6 juin 2010

Before Saterday's night fever...

Again a sunny day in the Danish capital city...I ride my bike into town to sense the atmosphere and enjoy some of the summer activities.

5 juin 2010

Metro, metro, metro, make me a square...

The project of the new Metro Cityring expected for 2018 will not only benefit the citizens on the mobility aspect. Each new stop, each new station will generate a node in the city's web: the underground project pops over ground and provides the urban space with new designing conditions for the new squares.

In order to assure that those squares will be appreciated and used by the neighbourhood's inhabitant, open workshops are organised to collect ideas and opinions from the people. The landscape architects move their studio out in the city...

When and where? 5 Saterdays in a row starting from the 29th May - today the 5th June, it takes place in the inner city at Kongens Nytorv and the stations of Gamle Strand, Kongens Nytorv, Marmorkirken, Rådhuspladsen and Østerport will be under the pen of the Københavner.
Read more on www.m.dk/byrum

Here are some suggestions to watch...(accessible on the website also)

A summer night's dream...?

Kvæstbroen, the dike next to the Skuespilhuset, was supposed to be a parking place. Fortunatelly it isn't. But it is a great activity nerve at summer! The concrete dike is transformed into sand beach and grass fields where you can play volley ball, soccer or just sit on the surrounding benches and enjoy the most beautiful sight of Copenhagen harbour.

Welcome to Ofelia Beach

Again it is something about places which were empty at some point but by their seasonal revival contributes to the city's identity map. Suddenly the Opera house seems closer and the old warehouses too.

Biking hom from the theater, passing by Kastellet and swifting along Langelinie and Svanemøllen strand. Lights and sound from the leisure harbour and from the café on Refshaløen gives the rythm and atmosphere to my route.

Rødt og grønt - Red and green

Skuespilhuset - Det Kongelig Teater - and Kvæstbroen

Location: København centrum, ved havnefronten
Tegnet af Lundgaard & Tranberg
International arkitektkonkurrence udskrevet af Kulturministeriet i 2001

One of my favourite occupation in Copenhagen, why? Go there, and you'll know...Interesting, interrogating and exciting plays with quality actors in spaces and rooms challenging the eyes and satisfying the senses.

This time the play, Rødt og grønt, questions the public on the social work in developping countries: how do the "helping immigrants" live, how do they act, how do they consider themselves and the people around them, what is their purpose? Compassion or ego-building? What kind of fake world in between home and abroad have they created in order to survive and get the impression of doing something meaningful in this world? It is more a critical parody on a trend existing some decennies ago but still what do we actually know about those people we send to attend to others? What gives us the impression we need to help and interfere, what gives us the right, and especially who? How far can we go before it is affecting someone else's vital rights?

From laughter to some kind of unpleasant feeling of blasphemy, this piece was greatly produced, everything laying in subtilities and details.

The friendly evening temperature allowed to enjoy the leasure installations on Kvæstbroen, in front of the theater.

See also post from the 27th April 2010

4 juin 2010

Kayak in the harbour

Saterday is Grundlovsdagen in Denmark. It celebrates the first Main Legislation adopted in the country on the 5th June 1849. It is as close as you get to the National day here and it celebrates also our democracy -I am not going to start a debat on that point here.

In stead of being lazy, I suggest a free kayak tour in the inner harbour! Realea and Mykayak are behind the idea and hope thereby to awake interest around the Bryghusgrunden project -Brewhouse project, see the posts on guided tours with DAC.

Where and when? At Mykayak, just by the Bryghusgrunden on Christians brygge, close to the Black Diamond, between 14:00 and 16:00
Read more on http://www.cphx.dk/#/428304/

Arkitektur løbet 2010

The pictures have arrived on cphx.dk... Unfortunately I am not to be seen in my athletic effort but the atmosphere is there. Maybe this will tempt some of you to participate next year.

More on http://www.cphx.dk/#/427952/

3 juin 2010

Munch, Warhol and Louisiana

Warhol after Munch - opening to the new exhibition at LOUISIANA Museum of Modern Art

Location: North from Copenhagen, at Humlebæk
Designed by Jørgen Bo and Wilhelm Wohlert
On demand by founder Knud W. Jensen in 1958 : extension for the main villa

Louisiana is this wonderful place: a museum with the finest modern art you could dream of -one of the biggest in Scandinavia!- in a building stating the best of the Danish functionalism and in a natural context that is breath-taking. I trip to Louisiana is always like an energy treat to me! I look forward to any visit and live a long time on the inspiration I gather there!

