inundation of water from rain storms.
Here there is a large traffic intersection with Bryggervangen running through from north east to south west and three other roads - Nygårdsvej from the east, Æbeløgade from the north west and Sejrøgade from the south west - meeting at a large space that was until recently laid out as a large traffic round-a-bout.
A new scheme with holding tanks for rainwater, new storm drains and a series of water features and extensive planting have been designed by SLA.
New areas of paving and traffic calming with new marked bays to control car parking is well in hand.
It is not just the road intersection that will have new planting but the long diagonal run of Bryggervangen is part of the work and this will form a new green corridor from a small lake and open ground several blocks to the north at Kildevældssøen and continuing south towards the open space of Fælledparken.
A local store has a window covered with a huge illustration of the finished scheme.
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.
gravel area at the entrance to Fælled Park ... hoardings have been taken down but there is now a wire fence around the excavations and remaining equipment of the engineers for work to complete the new metro station here ... the park is to the left and Trianglen immediately to the right ... the post office building to the left was designed by Thorvald Jørgensen and completed in 1922 and Østre Power Station, on the far side of Øster Allé, was designed by Ludvig Fenger and Ludvig Clausen and built in 1902
The main engineering works for the new metro station at Trianglen are finished and the high hoardings around the site have been taken down so once more it’s possible to appreciate the size of the open space here at the south-east corner of Fælledparken / Fælled Park.
A local plan for this major work was adopted in 2011 and published in 2012 … one of 14 local plans drafted for the 14 new metro stations that are to be built in the city with the construction of the new metro line.
In the introduction to the report it was stressed that the "layout of the station space must be in interaction with neighbouring areas around Øster Allé and Fælledparken."
This was an important policy because the space, in front of the main entrance into the park, acts as an area of transition from the busy area of Trianglen itself to the open green space and the trees of the park but this area of gravel has also been used in the past as an open space for various events such as markets so no new buildings were proposed apart from the concrete steps down into the station and necessary vents and roof lights and these, along with spaces for parking for bikes, have been kept to the two outer sides along Blegdamsvej and Øster Allé and will be screened by being set within double lines of trees.
The steps down into the metro station fit rationally with the main directions from which people will approach the station or their main destinations as they leave … so steps at the corner, on the axis of the entrance to the park, are angled towards Trianglen; steps just inset from Blegdamsvej will be used by passengers heading to or coming from the Red Cross building, the Masonic Hall or, further on, the hospital and the east steps will serve people going to the post office or heading up Øster Allé towards the football stadium.
These outer edges of the space will have hard paving - traditional Copenhagen setts or cobbles - but the central area will be returned to a level gravel surface. The planting of trees reinforces the simple symmetry of the layout of the space but also acts as a visual barrier between the open gravel-covered space and the road traffic beyond.
Improvements are not restricted to the area immediately around the metro station for there will also be new planting of trees and changes to the hard landscaping at this south end of Øster Allé and along Blegdamsvej that, with planting and improved paving, is rapidly becoming one of the most attractive of the boulevards in the city.
photograph and drawing from Metroselskabet
At the corner of Blegdamsvej and Øster Allé is a large area of gravel that is triangular in shape — the site of a major new metro station - and set back, beyond the triangle, is the entrance to Fælledparken.
Established in 1908, the main feature here, on the central axis of the entrance, is a memorial … a large figure group in bronze raised on a high stone base that was installed in 1930 to commemorate the return to Denmark, in an international settlements following the First World War, of land in South Jutland that had been lost to Germany in a war of 1864.
Lettering on the stone base reads:
TIL MINDE OM SONDERJYLLANDS GENFORENING MED MODERLANDET 1920
In memory of South Jutand's reunification with mother country 1920
The main figure is a woman who is looking down at an adolescent girl who holds or, rather, she clings to her side, looking up but not at the woman so up and away into the distance at the sky or to the heavens. It is a powerful depiction of a mother embracing or drawing in a child for their protection.
The woman is wearing a loose, finely-pleated costume, that is clearly classical in style, with an outer garment or stola that she is lifting to cover the girl who is naked … nakedness, at least here, implying both innocence and vulnerability.
The sculptor was Axel Poulsen who nearly twenty years later repeated the image of mother and child - a woman holding a dead youth slumped across her lap - for the incredibly powerful stone sculpture for the Mindelund Park in Copenhagen that is a memorial garden for the dead of the Second World War.
As you enter Fælled park from Trianglen, just beyond the monument, there is an area of woodland on the right but as you are drawn forward - towards the light and open space of the park ahead - it would be easy to miss the Sensory Garden in the trees.
In dappled light, in glades among beautiful mature trees, the garden was designed by the landscape architect Helle Nebelong and was created in 1996 when Copenhagen was City of Culture.
With wide, gently-curving, gravel paths and low but distinct boundaries it is laid out to be an easy and a safe place for children to explore even if they have sight impairments or have mobility problems or use a wheelchair.
Plants are chosen for their distinct shapes and there are herbs for their smell or even their taste but the dense but low planting also shields the garden from the more noisy and boisterous park beyond to make the space feel somehow calm and protective.
The main features are a gravel-filled canal that runs through the centre of the garden with low bridges over it or stepping stones along it, and gives a distinct Japanese look, and there is a large maze with low walls of wooden posts - some with numbers or letters set near the top so you trace 1 to 9 and then track the alphabet as you follow the posts of the undulating palisade.
