a new park by the Opera 

The Opera designed by Henning Larsen was completed in 2005 and is the most prominent modern building along the harbour in Copenhagen. It’s at the centre of a wide rectangular island or, rather, on the central island of three islands side by side with narrow canals hard against either side of the opera building and crossed by narrow bridges out to the flanking islands.

In the original scheme, these flanking islands were destined to be developed with expensive apartment buildings but then along came the global recession and since then everything has been on hold. 

The island to the north, about 160 metres wide and 160 metres deep but cut into by a dock from the harbour frontage, has been covered with tarmac and is used for car parking although there is a fine gantry crane across the north side and a 19th-century brick pumping house. The island to the south, tapering slightly from the width of the opera house site at its north end down to 122 metres deep at the south end, has been left as a wide area of grass with relatively small trees planted as formal avenues but not competing with the scale of the opera house and barely masking its south or side frontage.

Krøyers Plads - a development of large and expensive apartments some 500 metres south of the opera house - also faces onto the harbour and was also built around an existing dock but the that scheme was mired in planning controversies and the original plan for tall tower blocks was modified and modified and modified until it is now a relatively acceptable pastiche of historic warehousing or at least reminiscent of historic warehouses in scale and silhouette. 

Papirøen or Paper Island - between Krøyers Plads and the opera - had low concrete warehouses built in the late 20th century - where paper for the city newspapers was stored so hence the name - has been cleared and work recently started on rebuilding the quay side and with major excavations for new buildings but apparently funding for the apartment blocks and a new harbour swimming pool here has slowed so completion dates have moved further away.

Clearly, now is not the right time to build expensive apartments on either side of the opera house so proposals for the area immediately south of the opera have changed. A large underground car park is to be constructed here and a park above it will be densely planted with trees. This scheme has been drawn up by the architecture and planning team of COBE who finally saw the Krøyers Plads buildings realised - although they were not involved in the original proposal - and they produced the initial planning proposals for Paper Island.

However, there seem still to be two problems.

Since it opened, the opera House has been relatively difficult to reach. Until two years ago, and first the completion of new foot bridges over the Christianshavn canals and then the opening of a new bike and foot bridge between Nyhavn and Christiansholm, it was a long walk up from Knipplesbro or an odd route by bus. And it was a longer drive by car around the outside of Christianshavn to come at the opera from the north through the buildings of Holmen - now part of the Royal Academy.

To be able to walk under cover from an underground car park against the side of the opera house, through a tunnel under the canal, and into the opera house at a lower level sounds convenient but I’m still not clear how you will drive there and unclear how it can be justified on ecological grounds where the trend in the city is to remove cars from the centre.

More important, in terms of architecture and planning, is that the opera house and anything on either side hides the four great naval warehouses built in line in the middle of the 18th century, and, with masting sheds and the great crane, these are one of the great and singular features of historic Copenhagen. The warehouses and mast sheds faced across an expanse of open water where the fleet anchored, to the royal palace on the west side of the harbour …….. until the islands were built in front of them and the opera house muscled in.

COBE - The Opera Park

Opera House.jpeg

Lynetteholmen - a new island across the harbour

Earlier in the year, initial drawings were published for a large new island that could be constructed across the entrance to Copenhagen harbour. It could be be called Lynetteholm after a small fort at the north end of the Christianshavn defences although more recently it has been the name of the sewage works off Refshaleøen.

There has been a lot of criticism … generally about the scale of the scheme and because the island will close off the views out from the harbour to the sea of the open sound. Specifically it was considered to be too close to the Trekroner Fort - a triangular outer defence that was built in 1713 … itself on an artificial island that was formed around three scuppered ships of which one was the Trekroner so hence the name of the fort.

That fort was rebuilt in the 1780s, in a slightly different position, but new building on a densely-developed new island will completely swamp the attractive and well-known silhouette of the ramparts and historic buildings of the fort.

