Locked Out.

07.21.2011 § 1 Comment

Saturday was a nice change to the typical weather I have had (overcast, rainy, similar to Seattle), so I biked around to a few places I had wanted to see: a flea market, a couple of new buildings and the harbor baths. Unfortunately, it was mostly a view of the outside of the buildings…

The Frederiksberg flea market is one of the larger ones in the Copenhagen and made a nice loop of places to see, so I thought it would be a good choice. It is similar to flea markets I went to growing up, only more Danish (nicer stuff, no guns or Nascar). No great finds, but worth visiting again especially since it borders Frederiksberg Have (giant park).

Vesterbro Ungdomsgårds Bevægelseshus

Next up was the Vesterbro Youth Centre, which was I wanted to see because it was a space that was accessible to everyone and could accommodate a variety of events; conceived of as “a place for young and old, native Danes and new immigrants.” There was nothing going on that day, so the center was locked. Luckily it has glazing along the courtyard, so it is pretty transparent.

The hall was finished in 2005 and was designed by Rådgivende Ingeniører og Arkitekter (RIA).  The building is an addition to the existing 1958 structure and the entire project was motivated by the ability to accommodate the needs of the community, so everything is mobile or movable. The main volume is fairly simple in that it is an extrusion with a repetitive structure. What I found interesting was the system of shutters that spanned from floor to ceiling to control both the lighting and acoustics of the gym/theater/gathering space.

Fairly simple in design, it has some nice qualities that show a nice attention to detail. The integration of the shutter system, a series of doors that open the building up to the courtyard, windows places well for passive ventilation, and the stack vents outside the building that seem pretty common here. One thing I thought was interesting was a grate that lined the mezzanine floor allowing for access to the systems beneath (not the most glamorous detail, but a nice approach). Of course the façade leaves something to be desired…


Because it was sunny, I figured it would be worth seeing the Harbor Baths. I biked past the baths everyday when I was here last time, so had some idea of what was there. Unfortunately, with all the rains the water quality is bad right now, so the red flag was up and no one was in the water. Even locked out of the harbor, unless you were an a boat. (Below is an image of it in all its glory when the red flags are not flying.)

The baths are part of a larger landscape, the Harbor Park, which is a huge park lining the waterfront with a number of sitting areas, playgrounds and pavilions. The facility was completed in 2002 and was a landmark because it completed the cleanup of the harbor from a shipping artery to public amenity. It was designed by PLOT, back when BIG and JDS were one.

The driving idea was that of a passenger ship deck: an elongated rectangle with long wooden promenades resembles the deck of a passenger ship, the diving tower is the ship’s prow and the lifeguard tower its smokestack. The structure rests on pontoons and has a variety of regular pools, wading pools and diving pools with the “prow” that can be used as a 3m or 5m platform for diving.

While it was difficult to assess the baths this visit, past experiences attest to the success and use of the pools. It would be interesting to compare how well the baths and the park work together because it seems like they may operate more as separate entities due to the pervasive fencing (required to control occupancy). Not that it is a bad thing, just two different experiences. The park is pleasant in its own rite with the raised grassy areas for sitting and grilling (and playing Kubb), the basketball court/skate ramp, and the various benches and cafes. I am fairly impressed with the success of the raised lawns and how they function as a device to accentuate the paths and then as benches, particularly along the water. I am unsure whether this was simply a landscape element or whether it is part of a capping solution for what was once an industrial site (evident in some of the reused tracks).

I also recently found a nice article on the lifeguard towers in Arkitekter DK, which were commissioned by the government and designed by BBP Architects. The towers are present at many public swimming beaches, and are a nice solution. Each of the colored stripes delineates a separate compartment and they are all temporary in nature, although the ones at the harbor baths are permanently installed.

Krystallen and SEB Bank & Pension

I will lump the last two together since they are basically pretty pictures of iconic buildings that I had read about. The first one was under construction during my last visit and had an amazing steel frame, which is barely visible behind the double façade. It is an extension to the Nykredit headquarters across the street, known as the Glass Cube for some reason (this also has a double façade, but much less intricate). Both were designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen Architects (SHL), with the plaza done by SLA who also did the Bananna Park. The building touches the ground in three places and is surrounded by a giant plaza that sometimes has walls of water and lights. When I saw it, I most taken by the number of cameras on lightposts. Maybe it is more engaging during the workweek, but there is no place to sit and it is hard to imagine how the plaza would actually be used (perhaps that is the point). And here are the pretty pictures:

The other building (actually 2) is the SEB Bank and Pension headquarters designed by Tranberg and Lundgaard. When Lene Tranberg lectured at UW this past year, this was the third project she talked about, and I remembered most that it had a curved façade and a concrete landscape (accurate). She also talked about wanting the local skate population to use it. It seems like they are, or have occasionally at least. It was not nearly as engaging as the business school, but, given that it is not a public building, makes some sense. The landscape itself was a bit disappointing, not particularly inviting or interesting. I guess it is better than the car park it covers, but similar to the other building is a bit lacking in how it engages the public. And more pretty pictures:


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