24 mai 2010

A Belgian blogsister is born!

I am very proud to announce the birth of a blogsister, La Belgique Construite The happy event happened last night and the new born is well and sound. Very promising!

Check out http://labelgiqueconstruite.blogspot.com

And enjoy!

23 mai 2010

Guided tour on the marathon...keeping sporty!

Kalvebod brygge and the Metropolzone
Guided tour organised by DAC and cphx.dk

A bit of a surprise when I ran into runners of the Nycredit Copenhagen Marathon this morning. But finally after some slalom between the streets, the runners and the many spectators I got to Søren Kierkegaards plads for the start of the tour. What I didn't imagine was that actually the marathon would follow us during the whole tour or was it us following them...Anyway, the contrast from last week's tour was drastic! So few users on the watersides last week, and a crowd - ca. 12000 runners and probably as many spectators - today!

Brave and courageous we were and especially our guide who had to manage somehow to talk over the cheering fans, the police's little ochestra playing "Under the sea" from Disney's Little mermaid and the sonorous horns and whistles of some enthusiasts.

So, starting at the edge of the Metropolzone, at Søren Kierkegaards plads, our guide presents the projects of the Black Diamond (Schmidt Hammer Lassen) and the Museum for Jewish History (Daniel Libeskind) with a reflexion on the squares at the feet of the two buildings: what are their function? How are they used? Are they used? What weakenesses do they present? The last questions here are especially relevant for the hollow space that Schmidt Hammer Lassen designed out in front of the library. Close to the building, the space is well used thanks to the café who develops its terrasse close to the water. But the rest is a huge empty space for bike-parking and well, it isn't really defined. Like if it wasn't really finished.

But hopefully this will change with the new building on the Bryghusgrunden, the Brewhous ground, (Rem Koolhaas - OMA) and the square would be activated by both sides. Also, Gehl architects are investigating and working on the square. They are architects but consider themselves most as urban planners and urban quality consultants. Read the famous Life between buildings by Jan Gehl and you will understand why: this is THE reference in terms of urban space and creating urbanity.

The Bryghus project is for the moment being validaded. If everything goes well the building process should start in 2011...The project is huge: a combination of offices, housing, cultural institutions, conference center, public spaces and exhibitions, urban promenade, squares and play-grounds etc. Very exciting in terms of life and flows generated and intertwining on the site.

Next stop is the Nycredit Glaskuben building and the Crystal (both by Schmidt Hammer Lassen). It must be the third or fourth time I am told about the Crystal and if I hadn't checked it out in a guide or on the architects'website, I would be able to define its function: extension to the Nycredit bank head-quarters. It seems that the most important here is the "crystal" allegory, the twisted structure touching the ground in three points and allowing public flow to pass under the building. The liberated ground will receive the Cloud landscape project (SLA, who has recently received one of the most reknow prices in the Danish architectural world): focus has been set on the different type of streams on the site, rushing businessmen, wondering tourists, Sunday walkers, bikes... each moving at their speed on their path.
All those projects are situated only 10 minutes walk from the City Hall, Rådhuspladsen and the central station. But too few notice it. Therefore the City is aiming to develop access to the waterfront, to the cultural buildings - e.g. by creating a cultural axe - and connecting the wity centre with the new dynamics happening on the watersides, as they are developping the Metropolzone.

Kalvebod brygge, which is the name of the city part we are exploring, is about to host the Kalvebod bølge project (Julien de Smedt), in a year or so. The purpose here is to create activation/activity sites in the city and on the water. In a mainly business dedicaded area, where quite some projects have risen without a logic and harmony to their context, those interventions mean to saw together the parts, and provide the area with a regained urban quality.

We arrive slowly to the end of the tour with the SEB bank building, designed by Lundgaard & Tranberg. True to their reputation, the detailling is as beautiful as the buildings plasticity! In fact, it appears through my observations that the plasticity can only be right when the detailling is right. Lundgaard & Tranberg are the perfect example for that!

Here, between the two buildings starts also a green corridor leading down to Dybbelsbro (well, it should lead further down, in to the big DSB railway ground but no concrete plan or initiative exists yet). This green path extends from the "blue one", the main canal and waterfront. They profit from each other and should work together to bring life and quality to Kalvebod. The green path will be a part of the new green biking paths passing through the city. If I am right, the landscape architects from SLA work on this project too.