The most recent plans show the new island further out in the sound to give the fortress more breathing space but, in the process of rethinking the development, the island has grown and where there had been wide channels on each side - between the new island and Nordhavn and between the new island and Amager - these may now be much narrower. The excuse is that this makes new storm-surge defences - to stop exceptional tidal water flooding into the inner harbour - cheaper to build and more effective.

The construction of the island will incorporate major engineering work for what is now considered to be crucial infrastructure for the city so work will include a major new road tunnel to bring traffic from the north under the harbour from Nordhavn to the east side of Amager and on down - to the airport and the bridge to Sweden - and the Metro could be extended from Nordhavn and the new terminal for cruise ships to, again, go under the entrance to the harbour and run down to connect to the existing line - presumably at the present metro station at Øresund - and run on again to the airport.

An early proposal suggested that the island would be primarily office buildings for new technologies - a Danish Silicon Valley - but more recent schemes seem to be for housing. 

In theory, the idea should not be controversial as the city has been building large new islands out into the sea since Christianshavn was laid out in the first decades of the 17th century. One criticism has been that the cost of constructing the island would mean that all the housing would have to be expensive - so exclusive - and that does not go down well in what is still a left-of-centre city politically although of course the main houses built along Strandgade in Christianshavn in the 17th century were large and impressive and occupied by some of the wealthiest merchants in the city who were, presumably, anxious to escape the tightly-packed and narrow houses where they had lived along what is now Gammel Strand.

The pressure on planners and the developers for the new island will, and quite rightly, come from ecological pressure groups. The open water of the sound is an important resource that should not be squandered but this could also be an opportunity to provide large new parks and foreshore with a careful balance between providing a resource for people in the city and providing new habitat to bring bring nature into the city through well planned and well planted green corridors.

the post on Lynetteholm in February

the most recent proposal


earlier drawings

Kähler at CHART Design Fair August 2019


The Kåhler pottery was founded by Joachim Christian Hermann Kähler in 1839 and this exhibition at Den Frie - for the CHART Design Fair - is in part to mark their 180th anniversary. 

Initially, Kähler produced stoves and cooking pots and kitchenwares. Two sons - Hermann A Kähler and his younger brother Carl Frederik Kähler - took over the factory in 1872. After a fire in 1875, a new factory was established and the company began producing finer ceramics, particularly vases, and began working with ceramic artists including H Brendekilde, L A Ring and Carl Lund and later Karl Hansen Reistrup and then Svend Hammershøi who became the artistic director of the company. 

Kähler experimented with shapes, glazes - particularly a hallmark deep red lustre - and with decorative techniques of painting by hand.

The exhibition here showed a range of their pieces through the history of the factory that show how, as a commercial company, they had to respond to changes of fashion but also, by employing well-established and talented artists, they could also set certain styles. 

Plaster casts for slip-pouring moulded, rather than thrown, pieces and sample strips of glaze colours gave some insight into the technical aspects of the high-quality ceramics.

In 1974 the factory was sold to Næstved municipality and then passed through a number of owners including Holmegaard but since 2018 has been part of the Rosendahl Group.


CHART 2019 - CHART Architecture

This evening CHART - the big annual art fair in the city - opened at Kunsthal Charlottenborg - the main venue for the fair in the centre of Copenhagen.

This was an opportunity to see CHART Architecture - five pavilions in the courtyards of the 17th-century palace that were designed by emerging architects from the Nordic region - the finalists selected by an international jury in an open competition earlier in the year. The winner will be announced on Saturday.

The theme set for the competition was materiality - to see how new materials or reused materials could inspire the designs - and the winning entries have been constructed with the designers working with the engineering consultants ARUP.

Through the weekend of the fair - on Friday 30 and Saturday 31 of August and on Sunday 1 September - the pavilions will be the food stalls and bars for the event.