In the line of the planting around these features there are small, semi-enclosed spaces where children can discover a giant nose carved in smooth marble or a wooden sculpture like a giant chess piece but with a carved fish and lemons on the top or there are wind chimes or a seat under an arch and several larger features including a hexagonal temple with ornate carved posts supporting a tiled roof.
It's all very beautiful and the garden is a credit to a park and to a city when they can design and maintain a place that is so magical.
translation of the park sign:
Sansehaven is a small garden for children and their adults - a corner of Fælledparken with space for exploring surroundings, feeling nature and discovering all the senses.
6 Sixth Sense
A sense garden can be a substitute for nature when the real thing is far away or difficult to get to. Sansehaven was originally made for multi-handicapped children and young people who can enjoy small gardens with many impressions and experiences.
For the sake of children who are visually impaired or use a wheelchair, Sansehaven is therefore arranged with wide paths and clear edges of, among other things, cobblestone, which makes it easy to get around.
Sansehaven in Fælledparken is shaped like a maze with winding paths, and if you are curious, you will discover a garden full of surprises.
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.
It seems to have been a long, heavy grey and damp winter but the cherry blossom and the magnolia are now out and there have been a few days with blue skies so maybe the season has turned.
20 March 2018
This photo was taken today when walking back along the quayside at Islands Brygge on the east side of the harbour.
There had actually been snow in the morning and it had been cold enough to settle but at lunch time the cloud lifted and by mid afternoon the sun was out … low but surprisingly warm and people came out to make the most of it.
It’s been a grey and dull Spring where February and March in Copenhagen can be clear with blue skies … cold but bright. So far this year there have not be many opportunities to sit outside and people who live in Copenhagen do sit outside … they take ownership of the streets at every opportunity and the city and the planners know that and wherever possible provide seating … so here it's a long curved bench with a high back to keep off the wind and trap the sun.
This is far from being a new use for street space ... using public space for leisure or exercise or just for sitting to watch the World go by is basically the way people here have worked out to live in a tightly-packed urban space so there are paintings in the National Gallery from the 18th century that show the citizens of Copenhagen promenading on the ramparts or sauntering across the squares.
This area along the south part of the harbour - in front of a line of large apartment buildings from about 1900 - was busy commercial wharfs through the 1950s and 1960s but as the port facilities were moved out then the area was made into a very popular harbour-side park. Close to here is the harbour swimming area that is used all through the year - with a temporary sauna there in the winter - and the wide areas of grass on either side of this sitting area are used for sport, outdoor exhibitions and events.
SLA have published plans and drawings for the ski slope and the planting that are to be added in the final stages of the building works for Amager Bakke - the new incinerator and waste processing plant in Copenhagen designed by Bjarke Ingels. The plant is now up and running but still without the promised smoke rings.
View of the incinerator at night taken in December ... the ski run might not look that daunting in plan but that's not a bad angle. If you don't ski, there will be steps and a pathway for walking (or maybe that should be climbing) up to a cafe at the top which will have pretty amazing views over city and out over the Øresund.
I went back to Side by Side Outside - the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn Exhibition at the design museum - to take a few more photographs and I realised that several of the pieces had footprints on them and not the small footprints of children but large so adolescent or even adult prints … and not just on the low pieces but someone had clearly stepped on to on side of the bench and table by Frama and then up onto the table and down the other side.
Look at the work. These are beautifully and carefully made and OK this is a garden - which is actually no excuse - but it’s an enclosed courtyard garden within the museum. Each of those footprints had paid to come in … so these were people who, presumably, wanted to be in the design museum … so does paying for a ticket confer some sort of right to be thoughtless?
What was strange was that in some ways the opposite was also a problem. The design brief for the cabinetmakers had been to produce works that encouraged people to interact with the furniture and interact with each other through and around the works. But some visitors were curiously circumspect and several, when I tried to take a photograph of them, leapt up and looked guilty or asked me if I thought it was all right that they were sitting on something in the exhibition.
Watch the film that accompanies the exhibition and you begin to understand just how much thought and effort and how many hours went into the works shown here so, at the very least, walking over the works shows a phenomenal lack of respect. At times I just don't understand and at times I despair.
Tomorrow evening - the 13th October - it is Kultur Natten in Copenhagen.
Galleries, museums, government departments, theatres and organisations all over the city will be open - most through to midnight - with special events, demonstrations and teams of people on hand to explain what they do and why they do it.
You need a pass that costs just DKK 95 and that not only gets you in but includes train, metro and bus travel within the central area if you need transport.
Go to the program and plan your route around what you want to see … the one thing that is certain about the evening is that it is impossible to see everything
This was the first day of the Cabinetmakers’ Autumn exhibition at Designmuseum Danmark.
It was raining and cold and the leaves are turning but it didn’t matter. In fact it meant I had the garden of the museum to myself.
For me this annual exhibition - to show the work of the cabinetmakers - is always one of the best exhibitions of the year. It never fails to challenge or delight or make you look at a material or a form or a convention in a different or new way.
In a city where there is so much good architecture and so much great design, it is actually this exhibition that comes closest to summing up what this site is about - about looking at and taking photographs of and writing about those works where imagination; the ability to translate an idea into a working and feasible design; a command of the materials being used and the skill of the craftsman or the quality of manufacturing - all come together.
A full review to follow ASAP
Side by side outside continues at Designmuseum Danmark until 5 November 2017