The green corridor develops up to 7 meters height, corresponding to the second floor of the SEB complex. It works as the foyer for the two buildings, as a green lung for the city and as a roof for the new part of the national archive, Rigsarkivet. More of Rigsarkivet can be seen behind the SEB buildings. A huge monolith block without windows, protecting and keeping a national treasure and heritage and the scientists and searchers working on it. The only expression outwards is the brick wall, which paterns apparently are extracted from the very first writings found in Denmark, zoomed up and applied into the facade's plasticity.

Finally we arrive at the Wake Up Hotel and Tivoli Congress Center (both by Kim Utzon). This last building is also the ending of the green floating gardens.

It was interesting to see and get some more details about a part of the city we already had a sneak-peak at last week tour, discovering more of the considerations behind the architecture and plans along the waterside. Copenhagen is really growing constantly. It is really good to see that the growth also is within the city borders, not expanding out on nature and agriculture landscapes, but working on the inner spaces and holes, getting more dense, more alive, and thereby also more sustainable.

I hope to be able to get to the next tour: a bike tour through Amager. We'll be seeing the neighbourhood development at Holmbladgade and Prags Boulevard, as well as biking down the whole Amager Strand Park.

22 mai 2010

Coming up...

- the 23 May, tomorrow : Guided tour on Kalvebod brygge with DAC
Where and when? Meeting at Søren Kierkegaards plads, close to the harbour bus stop, at 11:00
Read more on cphx.dk

- the 2 June : Debat about Copenhagen, the architectural city - Arkitekturby København
Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard (from Technical and Environmental group) will be explaining some aspects about the newly published architecture politic in Copenhagen. Architecture, urban development, urban space, processes will be discussed.
Where and when? DAC at 17:00 (free registration)
Read more on cphx.dk

Image - Invitation sent by cphx.dk - 26/05

20 mai 2010


I have registred an idea competition some time ago: ResilientCity.org Copenhagen is the physical site for my considerations and proposal.
Submission is due in 10 days...
Check link in the column at your left "KIG EN GANG..."

Aftenstemning i Nordhavnen

Man ville ønske at se lige så meget i den indrehavn so her: aktivitet på vandet, unge ved kajen, mennesker på promenaden. Vejret har nok også sin del i billed...

I did it !

Arkitektur løbet 2010
organised by cphX - in collaboration with DAC, 2100.nu and Østerbro lokaludvalg
start at Amerika Plads, 18:00

Just came back from the architecture run through Østerbro: 6km running between buildings, to use the saying Gehl architects had printed on their team's t-shirts.

The concept: proposing a run for sportive citizens (there are as many diffrent organised runs in Copenhagen as there are summer festivals of all kind - to give you an idea) during which the participants pass recent projects, buildings and urban spaces. Hereby they discover a city part and its dynamic development, they become aware of what is happening in their neighbourhood. When I say discover, I mean it and we didn't jus pass some projects: the route took us THROUGH buildings, halls, gardens, backyards, up and down stairs, over the roads and railways, along the dockside... I would have been surprised if we had to plunge in the water or jump from boat to boat.

At the end, water, fruit, energy bars, beer and grilled sausages (on that point an alternative for vegetarians would have been nice), an architecture guide for everyone...and a really nice jazz band setting the atmosphere for a good evening on the docks of Nordhavn.

It was a very fun run! I hope I'll be there to do it next year!

map - source: chpx.dk

19 mai 2010

Showing people on the architecture photographies, or not ?

Arkitekturfotografiets fremtid - The future of architecture photography
an investigation and debat on its past, present and future
Opening to the exhibition A second Opinion at DAC
in collaboration with cphX and Copenhagen photo festival
Read more about speakers on cphx.dk

Well of course, the subject is deeper, more complexe and has passed that superficial question long ago. Nevertherless the debat is about life and use of our architectural creations expressed by a media -more or less artistical, creative or profit and publicity minded- and finally published. The circle is closed: expressing and showing life for the everyday users of the building.

What defines life and what defines if the building functions? The aesthetics of it, the use and deterioration of it, the energical or economical audit, the resemblance to a 3D image made before any permit was given, the expression of some tortured architect mind looking for a meaning in his profession...The opinion might change radically depending on who is asked! But the building is part of an urban space, part of the citizens' everyday life, so it HAS to bring an extra value somehow. This condition usually is considered fulfilled if the building or site "lives".
Here comes next quetsion...