CHART 2019 -
CHART Architecture
Kongens Nytorv 1,
1050 Copenhagen K

Josephine Rita Vain Hansen & Marie Louise Thorning

Air-filled latex cells form the cocktail bar from Thorn Gin


Christina Román Diaz & Frederik Bo Bojesen

Inspired by the mineral salt and made in timber with fish nets, salt crystals and clear polycarbonate frames with wine and oysters from Rouge Oysters


Anne Bea Høgh Mikkelsen, Katrine Kretzschmar Nielsen, Klara Lyshøj & Josefine Ostergaard Kallehave

A pavilion constructed from the frames, springs and fabric covers of Sultan beds from IKEA for beer from 1664 Blanc


Diana Smilijkovic, Jonas Bentzen, Gustav Kjær Vad Nielsen, Haris Hasanbegovic & Oskar Koliander

Recycled paper formed in CNC-cut moulds for Jah Izakaya Sake Bar

Andreas Körner & Mathias Bank Stigsen

Timber with latex polymer fabric for Green Burgers from Gasoline Grill


the jury for CHART Architecture competition 2019:

  • David Zahle, architect and partner at BIG

  • Lea Porsager, artist

  • Nikoline Dyrup Carlsen, architect and co-founder of Spacon & X

  • Pippo Ciorra, Senior Curator of Architecture at MAXXI Museum

  • Rosa Bertoli, Design Editor at Wallpaper* magazine

CHART Architecture 2019


the jury awarded first prize for CHART Architecture competition 2019 to
SULTAN by Anne Bea Høgh Mikkelsen, Katrine Kretzschmar Nielsen, Klara Lyshøj & Josefine Ostergaard Kallehave

Matters - Rethinking Materials at Designmuseum Danmark

A new exhibition for the forecourt of Designmuseum Danmark with the work of five young Nordic designers who have used by-products and rejected waste.

This is an initiative from CHART Curio curated by Line Ulrika Christiansen, Institute Head of Domus Academy Milan, with Pernille Stockmarr, curator at Designmuseum Danmark.

opened on 28 August 2019 and continues until 29 March 2020
at Designmuseum Danmark


Polarized Portraits - Site Specific
by the Swedish designer Kajsa Willner
polarized filters, disposable plastic and acrylic


Clock #02 
by the Norwegian designer Stian Korntved Ruud
metal wood and electronics


Inside Out 
by the Danish designer Kathrine Barbro Bendixen
cow intestines and LED lights


Unidentified objects
by the Norwegian-based Swedish artist Sarah Vajira Lindström
mixed materials


by the Finnish designer and cabinetmaker Antrei Hartikainen
wood and metal


World-class art between disasters

A major exhibition on Danish Art from the Golden Age has just opened at Statens Museum for Kunst - the Danish National Gallery in Copenhagen.

The intriguing title is a reference to major events in Denmark in the 19th-century with the period bookended by the bombardment of the city by the British Navy in September 1807 and the war with Germany that ended in 1864 with the loss of extensive Danish territory in Schleswig Holstein. Both were dramatic and traumatic events that forced the country to reassess it’s position in the World.

For arts in Denmark, this period is considered to be a Golden Age .

Danish Design Review rarely reviews exhibitions of paintings or sculpture but many of these artists recorded in considerable detail topographical scenes, interiors and social life that provide significant evidence for the development of design and architecture through the period.

Danish Golden Age - World-class art between disasters
continues at Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen
until 8 December 2019


citizens fleeing to Amager as Copenhagen is bombarded by the British navy in September 1807


Højbro Plads in Copenhagen 1844
by Sally Henriques (1815-1866)


detail of a painting of the square of the Marble Church in 1835
by Frederik Sødring (1809-1862)


street scene
by Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg (1783-1853)


CHART 2019


Walking through the courtyards of Charlottenborg at the end of the week, there was intense activity with work moving forward fast on the construction of the temporary pavilions that are now a main and very popular feature of CHART ART FAIR - the annual commercial art fair in Copenhagen - that will open at Kunsthal Charlottenborg on Friday 30 August and continue through to Sunday 1 September.