The founder Knud W. Jensen started up the museum with the intention to offer the Danes a place where they could enjoy the latest performances from the Danish Modern Art world. He had this idea to combine hot rooms and cool rooms on the visitor's road: the hot ones being the traditionnal Modern Art with wellknown and appreciated pieces and the cool ones being the last innovations eventually more complexe or provocative, more difficult to accept and understand. To this day it hosts up to 3000 pieces of post-war art history (after 1945).

The functionalist building which everyone identifies as Louisiana is actually the extension(s) to the original mansion. The dialog between the natural and biological context, the view over the Øresund and the masterpieces makes the art and space experience, one of a kind.

The sobre choice of materials the elegant lines and especially the spaces are typical for the Danish functionalism in architecture. But it is a functionalism integrated in its site and therefore much more succesful than maybe some work of Mies van der Rohe -remarkable buildings but so unfunctional in their functionalism. This integration to the site brings though one unfunctional effect: the museum is a labyrinth for those who aren't accustomed to the "wondering-around" visiting routine. The many meters of corridors -well, it is more than corridors because of the special relation to the nature just behind the window, but it is pure passage function- mustn't be very economical or ecological in terms of heating and maintenance...

picture - source : flickr.com

Warhol after Munch, the exhibition opening

I was among the fortunate ones to see the exhibition in preview with a short presentation speach from one of the people in charge.
For those who do not know Edvard Munch is the painter behind "The scream", which reputation has overtaken his creator. Norvegian painter from the 19th-20th century he is known to reveal through his work the cruel reality of life: illness and death. Tuberculose took his mother when he was 5 and his sister when he was 13 and he was himself weak in health. That could justify why the thought of death always darkens even his most light paintings.
Illness and death are very physical in his expression, linked to the suffering body -the "Madonna" is represented with an ill-looking foetus in the left corner, his self-portrait glows out of a dark space under which lies a skeleton arm, background figures seems like gosts, faces are thin and the eyes hollow. But I mean also physical in the way he uses the brush.
Somehow though I think -I choose to think- that this dark veil doesn't have to be a depressive and pessimistic view of life but rather a stetement of a harsh reality which is to be taken into consideration in order to enjoy and taste more intensively the good moments in life -so that you are conscious about your luck as long as you live.

Facing those heavy thoughts about life, you could be surprised to see a light spirit such as Andy Warhol. But the exhibition intends to show how Warhol actually reflects more deeply through his work and, on the opposite, how Munch maybe might be more superficial. The exhibitions traces the two artists' similarities: the choice of subjects as death, fear and sexuality, the use of repetition as a tool for strong and direct communication, the use of prints and gravure, their provocative spirit and critisized work.

In fact, Warhol used four of Munch's gravures, scaled them up and tainted them with those bright colours that are so typical for his work and the work of the publicity industry: Munch's selfportrait, the Madonna, the Scream and the Broche-Eva Mudocci. Their reproduction and sometimes combination -the Self-portrait and the Madonna, as a couple and a condensed life frieze- arrise new interrogations and reactivates the feelings that were at the origin of their making, but within a new era of communication and flashy effects.

Anyhow, the exhibition is fascinating and intriguing both by its object and subjects: the reasons to oppose or unite these two giants of the Modern Art world, aswell as the two painters themselves and their work. So for either one reason or the other, go and have a look. It is definitely worth it.

Farven i Kunsten -The colours in art-, quick review of the magnificent exhibition
I was there at Easter a first time but the quality, beauty and quantity is so overwhelming that review(s) are necessary and enjoyable. The aim of this exhibition is to show the evolution of the use and reflections behind colours in mordern pictural art through the 20th century. The technic is scalled up to show how colour is used, where, in which proportion and which tonalities. The reflactions from the different painters are to read on the walls through the visit. The masterpieces and their many authors are to be enjoyed. I discovered many painters I didn't know, saw some of the gods I knew, was surprised by some sides of others, ravished by the energy they transmit to the viewer: how incredible and wonderful that such a thing as a painting -an object- can be so alive! It is just fantastic! Go if you haven't yet -the exhibition is open till the 13th June!

pictures - source : www.louisiana.dk

Politics and architecture...?