How to show life in architecture and urban spaces? How to communicate it? By the play of shadow and light on the materials, by waiting for rush hour to take your pictures, by setting every detail and controlling every appearing object and subject of the pictures (refering to the American photographer Cruz), by suggesting some forms and contrasts in a blurry picture (refering to Japanese photographer), by showing the mess in an appartment or by showing its pristine design with a design chair in the corner. Should architecture be exposed as a product or as an other element of the photography? Should the photographer's work be like a promoter branding and selling this product or an eye aknowledging art and harmony behind facts? Can he be both? Should he be a cameleon to his client's desideratas (being the architect or the magazine editor)?

The presentations and debat brought us to a consideration: everyone wants something new and would like to reveal its work differently. The architect looks for a critical eye enabling him to evoluate in his own field. The photographer has to be that eye and has soemthing to say in a certain way defined by his vision or opinion. The editor would like to report both visions in order to give the reader and citizen an objective base for its understanding and opinion-making of what is happening in his city. But that means someone has to take responsibility for his work: the architect by accepting critic, the photographer by standing up to his vision and the editor by investing in the right material and photographs.

Here comes the tricky part: "it's his fault that I am unable to do so". The architect needs to get clients, thus to sell and show how good he is with plastics, aesthetics and form making. He also needs to reassure himself and his ego on what ge is doing. The photographer needs clients so he does what he is asked and delivers images that aren't always arcording to his view. The editor needs to run his business too: he needs money if he should hire the photographers and is a bit short so he just asks the architect to give him some nice pictures and that's it. The reader says "Wow!" or "What?"...

In the end, I think it is up to all parts to challenge himself with his own discipline in order to show the public that architecture is an art of plasticity but also a social art, an art enhancing or preventing life, an art of high technical apsects, to show the public that photographers aren't just observers but have a history to tell about that same architecture and its urban context (well natural context also but here we were talking much about Copenhagen), to show the public that editors aren't just on the architects side, all together in an hermetic sect, but revealing architectural facts as a good reporter would do.
Good examples of collaboration between architects, photographers and editors has been seen in France and Switzerland with the firms Lacaton Vassal and Herzog & de Meuron.

That was also the conclusion of the debat and the opening to the exhibition...Enjoy it!

18 mai 2010


I'll be reporting on the debat of 17th May about the status of architecture photography.

17 mai 2010

(Un)sunny Sunday in Copenhagen harbour

København havn op og ned - Copenhagen harbour up and down
Guided harbour tour organized by DAC and cphX
(check out the next dates on their website cphx.dk)

Rain was pouring down on Saterday and Sunday wasn't looking much brighter but nonetheless I jumped on my bike and went to the first free summer tour of DAC, a harbour tour from north to south, from Søndre Frihavn to Sydhavn. Our guide took us on a journey exploring all the thoughts, discussions, masterplans, projects and buildings - aswell the realised ones that you see today along the waterfront as those that stayed on the drawing board.

The harbour of Copenhagen has been the center for a very strong and dynamic development the past years. The industrial waterfront was emptied from life and no interest nor recognition was shown for the waterspace as quality bringing element to the city.

Since several years, the renewal of waterfronts has become a trend in post-industrial cities, such as the renewal of their brown fields. The question is: what to do with the left-overs of industry, which are parts of the city -sometimes very central and huge areas- suffering from a very negative image. Among those, the most drastic example is Liverpool waterfront!

Usualy, harbours and waterfront are planned to become the center for art and creative production, combined with culture and a dynamic mix of functions. Here I refer back to the conference of Eva de Klerck on NDSM in Amsterdam northern dockyard.

As starting point, an enquiry was made about the kind of buildings and functions that should be hosted in the harbour and what kind of typology. Henning Larsen architecture office came with the conclusion that it should be big cultural buildings, justifying the typology of the new theater (Lundgaard & Tranberg), the opera house (Henning Larsen), the Black Diamond (Schmidt Hammer Lassen) or the coming Brewhouse (OMA). The city of Copenhagen has also decided that watherver will be built down to the waterfront, it should always bee possible for citizen to walk the whole way up and down, on a public deck or promenade. This means that all projects, even housings, have to deal with complex and interessant topics such as the delicate private-public transition. The city also has developped a special institution, By & Havn, which is concerned with the development of Copenhagen harbour and Ørestad and has continually an overview on the continuity and unity between the masterplans.

Sailing North...
With much detailled explanations we sailed passed Papirøen -"Paper Island", artificial island where you find the storage for the magazine and daily news -, Holmen - old military area developped into artistic and living islands with the school for architecture, conservatory for rythm instruments and the Torpedo hall (Vandkunsten) as well as the famous Opera house (Henning Larsen) -, Refshaløen - industrial island where the underground loud and exciting parties and which is to be developped into a recreation and sports island -...

