We have visited Copenhagen during few gloomy wintry days back in January, where traces of snow were still visible around the street edges, building roofs and laid over grass patches. Despite all that miserable weather, there was life and liveliness on the streets. We decided to embrace the Copenhagenisation and rented the typical, Dutch bikes.
When we couldn’t bare the cold no longer, we have popped into the Danish Architecture Centre. It was celebrating work of two pioneering designers: Ove Arup – Anglo-Danish engineer and philosopher behind iconic projects such as the Sydney Opera House, the London Zoo’s Penguin Pool and the Pompidou Centre; and Jørn Utzon mostly known for the design of the Sydney Opera House with a design style that can be described as personal, sculptural and quite unique of its time. We were the most impressed with the Langelinie Pavilion idea, inspired by nature yet sadly not realised.
“The true innermost being of architecture can be compared with that of nature’s seed, and something of inevitability of nature’s principle of growth ought to be a fundamental concept in architecture.”
We have cycled through the pedestrian and cyclist friendly Cirkelbroen situated directly opposite the shiny, black mirror at the harbour front – the Black Diamond (the Royal Library). We have ventured into the Harborough and through the joyful and playful Kalvebod Waves. We saw impressive public squares such as the Israeli Square, the City Dune and the Nørreport Station. We have experienced the incidental pocket parks of Guldbergs Plads, Guldberg Byplads and Charlotte Ammundsens Plads. But most of all, we have enjoyed the radical urban park of Superkilen with its octopus slide, meandering patterns and a mix of random looking items – all carefully designed to please the local population. Straight after we have entered our moods have been uplifted, we felt joy, surprise and happiness – what a place, even in full swing of winter!
This wasn’t enough, we needed to see BIG creations and ventured slight of the main city attractions. But firstly, we have stumbled upon the Tietgenkollegiet in the Ørestad district. This student hall has a conspicuous circular shape, inspired by traditional southern Chinese Hakka architecture and is designed by Danish architects Lundgaard & Tranberg in 2006. We were well impressed by the circular courtyard with massive Larch trees inside. Its concept focuses on encouragement of personal and social development of the students.
Then, there is the Mountain by BIG. A cascade of terrace housing with amazing roof gardens facing the sun, give access to fresh air and views. Categorised as suburban living with urban density – couldn’t be more true here.
And finally, the one and only – 8 Tallet what a gem! The idea that the public can access its main access path and visitors are invited to roam through the structure is mind bobbling. You can park your bike in the expansive cycle lot, taste the amazing food from the cafe and enjoy the spectacular surrounding views of the land and wildlife with views extending to Sweden! If we were ever to move to Copenhagen this would be the location for FRUS to inhabit.
Before we said goodbyes to this amazing city, we had one last node to tick. The off-shore Kastrup Sea Baths in the Øresund Sound. This is a truly magical place, even in winter (no one was swimming and we were also not that brave to take the plunge). Cycling through the Amager Beach Park was a unique experience. The two kilometre long artificial lagoon with sandy dunes and vast amount of grasses gives a feeling of an escape, tranquillity and connectedness to nature. The impressive Øresundsbroen bridge that connects Denmark and Sweden is also visible from the beach.
So, the question arises: What makes this city a model of inspiration and an urban power house?
Is it its architecture of big ideas – the harmonious clash between an old medieval city heart and the new, sometimes radical designs?
Is it its habitable scale and human centric urban planning?
Or is it the balance between cars and bikes mixed with Scandinavian pragmatism that gives this city an edge and is named as a ‘laboratory of big ideas’?