The five pavilions are winning designs from a completion at the beginning of the year that was open to postgraduate students or newly graduated architects, designers and artists working in the Nordic region.

As in 2019, commercial galleries for furniture and design and designers and design studios will show separately in CHART DESIGN FAIR at Den Frie - the gallery space close to the railway station at Østerport.

CHART 2019


Himmel & Hav - By & Havn at Nordhavn

On Saturday and Sunday, By & Havn opened their exhibition in The Silo about the development of Nordhavn - or the North Harbour as one of their contributions to Kulturhaven … the harbour culture festival.

There were models, plans, historic photographs and maps to show how the harbour has developed as more and more land has been claimed from the sea and docks and quays constructed.

A relatively new terminal for the ferry to Oslo and the large dock for cruise ships along with the last area of container dock survive but the oil terminal and most commercial docks have gone and the bonded warehouses converted to offices. Now, much of the land and large areas of newly claimed land that have been built up with spoil from digging the tunnels for the new metro are now streets and squares of large apartment developments.

One task of the exhibition is to show how the development of Nordhavn will be completed through the next stages as an extension of the metro is completed but it is also, in part, a way to show new sustainability goals and to show how this area has taken on board the latest ideas about contending with climate change so, for instance, water from cloud bursts is filtered and taken into the harbour rather than being allowed to overwhelm sewage systems.

By & Havn are the development body that is also overseeing planning and the extensive and ongoing construction work in Ørestad, on the Amager side of the south harbour, and the next stage of development around the power station on the city side of the south harbour and By & Havn will oversee and control the proposed development on new islands north of Refshaleøen.

The exhibition will be open to the public again next weekend - Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September and after that can be opened specifically for organised groups by arrangement.

By & Havn


Kulturhavn FESTIVAL

Just a few images from Saturday and Sunday to show the diversity of events.

Phenomenal numbers of people took advantage of fantastic weather to sunbathe and to swim in the two harbour swimming areas south of Langebro and there were so many at the swimming area at Nordhavn, with the advantage of facing south, that many seemed to opt for tanning by standing.

There was music and dancing and a huge range of activities from yoga lessons in the sun to being shown how to play petanque and at Islands Brygge the local historical society had an exhibition of historic photographs of the harbour in the old railway wagon on the quay to remind people that all this huge area was working docks.


Finders Keepers at Øksnehallen

select any photograph to open all in a Lightbox slide show

Today - Saturday 24 August - was the first of the two days of the design market at Øksnehallen - the old market hall in the Meat Packing District of Copenhagen that is just to the south and west of the central railway station.

Finders Keepers is a celebration of small independent design companies in Denmark and includes clothing, household textiles, leather goods as well as ceramics and glass and furniture. There are play areas for children and food stalls on the forecourt.

Finders Keepers continues tomorrow 25 August 2019
at Oksnehallen in the Meat Packing District of Copenhagen


Denmark's Next Classics


This is the last opportunity to see Denmark’s Next Classics at Designmuseum Danmark.

The exhibition shows the work of five designers who took part in a series on Danish television in the Spring that sought to find new designs that could become design classics in the coming years.

From each designer there is a dining chair, a dining table that can be extended, a pendant light, furniture for children, a sofa and a lænestol or arm chair.

With sketches and models for the designs and with audio-visual material - including clips and interviews from the programmes - Denmark’s Next Classics explores the process of design.

The designers are Janus Larsen, Isabel Ahm, Rasmus B Fex, Kasper Thorup and Rikke Frost.

Judges for the competition were Anne-Louise Sommer - professor of design and now director of Designmuseum Danmark - and the designer Kasper Salto.