Arkitekturby København - Københavns Kommunes Arkitekturpolitik 2009 Copenhagen City of architecture - Copenhagen Municipality architecture politic 2009

Debat organised by DAC and cphX
Speakers Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, Teknik- og Miljøforvaltning borgmester, Ulrik Winge from Center for Bydesign, Ulla Tofte from Golden Days, Martin Keiding, chief redactor at Arkitektur DK, Simon Harboe from Hovedstadens forskønnelse and Rasmus Rune from 2+1 idébureau.

illustration - source : Publication Arkitekturby København, Center for Bydesign, Teknik- og Miljøforvaltning, 2009

In December 2009 was published the new architecture politic for the city of Copenhagen. It is the result of a long research and work process but still the politicians and people in charge from the Technical and Environmental Group are eager to hear what people have to say about it and what could be pointed out as aspect to work on for the future.

Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard and Ulrik Winge started by presenting the general aspects of the architecture politic. In the General Plan from 1954 was stated that the development of Copenhagen was coming to its end: no more will, no more could, no more should be done or built. This has proved to be a mistake. In 2001, the first architecture politic was a reaction to a city in need of attracting citizens and inhabitants in order to develop itself. Now the city is under such a development that it is necessary to evaluate the needs and lifestyle of those inhabitants in order to keep the good and work on the bad spaces.

Another point is that Copenhagen aims to become a CO2 neutral city, the first CO2 neutral capital in the world, by 2025. Ambitious plan! But to achieve sustainability in such a way and time needs a support and guidelines which should be provided by this architectrue politic. But Bo Asmus estimates that Copenhagen wouldn't find to much of an issue in the sustainable part.

On the contrary the health and care are subjects for complaining. Therefore the architecture politic is reflecting a lot on the city's rooms, supporting thereby the city for the people living in it and working on the human scale. This point is somehow related to Jan Gehl's work and Bo Asmus uses the architect's latest publication (By for mennesker - City for people) in order to define this aspect: 1. sustainable behaviour, 2. accessibility, 3. safety and 4. mixity and diversity.

Finally Bo Asmus expresses the desire to talk about more than city and architecture, but also about qualities. Those are the conditions sine qua non for good urban life.

Ulrik Winge then reminded us the frame that is established with the architectural politic. Because it is a frame, giving guidelines and purposes for the design of the city space. It should be a tool for communication between parties. It sets objectives for four aspects:
  1. the IDENTITY or speciality of Copenhagen : what is special about the city? What is to be kept or to be developped?
  2. the ARCHITECTURE of Copenhagen : in order to become the world's environmental metropole in 2025, the architecture of the city should enhance environmental-friendly using behaviour, diversity and identification of the people to their city and city part and it should work on every scale and level.
  3. the URBAN SPACE in Copenhagen : by setting focus on the city life, then the spaces and finally the buildings (and not the other way around) the city should be more behaviour inviting -not forcing- and a new expectation set on the clever examination of borders -from public to private for instance.
  4. the PROCESSES : it is important to know how to get to the results and to inlighten the projects and demands from every side and with help of every concerned discipline.
The four following speakers were invited in order to boost and spice up the debat. Ulla Tofte underlined that Copenhagen was made first of all of Københavner, the inhabitants : they are the core of the city and should be given more opportunities and tools in order to get involved into the city's shaping. If the city should be for its people then it should be made by the people, just as history shows it in great projects such as Brumleby, Kartoffelrækkerne, Christiania or other projects brought onto the municipality by the citizens!

Martin Keiding expressed his perception of Copenhagen's identity being the light vs the tranquil darkness -or tusmørke- and the background architecture. This last part is represented by the typical carré typology of red bricks and big windows or by old warehouse or factory buildings, being a heritage to accept and integrate in the contemporary city.