... into the Søndre Frihavn and Marmormolen - where Copenhagen hosts the ferries coming from Oslo and Poland, recently developped and supposed to become a very lively and busy area in the future due to the hopefully growing interest from firms and professionals, and due to the coming FN-project (3XN) and tour projects (Steven Holl) on Marmormolen.

Before turning south, our guide introduces us to the coming project on the northern harbour: Nordholmernes delta, by COBE. A sustainable city part where the main objectives are on:
1. an energywise sustainable city (technicaly and materially),
2. a green mobility plan with rail connection to the center,
3. a city for bikes with the first "bike highway",
4. life in the citypart with diversity and mixity,
5. the historical connection to the maritim world as identity,
6. a city for all and for every hour of the day with diversity in typologies, functions, lifestyles and atmospheres.

Down again...
Down Langelinie, where the mermaid should be when she isn't visiting Shanghai, we observe the dockhouses, old, restaured or just newly built, positionned along the water as heavy blocks. The tour continues passing the Kvæsthus bridge - old dock for the ferries and where you can enjoy today during the summer Copenhagen biggest beach -, the new Theatre house (Lundgaard & Tranberg), the temporary urban spaces created by citiznes along the old harbour and close to the custom house, the extension to the Royal Library, the Black Diamond (Schmidt Hammer Lassen), the museum for Jewish History of their escape from Denmark to Sweden (Studio Daniel Libeskind), the Brewhouse site where hopefully OMA's project soon will stand - a mix of cultural institutions among which DAC, offices e.g. Real Dania one of the biggest fond for the building business in Denmark, conference rooms, sun decks along the water and on the roof, housings, play ground for children and young people of all ages -, the metropole zone where a bunch of offices, hotels and conference centers (firms as Lundgaard & Tranberg, Kim Utzon, PLH has been at work there with Ticoli conference center, Wake Up Hotel, Copenhagen Island Hotel, a new bank and other firms and production offices) has popped up between the waterside and the railway.

We arrive to the southern part of the harbour with the new Havneholm and the Fisketorvet on Kalvebod Brygge. It isn't the nicest part of town, architecturally seen. The reason is that many projects have just risen there without any propper consideration of its neirghbour or context. The grounds were sold in the 1990's by the City when it was almost bankrupt: prices were low and big firms just bought the sites. No masterplan was designed and you can definately tell by the general look of it. Fisketorvet, the shopping mall and cinema, is comparable to an American mall, huge labyrinth where consumtion is the purpose and only logic: no interaction with the particular surroundings, a complicated box with a black shiny shell, no genius loci! But passing the bridge and you'll see the seducing housings from Lundgaard & Tranberg where privacy and public spaces are delicately marked via the plan, the volumes and the use of inner yards and canal.

Passing the bridge of Dissing+Weitling - known also for the Storebælt bridge - we move slowly down to Sydhavn.

Sydhavnen : Teglholmen and Sluseholmen
This part of Copenhagen weren't thought to be developped once: people would never live that much south from center. So you still find some heavy industry and production buildings.

But it is also the site that was given to Soeters van Eldonk in order to create a canal city inspired by Java eilanden in Amsterdam. The Dutch studio designed the masterplan and in collaboration with Arkitema developped the typology that would suit the plan and express the differenciation between inner and outer parts, more private and more public exposed facades. At least 5 architecture studios were set on each block in order to assure variety in the facade design, probably an expression for a hoped social diversity.

Housings by Vandkunsten on Teglholmen (old production site for bricks in Cph, tegl) - designed as houses on piers so that the ground floor is free for social-water-outdoor activities. Boats can be parked under, people can fish and clean it in the outdoor kitchen thought for that purpose...

Passing by Metropolis, designed by an Indian firm and rising in the middle of the waters, we take a quick look at the last bit of ground that should receive one day the continuation of the masterplan for Sluseholmen. This part of the city is still very monofunctional and lacks easy connections to the city centre. Therefore the city has open a competition for a basic school along the water. This was won by JJW architects: their project will take as much advantage of the presence of water and is designed so sportive and recreative activities will be possible along and in the water of the canals, that way cultivating the children's relation to water. Furthermore, a bridge, designed by Hvidt arkitekter, will connect Sluseholmen with Teglholm and allow easy access by car to the city center.

Easter waterfront, the natural side...
As we sail back we pass Amagerfælled, the biggest protected green zone in Copenhagen. Behind it, lies the Ørestad and its experimental architecture. This piece of nature is used partly by garden collonies and self-builder society, Nokken. A plan is in making that would connect that pre-Christiania part of town to the city by low houses and studios, getting higher as they get closer to the Havnestad, or "Harbour city".