Denmark’s Next Classics
at Designmuseum Danmark until 1 September 2019

the six programmes can still be viewed
on line through the DR site


Kulturhavn 2019

Kulturhavn Festival set out in 2001 with three main objectives:

  • To inspire and motivate the audience to engage more in culture and leisure-time by giving them the opportunity to try out new activities and enjoy some sneak previews from the cultural season that lies ahead

  • To familiarise the citizens with Copenhagen Harbour as an urban space, encouraging people, associations, cultural institutions and commercial activities to use and develop this blue urban space

  • To act as companion and a marketing platform for the city's associations and cultural institutions

This year there will be around 230 events and activities including music and theatre on the water; sport from yoga to a “floating water fight” and guided walks and exhibitions.

Kulturhavn Festival
23-25 August 2019. 


Finders Keepers at Øksnehallen

Finders Keepers - a major design fair - is back at Øksnehallen - the exhibition and events hall on the old meat market just to the west of the central railway station in Copenhagen.

Go out of the west end of the station and head for Halmtorvet - the old hay market at the city end of Sønder Boulevard - and the Meat Packing District is on your left.

The design fair will be on Saturday 24 August and Sunday 25 August from 11.00 through to 17.00


Finders Keepers at Øksnehallen in August last year

a new library for Nørrebro


At the beginning of August a new public library opened in the old tram sheds in Nørrebro.

The building is set back from Nørrebrogade with a large square at the front where trams originally turned into the sheds and the original high and narrow openings towards the road have been retained but with new doors that have stylised versions of giant book cases.

Inside, the single huge space of the shed has been retained with arched openings in the brickwork along the east side towards Bragesgade kept as a strong architectural feature and to flood the space with light. The industrial roof has been kept and is now painted black.

Fittings are in pale plywood and divide up the space and there are integral breaks in the shelving with desk spaces and benches that create quiet places to work but also form views through the space.

Across the west side of the library are smaller spaces on two levels with meeting rooms above for meetings and teaching that the community can use and, like all libraries in the city, there is a play area for children to encourage even the youngest to see the library as a fun place to visit.

Further back from the road is a second huge tram shed and that was converted some years ago to a sports hall - Nørrebrohallen - and there is now a large entrance area and large cafe between the two - between the library and the sports halls - as a place where people can meet.

Running back from the road and along the west side of the buildings is the famous city park - Superkilen - with its outdoor play and sports so this area is now a major hub for the community around. It is anticipated that visitor numbers to the library could soon exceed 1,000 a day.

select any image to open the set of photographs as a slide show

sport and space consultancy KEINGART have published a pdf file on line with plans of the library and cafe area


Copenhagen Gay Pride


This has been Copenhagen Gay Pride week with events all round the city with the highlight probably being the parade today with thousands taking part and huge crowds making it a major event.

The city has been decked out with rainbow flags and the colours of the rainbow on major buildings and for light shows..

update - Karen Blixens Plads

approaching the square from the metro station at Islands Brygge


Designed by the landscape and architecture studio COBE, the square is at the centre of the south campus of the University of Copenhagen and is one of the largest public spaces in the city.

The square, with work just completed and now open, is approached either from the north, from the metro station at Islands Brygge, or from the south from the direction of Amager Fælled.

The main area is paved with pale bricks and the main feature is shallow brick domes that cover part sunken areas for leaving bicycles but they also form areas fr sitting out and reduce what was a bleak and almost overwhelming space because of the size of the open area.

To the south the shallow circular mounds are repeated but heavily planted and with winding pathways between them that create more sheltered areas. Several sunken areas have wetland planting and control run off of rain water.

earlier post on Karen Blixens Plads from June 2017 when work began

approaching the square from the south - from Amager Fælled


Enghave Plads

Vesterbro - the part of the city immediately west of the central railway station - is a densely-occupied area of apartment buildings with most dating from around 1900.

This was a strongly working class part of the city with the main rail line forming the southern boundary and with the meat markets, gas works and the harbour presumably supplying much of the work and the Carlsberg brewery was, until a few years ago, to the west.