Simon Harboe was worried about an architecture politic planned for a recreative city, a city for young students, sports and outdoor people, creative freaks and mothers on "maternity vacation", drinking café latte and sitting on benches in the parks. Where is the everyday man, the businessman, the hard working citizen, the tired person doing the grossary before getting home, the traffic jam, the road work and so? And also, are we going to do any statement or correction on Ørestad?

Rasmus Rune was worried about an architecture politic where the word multidisciplinarity doesn't appear in the process thinking, even though the plan shows to be quite multidisciplinary. He insists on the fact that good architecture needs more than good architects today. The city space is so complexe nowadays that other disciplines have to be integrated in the thinking and conceiving processes, as well as the citizens. In order to allow innovation, the citizens need to be concerned with the project from the very beginning of it. That need a clearer paragraph in the architecture politic.

Afterwards, the debat took place between speakers and the public. Several questions were brought on about Ørestad. Is it a flop or not? Where are the faults? What can we learn from them?

Another point was the difference between plan and reality when it comes to life, diversity and economical accessibility in a new city part. Even if visions and objectives can be established, how is the municipality or the politicians to control it? There is an economic reality of standing and market that results in a waterfront occupied by the most well-off citizens. The same situation happens in many renovated city parts: the gentrification spreads. Nothing can be done unless enhancing the opportunity for commercial activities and social diversity -by heights and sizes legislated by local plans.

Questions about connections were arised also. What about biking bridges and connexions obstructing the houseboat traffic and security ? What about connections of the new city parts such as Sluseholmen -which still is waiting for a bridge to link it effectively to the city center? What about social network in terms of schools and institutions for disabled or others, that would support diversity in a neighbourhood and traffic exchanges between neighbourhoods?

And the funny questions: how much responsability should be given to citizens -Københavnerne- who are known to be complaining about anything? Wouldn't it slow down some processes -even though their veto has saved the city from some questionable projects, such as the high houses at Krøyers Plads or the Foster skyskraper close by Tivoli?

Finally as conclusion, it was said that Copenhagen could be proud of such an initiative: not many cities actually know and express what they want and where they are moving to, in terms of architecture and urban spaces. Many could really use an architectural politic! Stockholm has been on visit to Copenhagen in order to study the backstage of the architecture politic initiative and the forces behing CopenhagenX initiative. They would like to start such ones too in their homeland. Also I would hope Brussels could have a look to and maybe somehow unite around such an initiative...

That's all for now, folks!

See also the report and comments on http://www.cphx.dk/#/428550/

1 juin 2010

Biking between buildings...

...through Holmbladgade and its many times awarded urban renovation project - Holmbladsgade kvarter løft - down Prags Boulevard and to Amager Beach - Amager Strand Park

Again a guided tour organised by DAC and CopenhagenX !
If you haven't tried them yet, I really recommend them!

This sunday, the theme was around the urban lift, or renovation, that Amager East has been achieving during the past years. The whole process has been very long and slow because it integrated a collaboration with the inhabitants of Amager, right from the beginning. This results in a succesful renovation which is now quite recognised and rewarded abroad: the best metro without conductor, the best metro (both prices received in London) and a price for its lighting plan at the City People Light Award 2004 in Brussels.

Among the renovation projects, you'll find the Holmbladsgade kvarter løft, the Amager Strand park and other ongoing projects. Which were the principle/desires behind the projects?
1 to upgrade the city part energy wise and develop a sustainable city
2 to support the existing maritime look and environment
3 to link the city part to the coast and the sea

Brown fields renewal and industrial heritage: several sites with each their characteristics
It is important for the city part to express such principles since it is part of the process of understanding the identity of the site and its inhabitants. Many parts of Copenhagen are witnessing a renewal or uplift after a period of neglect or just ignorance of their potentials. A great deal of the eastern part of Copenhagen -the artificial islands Refshal island, Margretheholmen, Prøvestenen and Amager- were subject to past industrial functions. Many of them have closed down and left some strange noman's land with old -and beautiful, actually-
buildings and factories. Where Amager was more of a factory location, the three other mentionned islands have hosted heavier industry. The trend tends to move slowly the remaining industrial activities to Prøvestenen and start a rehabilitation of the gained grounds: Refshal island and Magretheholmen are to become, one day, a dense city part with creative functions in an industrial heritage.
Such undertakings has been seen already along the waterfront and in the west of Copenhagen with Kødbyen -the meattown or butcher market- and Carlsberg site -the project was won by Entasis.