The Havnestad was the place for soya production in earlier years. An explosion put a stop to the production. Now the old dock buildings have been reused, the silos are transformed into appartments and office spaces have been created. The Gemini Residence is a work of MVRDV and JJW architects.

The old grain silos, the Diesel house and the red brick silos house are the three remaining silos from the soya industry. Further up, a park has been created along the water, again integrating the industrial past of the harbour: an old wagon stands in the middle, railway tracks crosses the pavement, an old wooden boat has been turned upside down and is now a kind of kiosk or scene with a roof.

And then of course we have the well-known harbour bath by PLOT. Julien de Smedt, co-founder of PLOT before they parted to JDS and BIG, is developping a new harbour bath at Kalvebod brygge and another one will come in the southern harbour.

After two hours we are back, slightly wet and very cold...
But what a good overview I have now about all the projects in the harbour. So exciting! I just wish they were as lively, busy and dense as they are on paper. Of course the bad weather, the cold month of May and their young age can justify this. It takes time before a new city part is wriggling with life. I still miss maybe the physical connection between all those projects, the actual continuity that seems to be so important for both architects, urbanists and By og Havn actors. My belief is that it will appear with an even more active use of the water and not just its sides. Time will show.

Thanks to the guide!

13 mai 2010

What about architecture photography?

the 17 May : A second opinion , debat evening on architecture photography in connexion to the exhibition of the work of Jakob Galtt and Jens Markus Lindhe at DAC. Will be discussed the tradition, trends and renewal of architecture photography.
Where and when? DAC, Danish Architecture Center, at 19:00 (subscribe on DAC website - free entrance)
Read more on dac.dk and cphx.dk

foto - frøsiloen Gemini Residence (by MVRDV and JJW architects), Kalvebod brygge, inaugurated in 2005

12 mai 2010

Wondering around...about...wonderful Copenhagen

Look what a good news just popped up in my mail box : the summer guided tours of CopenhagenX... Free tours in the city, looking for/at the newly developped areas and projekts, by foot, by bike or by boat.

Follow the guide, or follow me... I'll be going and reporting.


Learning from Amsterdam 2

Kasper Egeberg about Eva de Klerk and the event Learning from Amsterdam


10 mai 2010


The Office for Metropolitant Architecture has come up with a plan that would unify Europe energywise. For my part I think it a brilliant vision!
Have a look at the Roadmap 2050 and read the article by Rowan Moore in The Observer


map - source: www.oma.eu

9 mai 2010

Opera ex machina

Operaen - Open doors at the new opera house
Location: Holmen, along the main canal, opposite Amalienborg and Amalienhave
Project by Henning Larsen
Private initiation of A.P. Møller - Mærsk - as gift for the city
Inaugurated in 2005

A place full of contrasts... Especially today with the grey Danish weather!
Outside, the old industrial harbour stillbearing the marks of its metallic past. Inside, the celebration of luxury and refinement. The materials - the marble on the floors, the polished maple pannels on the walls of the great hall, the glass reflecting the water and allowing the view of the panorama on the waterfront, the glass used by Olafur Eliasson for the three great chandeliers - the space and the light create a place where time stops. This suits very well the opera world if you listen to the definition that the operachef Kasper Holten gave at his welcome speech today: "a place where time is flexible, where you can stop and reflect on the great moments and feelings of our human lives that are too complexe or terrible to describe with words...a place where the music and the voices celebrate those moments".

The guided tour took us down to the rehearsal hall, behind the scene, up to the rehearsal artist loges and down again to the foyer. Great technics were described that assure the right acoustic, the feeling of daylight even at -5th floor, the efficient change of coulisses (different masterpieces being produced and performed for a same period) etc. It is a great piece of architecture, no doubt about that.

But I cannot forget the very close resemblance to the music hall of Luzern in Switzerland, done by Jean Nouvel. When you compare, the swiss original one is more convincing, especially in the work done on the great music hall. Much more true to the concept in a way. I also regret that the Danish opera house has such a beautiful front part - facade and foyer space - leaving the administrative and backstages in a very cartesian plan of rooms linked by corridors. When you get to the upper part and deck, the plan opens more outwards again and the rooms breath again. But the small offices and their facade are quite basic. Maybe this unforgiving feeling also comes after the visit of the facing brother : the theatre house. Yes, you find corridors and stairways but somehow they are a part of your journey in the building, they are made interesting by small but decisive details.