The street pattern of the district is complicated with two main roads - Istedgade and Sønder Boulevard - running out at an angle from the railway station at the north-east to the south east but with secondary cross streets of traditional apartment buildings running north to south and there are also several streets running across the area from south east to north west so it a complex pattern of a grid but overlaid with a Saint Andrew cross so some streets meet or cross at odd angles.

At the south end of Istedgade is Enghave Plads - a large open square much wider east to west than the distance across from north to south and it narrows at the centre. This square is where several tram routes met so it was always an important point in the area and immediately to the west is a very large square with a major public garden - Enghave Parken - that has large apartment buildings on the north, west and south sides so the two spaces run together though divided by a busy main road - Enghavevej.

Enghave Plads is the site of one of the major new metro stations on the new circle line that will open at the end of September. The east end of the square and some of the surrounding streets have been boarded off for about a decade with major construction work for the metro but the boarding has just been taken down and the space with it's new landscaping opened officially.

There are large areas for leaving bicycles across the north or darker side of the entrance steps to the metro station but across the south side of the metro entrance there are raised beds with Corten edging and long raised bench seats and then to the west more open space for events. This area has striking new seating that has deep red slats on a black metal frame and these form great bold curves though the initial reaction to the seating has been mixed - some asking exactly why people would want to sit next to each other in long rows even if they are curved. Mature trees to the west, along the main road, have been kept and provide a baffle against the sound of traffic and shade for more seating and an area that is fenced for ball games.

Copenhagen Metro

Vesterbro with the main railway line to the south, the MeatPacking district in the cirve of the railway and the main railway station top right
Enghave Plads just left of centre and Enghave Parken towards the left side

Enghave Plads from the east with the square of Enghave Parken beyond

tram leaving the square and heading along Istedgade towards the railway station … the area between the buildings and the central space has been paved over and the main through traffic has been restricted to the north side of the square


Løsninger - KADK Afgangsudstilling Design/Architectur/Konservering


There are just a few days left to see the exhibition of graduate projects from the schools of architecture, design and fashion at the Royal Academy.

Under the overall title Løsninger, Solutions, there are 235 projects from students who graduated this year.

They look at a huge range of topical design problems from the potential reuse of existing or abandoned buildings, to the development of new materials for construction and for fashion; to the design of shared living to combat loneliness and the possible use of the metro system in Copenhagen to create a new distribution system for goods and there are assessments for marginal lands both for protecting vulnerable landscapes and for building settlements on marginal land as climate change effects existing areas of habitation.

This is an opportunity to see where and how teaching is anticipating future developments in architecture and design and it is fascinating to see how models, drawings and the background research for work are presented.

The fashion projects have already been dismantled - they were moved and shown at another venue through fashion week - but the architecture and the furniture design and the ceramic and glass projects and graduation work on typography and game design can be seen through to the 16 August.


Løsninger - KADK Afgangsudstilling Design/Architectur/Konservering

until 16 August 2019 at KADK, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 51, 1435 København K


St Catherine's College

DR - Danish Broadcasting Corporation - are showing the British crime series Endeavour but retitled here in Denmark as Unge Morse or Young Morse.

Set in Oxford in the 1960s, this is the prequel to the very popular detective series Inspector Morse that was made for ITV and broadcast in England through the 1990s.

This episode of Unge Morse - Bytte or Game - plays out around a chess match between a Russian Grand Master and a computer developed in Oxford.

The computer is pretty amazing - all reel-to-reel tapes and green screens and of course not a UI in sight and, for its architecture, there is an interesting role for a public swimming pool but the star of the programme this week is actually a building designed by Arne Jacobsen … St Catherine's College in Oxford although for the TV drama it becomes Lovelace College.

St Catherine’s was completed in 1964 but retains much of the original furniture and light fittings by Jacobsen so look out for the Series 3300 in a corridor and, of course, the high-backed chairs in plywood designed by Jacobsen and made by Fritz Hansen for the high table of the great hall and now known as the Oxford Series.