The tour starts at the Amagerbro metro station. The square at the exit of the metro has been developped as the metro station was planed there. The metro is a very important link of that city part to the historical city center and to the airport. It allowed to start the renewal because suddenly Amagerbro was somehow closer in the city user's mental map.

Holmbladsgade renewal plan is a combination of square renewals, a lighting plan (it seems it is the first lighting plan integrated to a project and not just added on top...quite revolutionnary for Cph, tells one of the guides) and social projects, such as a library, a sport hall, an activity house for the neighbourhood...It is also a plan integrating one of the "green biking roads" in Cph ( on Prags boulevard) and a strategy of small passages and streets going perpendicularly down to the water. Both of them favorises the light traffic: pedestrians and bikes.

Biking down Prags boulevard...
The bike boulevard has been conceived by the landscape architect studio, Kristine Jensens Tegnestue. It links the city to the waterside and integrates 5 activity zones along the way, being small gardens for the neighbourhood -on the elder people's demand- sport and play grounds, outdoor stage. The urban furniture is mainly lamps and chairs: prager lamper and prager stole. The chairs are movable so that groups of friends can gather for an evenig bbq or a little publicum can get around the stage, etc. (they are made in iron though in order to discourage stealing)

Two main stops to observe two buildings by Dorte Mandrup architects: the neighbourhood house -Kvarterhus- and the multisport hall, also known as the Prism.

The first one is a rehabilitation of an old factory from 1880. This city part is packed with old buildings from a previour industrial life. The renewal isn't just tearing them down, but renovates them and give them a function fiting the present demands of th users. In the Kvarterhus, the slabs have been taken out in order to give free height to entrance part and link all functions by around that one space. A wooden structure with niches has been applied onto the facade, functionning as windows between in and out, esthetic and atmosphere bringing to the outside terrasse and -I suspect it but without certainty- a structural role of support for the "slab-free facade". The most known part of the project is the extension at the back: a room for gathering, discussing, meeting...made of wood and glass and a huge bookshelf on the inner side.

The second one, Prismen, closes of a typical "carré" by stretching out the three gables into a huge volume. This method allows more light into the existing backyards than if the "carré" just was closed with buildings of same height. The inner organisation isas described: the ground floor serves sprots such as soccer, handball, volley, etc., while the plateaus higher up are used for observation, gathering or just less space demanding activities such as combat sports, yoga, meditaion. The facade is translucent, revealing to the outside what is happening inside -especially when it is lit at night.
I call the two projects social because they are meant to create a safe frame where young people can exercice and use their energy in a constructive way.

The undone projects...
The citizens have favoured many projects but also layed down veto for too ambitious or "crazy" proposals. Nevertheless they are steps in a greater reflexion on the city, how it functions and how it could look like...
One of those projects, and maybe one of the most discussed, is Kløvermarken. It is a huge green field for soccer and outdoor sport. Many discussions have occured about should it stay as it is -a big outdoor green ground for free recreative use- or should it be built and integrated to the city? When the politician Rit Bjergaard suggested that Cph needed 5000 more housings at a fair price of 5000 DKK -the 5000 til 5000 suggestion- Bjarke Ingels Group came up with the idea to build the perimeter of the field up to a wall of housings. The existing sport fields would be kept in the center and the built frame would work its way up and down depending on the surroun dings and the access to the green center. Politicians were seduced on that rapid and effective answer, but citizens got frighten. The project were never fulfilled but the idea was tremendous, in my opinion (check out on big.dk, KLM 2006).
Since then Vandkunsten has come with another proposal but nothing is sure yet about who or even if there'll be a project there.

Strandlodsvej and Lergravsvej
Still very marked by the ancient functions, this part contrasts strongly with the first visited part.
Here also the metro pops up from its otherwise underground path, creating a dividing wall in the landscape. This less succesful part is at the origin of groups such as the "Metro group" which aims to learn from those mistakes and rectify it by the best means. Again the citizens show to be very active in the making of their city.