But here is a thing I particularly appreciated... the continuity between the floor inside and the stone deck outside.
You ought to know that the opera house has been the seat of quite some polemics also, among which the most strong ones were between the architect and the client!

To talk about the musical experience I can report two very nice concerts of thirty minugtes each: a brass kvintet from the Royal Chapel played some traditionnal pieces of the repertoire - Vagn Holmboe, Victor Ewald, Malcolm Arnold - and a smaller delegation from the Royal Opera choir sang Brahms' Liebeslieder Walzer. I am not very used to brass repertoire though the instruments fascinates me: the colour and the son cuivré are delightful, I think. I really enjoyed the whole concert and all the pieces they played today. It was the second time I heard playing some Ewald: I start to get to know more this Russian engineer and composer and I appreciate his work more and more. The last piece was of Malcolm Arnold I believe: very light and joyful, and quite jazzy...

And then the Liebeslieder, well, what else to say that is as beautiful as ever. One of the most known piece of Brahms probably: its harmonious atmosphere must be the reason! The bass singer gave us a funny little anecdote. It is written on the scores that it is a piece for piano with vocal accompaniment "if desired", which means that the choir part that we all know, recognize and hum along, is actually accessory!

7 mai 2010

Design and architecture at Pakhus48

Forårsevent - Designzone Pakhus48
Invited speakers Ole Gustavsen and Alfredo Häberli

Pakhus48 is situated in Frihavnen, in the north harbour of Copenhagen. It lies in a rough industrial-looking context with immediate views on the waters of Øresundet. Pakhus48 shelters design firms such as Montana, Luce Plan, Fritz Hansen, Kvadrat, Jørgensen, Vola. They stand for some of the finest interior designs and solutions and have been collaborating with great names from the designer world in order to produce and promote esthetic lines and functional products.The Spring Event I attended yesterday was as fine and glamourous as the products exposed there. But most of all, I had the chance to assist presentations by Ole Gustavsen, architect from Snöhetta and Alfredo Häberli, Swiss designer. They represent different scales of the design world but with the same attention for use, clear logic and high quality.

Ole showed us some of the architecture projects Snöhetta did/is doing in the Muslim world. It was amazingly interesting : the excitment but also the challenge it must be to produce a shelter for a community, citizens of a culture where heat and shade, climate, religion, topography, traditions and habits are so different from what we are used to in Europe. By the way, it seems that Scandinavian architects are quite often acting in the southern architectural world and are quite good at it - often those buildings are landmarks to the country and references to the architectural world. Take for instance, Jørn Utzon's National assembly in Kowait city, Henning Larsen's work in Saudi Arabia, Snöhetta's library of Alexandria.

Huge projects. Huge work. Impressive presentation skills. I would give anything to get into that team...

Alfredo started by expressing that he felt as a student to present his work after those projects of several hundred thousands square meters. He showed us his work and inspirations in a very humble and humoristic way. Humor, th key to great design? Well, as long as the final product shows line cleverness, material sensibility, quality awareness and good understanding of the use we make of our environment. That is at least what Alfredo reveals. Fascinating and great.

The rest of the evening was just agreable: beautiful lines, forms, colours, simple and clean solutions...A joy to the eye and the hand. The whole thing in wonderful warehouse settings. In some way it had the same atmosphere as NDS in Amsterdam - the difference is that here we are exhibiting the production of artistic and creative disciplines.

5 mai 2010

Overlooking the visual or the paradigm of designers

Overlooking the visual - Demystifying the art of design
a book from Kathryn Moore, professor at the Birgmingham Institute of Art and Design

Jakob Kamp (head of Danish Landscape architects association and co-founder of 1:1 landskab) introduced Kathryn's conference and book as the expression of the link between teaching, theory and practice in landscape architecture. But furthermore, Kathryn's book concerns anyone working with design process and creative disciplines.

It is about expressing in words what people from the profession use to express with drawings and to develop by sketching. With those words Jakob expressed the hope of a better understanding of what we are doing as designers and also, and mainly, the hope of getting people "out there" to understand "our role in the society".

This first statement is quite interesting regarding the split of understanding growing between architects - or designers to use the general noun Kathryn uses - and the users of our productions. It seems that since the modernism designers have been acting in the name of a better world or living qualities, in the name of users that did not understand them and that probably they did not understand neither. Pathetic, isn't it? Especially after the speach of Eva De Klerk (cf. comment on her conference on the 04.05.10 at DAC) that got that far as claiming that users don't actually need all the fancy drawing and designs architects and planners want to make...