The gaz silo, emblem to Amager and its industrial heritage - its is to be preserved and rehabilitated somehow. The municipality is currently trying to find the funds for it. Many examples of rehabilitated silos can be found in Cph. To name only some of them: the Gemini Residence (grain silo from the soya factories in Havnestaden - check out the harbour tour with DAC), the gas silo in Lyngby and the gas silo in Valby. And talking energy, two giant windmills will be established along the shore here and should provide Cph with electricity.

And there lies the sea...
Amager strand park was inaugurated in 2005. Before that the beach wasn't very bathing-friendly: the low waters made it difficult to enjoy a swim or any kind of activity and the so-called beach was more like a sandy grass field. Hasløv & Kjærsgaard Arkitektfirma are behind the project: a 2 kilometers long sand island which pushes the beach part further out and creates recreation lagunes. Connected by bridges, ponctuated by a few concrete bungalows, the island becomes a part of the strandpromenade. Pedestrians and bikers can now enjoy the rich natur - especially the flora-, the panorama view over the Øresund and the crossing ferry traffic. Sports like kite-surfing and wind-surfing are very popular here. Children and amateurs bath and play from the inner beach, in the lagunes, as the professional sportsmen engage with the waves on the exposed side of the island.Amager strand park is also the host for one of the oldest winter bathing club: Helgoland. The club buildings had to be put down during the realisation of the project but have been rebuilt now.

A maritime environment
One of the most published projects must be the Maritime Youth Club, designed by PLOT (BIG+JDS), inaugurated in 2004. A waving wooden deck, under the corners of which class room and workshop spaces have been built, as well as space for storing canoës and kayaks. The remarkable points with this project is how every m² is used and how the architects turned a strong site pollution issue into a boosting element for the shaping of the project. As I mentionned earlier, this city part hosted heavy industry in its early days. This caused heavy metal ground pollution. Digging into the ground would disturb the stability and enhance the pollution effect. Plus, it would cost a great deal to move the polluted earth. So the deck sollution -building over ground- allowed to concentrated the budget on responding to the neighbourhood's needs and avoid a "pollution revival". The deck allows also to profit of m² under and over it. Again the prupose with the project was to give a social and safe frame for kids to use their energy on a constructive way, instead of hanging around and even maybe cause damages.

picture taken 01/01/10 - the deck is very slippery then: take care! I fell badely...

Another maritime project is the beautiful Kastrup søbad -Kastrup sea baths- designed by White Arkitekter and inaugurated in 2005. Like a wooden snail, the protecting wall grows from some 1,5 to 8 meters high and incorporates wooden benches, stairs at different heights, jumping planks at different heights, changing rooms...Accessibility for handicaped was thought as a ramp down to the water (though they would need help to come up and down). The lighting is soft and comes from under/behind the wooden planks giving a warm and smooth glow to the whole project. Definitely one of my favourites since I saw it first time at my arrival to Cph.

Coming soon, the new aquarium designed by 3XN will be situated just a bit more south from the Kastrup see baths. Den Blå Planet -blue planet- will be like a snail or mill with intertwining pools and tunnels for a very special underwater effect...I really look forward to see it realised!

Here ends our tour and it is time to go home and get a good warm cup of tea and crowl out of our wet clothes! Yes, it was raining most of the tour but who cares when the architecture and projects are so interesting and the guide competent!

Moderne overraskelse på vejen - Modern surprise on the way...

En dejlig dag, lørdag... efter en god dags arbejde gik jeg mig en tur ned til vandet for at nyde aktiviteten og atmosfæren ved Svanemøllens sejlklub.

På vejen fik jeg øje på dette moderne byggeri. Jeg må sige igen: modernismen har integreret sig godt i det danske ladnskab og virker mere vellykket end andre steder. Diskret og nydeligt. Der er noget ved de hvide murer og sobre linjer som passer godt til den danske himmel og kyst.

Et andet bevis på dette er de smukke bygninger af Arne Jakobsen ved Klampenborg og den smukke benzin station - ja, hvem vil tro en bezin station kunne være smuk? Jeg skal nok sørge for nogle illustrationer næste gang jeg kommer forbi den, så i kan se hvad jeg mener.

Ind til da, kan i nyde min lille lørdags opdagelse her...