But getting back on todays matter, Kathryn develops: this book and the questions it arises are of a philosophical matter: philosophical questions regarding all kinds of design and investigating the meaning of design. In order to do so, she looks into the understanding of design and designers.

The first gap appears between scientific disciplines, accurate, rational, where thinking and decision making requires a certain knowledge. On the contrary, the designer or artist moves in a much less accurate field of expertise, more visual, where answers are found by doing, doing and re-doing, sketching, building, tearing down and building again. Because of that process, it appears to be a field where feelings matters more, if not most, no prerequisits are expected in order to do qualified work, no knowledge to appreciate it. Here is the first lack of understanding or even misunderstanding which awakes a lot of questionning on the scientific side concerning the justification of the designer's work, the time and money spent on it and on the teaching of such a profession.

She carries on with particuliar attention to some keys or elements which can help the understanding process. These seem to come from within, from the designers themselves who should express and define their profession. Kathryn talks about the quality of design and of experiences in a designed space, the focus reset on ideas and design through writting, the use and importance of materiality, how perception and language will help us in defining our field of expertise. All those elements should contribute to create an awarness about the visual and spatial aspects of our profession and how we use them in our processes and projects.

The topic is most interesting and probably touches one of the most historical weakness of the creative discipline. I would be curious to read more about it and find out how far she goes or how close she gets to an answer...

Food for thought.
foto - source: www.arch.virginia.edu

4 mai 2010

Learning from Amsterdam

Learning from Amsterdam - a debat on creative city development
Speaker Eva De Klerk, project booster

Eva explained the main aspects of her experience in the Development of NDSM as a cultural and artistic cluster, a starting point for the redevelopment of the old -and historical - industrial harbour site, north of the Ij.

A kind of trend existed already among artists and people, in need of a production space for their craft, to squat old warehouses, silos etc. From 1993 and on, the city of Amsterdam had a vision about redevelopping the waterfront. The old buildings were torn down and new fancy areas with high-tech buildings and upper class housings popped/pops up. This leads to a time of reflexion on how to (re)develop a city and renovate it. Opposition movements take action against the loss of great infrastructures, which are both images of a past history, identity to some people/users and good basis for functional renewal.

Eva De Klerk refers to the manifest De stad als casco = "The city as framework"

In that context, NDSM is the aiming place of several artists gathered under the name of Kinetisch Noord, for whom Eva stands as head representant. She explained all the ideas and principles they went trough when entering the competition for a 5 years occupation of the site - which turned out to a 10 years after a feasability plan.

Mainly it is about investing the users money and interests into the city and the project so that the return is more direct, the commitment and responsability are stronger, initiatives are facilitated. Thereby the project is "doable" with less means - cheaper for the state - and sustainable - based on an existing infrastructure. The lot is managed and organised by the collectivity, by the users, for the users. The city part is (re)built from what they have with their own means and money.

This method is not a planned one. It is the hard way of bottom-up, activated by the existence of a need and users willing to do something to answer their need. No fancy drawings or planning as the well known method top-down, used by planners and developpers.

Very inspiring conference...is all I have to add.

foto - source: www.cphx.dk

3 mai 2010

Design and architecture at Pakhus48

the 6 May : designer Alfredo Häberli from Zurich and architect Ole Gustavsen from Snöhetta, Oslo, will be making a presentation on methodology, inspiration sources and architecture in the muslim world. I am looking forward to that!

Where and when? Pakhus48, Frihavnen, at 16:30
Read more on www.pakhus48.dk

Hopenhagen ?...

I would celebrate Copenhagen i many ways but of course there are the less shiny sides too... Like here after the 1st May events in Fælledparken.

Where were the environmental-minded and responsible Danes then? Is that the consequences of the welfare state? Let the cleaning be done by the people hired to do the job? What about all the energy used for that cleaning...talking about Hopenhagen, this wouldn't be a good publicity for the city.

1 mai 2010

Rum og bevægelse 2

Statens Museum for Kunst
Location: København centrum, Georg Brandes Plads, ved Kongens have (Nørreport station)
Tegnet af Vilhelm Dahlerup og C.F. Møller
Opført efter Christiansborg branden i 1884, udvidet i 1998 efter en arkitektkonkurrence

I anledning til Dansens dage var jeg på SMK for at se en "dans-musik-happening" forstilling :

Superhands på Dansens dage

Jeg forstår ikke altid så meget alt det bag dans og koreografi men synes det er en fascinerende verden for de rumelig aspekter og den kropselig og sanselig opmærksomhed det kræver. Det kan siges at det var en spændende erfaring til som kunne opleves på scenen i SMK.
Stedet egner sig også til særlige rumelig oplevelser! Et af mine favoriter i Kbh: det er et af de få steder hvor man kan stå helt fysisk i overgangen mellem en historisk bygning og sin moderne udvidelse. Man står i lyset, i et rum mellem udendørs og indendørs, et teater til parken hvor scenen - som særlig kulturel mødepunkt - byder på udsigt og indsigt.

SMK har en fantastisk samling af kunst og nogle rigtig interessante udstillinger men erfare det transitions rum - skulpturgaden - har altid haft en vis effekt på mig, allerede ved mit første besøg som barn - naiv og uvidende mht det uddannet arkitekt blik. En fornemmelse at stå hvor det sker. Det er nemlig ikke en overflade som er i kontakt med den gamle bygning, det er et rum: det er en stor forskel!
Selv udvidelsen er selvføldig smuk med vinduer og rammer til både omgivelserne, udstillingsrummene, caféen, den gamle facade. Og overfladen og detajlerne - ja, fordi et rum har trods alt en side som er i kontakt med det gamle - er vel udarbejdet.

Men kom selv og erfare skulpturgaden og scenen, rummene og deres indhold.


Foråret mellem rækkerne

Lægeforeningens boliger - Brumleby
Location: Østerbrogade 57, mellem Trianglen, Parken og svømmehallen
Tegnet af arkitekt Michael Gottlieb Bindesbøll (1. del i 1853-57)
og af arkitekt Vilhelm Klein (2. del i 1866-72)
Opfordret af lægen Emil Hornemann

Foråret er kommet til København. Og torsdag forførde den mig til Brumleby.
- bare navnet er fuldt af forårs flagrende vinger og brummende bier! -

I 1853 slog koleraen hårdt til i København. I samme linje som de engelske hygienister fra slutningen af 19.århundred og som Ebenezer Howard og sin utopi om en lille "have-by", tog lægen Emil Hornemann "initiativet til at bygge lægeforeningens boliger som de første social arbejderboliger opført i det åbne land uden for voldene". Det nye og innoverende var bl.a. fællesanlæggene som børnehave, badeanstalt, mødesal og brugsforening.

Idéer med at rive det hele ned til gavn for større og højere nybyggeri var dukked op i 1930'erne og igen i 1950'erne. Det fik som konsekvens at beboernee lod det forfalde eller forlod stedet. I 1960'erne flytted unge og studerende der ind; dermed deltog de i kampen med at bevare Brumleby.

Bebyggelsen bliv fredet i 1959. Byfornyelse og restaurering bidrog til at modernisere stedet og gøre det til et trendy kvarter.

"Såvel kulturhistorisk som arkitekturhistorisk er Brumleby noget ganske enestående [...]" står der på indgangs skitet.Det var i den behagelig og særpræget coulisse at det Københavnske forår kunne nydes i torsdags, midt i byen og stadig uden for hverdagens hektisk rytme.

Brumleby est la version danoise de notre cité-jardin de Boitsfort. Il s'agit des premiers logements sociaux pour la classe ouvrière construits sous l'initiative du médecin Emil Hornemann, suite à l'épidémie de choléra qui frappa Copenhague en 1853. Leur grande innovation réside dans les installations et facilités collectives: crèche, bains, salle de réunion, ainsi que la toute première association d'usagers à Copenhague.

L'ensemble est situé à l'extérieur des bastions urbains et en cela répond aux considérations des hygiénistes anglais de la fin du 19 siècle et suit le mouvement des cités-jardins de Ebenezer Howard.Dans les années 1930 et 1950, la spéculation foncière jette son dévolu sur Brumleby et beaucoup de discussions s'en suivent. Celles-ci ont pour conséquence une incertitude quant à l'avenir du quartier qui est, de fait, négligé et mal entretenu par ses habitants. La classe ouvrière abandonne les lieux en faveur de jeunes et d'étudiants. La mobilisation pour conserver le quartier aboutit à une inscription à la liste de protection du patrimoine en 1959. Actuellement, les plans de restauration et la rénovation urbaine entamée en 1986 en ont fait un lieu prisé.

L'écriteau à l'entrée indique aussi : "Tant culturellement qu'architecturalement, Brumleby représente quelque chose d'assez unique"Et c'est au sein de ce havre de paix, dans ces coulisses idylliques que le printemps était au rendez-vous ce jeudi. Pour quelques moments volés à un quotidien fortement rythmé...