chr.havn canal

February 27, 2008


the christianshavn (abbreviated chr.havn on the boats that dock here) canal is one of the only remaining canals in copenhagen…it makes the neighborhood feel kind of amsterdam-y. the harbour tours pass through regularly to see the cute old buildings bordering the canal, as well as the boats (some houseboats, i think) moored along its edge.










jægersborg water tower

February 18, 2008


this is a really fun conversion project by my favorite danish architecture firm, dorte mandrup arkitekter. it’s out in gentofte (a northern suburb of copenhagen), a former water tower nestled among two freeways and a rail line. the firm won a competition to turn the tower into low-cost housing for vocational students. there are apartment units all around the perimeter of the tower, and the firm added the crystal-shaped bays for better views from the units, and also so that it would be easier for the residents to furnish what would have otherwise been very oddly-shaped rooms.  i would definitely live here.


looking up at the water tower


it is right next to the train platform…


the lower levels house a youth center…and i really like the rooster topper : )


kronborg slot

February 14, 2008


last weekend, i went with some friends to helsingør (about 45 minutes north of copenhagen by train, and maybe better known to some as shakespeare’s “elsinore”) to see kronborg slot, the castle featured in “hamlet.” this is yet another unesco world heritage site – i feel like i’ve been to lots lately. or maybe it’s just because i’ve been researching unesco policy for thesis. anyway, i digress. let’s see more castle:


the entrance to the castle – clearly, if we were danes, we would have had our bikes, too.


what many people don’t know about kronborg slot is that it is fiercely guarded by swans (with nasty, sharp, pointy…beaks)


entrance to the interior ramparts/the inner courtyard of the castle, where summer performances of hamlet are staged outdoors – that would be fun to see!


some architectural details from the courtyard – kronborg slot is, according to its homepage, “both an elegant renaissance castle and a monumental military fortress surrounded by major fortifications with bastions and ravelins


a display on the castle interior about the history of hamlet – the character of the danish prince is fictional and was created by shakespeare, but was loosely based on amled of norse legend


interior of one of the “royal compartments”/one of the king’s tapestries


ceiling painting detail


a (plastic) meal fit for a king!/a royal-table-canopy


there was even some authentic(?) fencing going on in the ballroom…i’m sure that’s what it was used for between parties…


definitely the highlight of the castle interior was the children’s room with its giant bin of legos. check out the scan|design fellows immersing themselves in the danish cultural tradition of lego building (yes, legos are danish!)


we also visited the castle’s chapel


beautiful carved chapel details


ok, back to the exterior. the castle has an impressive moat and some beefy battlements. click here for a pdf map of the grounds with some cool info about the site.


view of the castle from the helsingør side/view from the beach side


view across the castle wall and the øresund to helsingborg, in sweden, on the other side. helsingør is the closest point in denmark to sweden (see ferry in the distance), but i think there’s no bridge here because it’s a really busy shipping lane. anyway, that’s all for our lovely day in helsingør! vi ses!!

germany in january: lübeck

February 10, 2008


the holstentor, lübeck’s trademark structure and one of the two remaining main gates to the medieval city

the last stop on my germany trip was lübeck, a small town in northern germany that i learned about when i was a ta for brian mclaren’s renaissance, gothic and romanesque architectural history class. the city was for several hundred years the head of the hanseatic league of cities and is now a unesco world heritage site, celebrated for its historical importance for european trade and its fine examples of brick gothic architecture. it’s also supposedly the european birthplace of marzipan (not sure what that means, because i think it’s originally from asia) – so there are lots of marzipan shops, yum. i also learned while i was there that three nobel prize winners are from lübeck – thomas mann, willy brandt, and günter grass, so it’s steeped in history, significance, and confection. lübeck is really close to the danish border, so i thought that this would be a good chance to visit. it was really fun, and i think that the three cities i chose made a really good assortment of travel/architectural/urban interest destinations. the train ride back from lübeck to copenhagen was excellent, as the train i was on actually boarded a ferry (yep, tracks right onto the boat…it was a short train) to cross the sound between puttgarden and rødby. awesome. i put a couple of photos at the end of the post in which i tried to capture the ferry-boarding experience.


another view of the holstentor, the main southern gate (there used to be four gates; two remain today). this is how i entered the medieval city coming from the train station. also a detail shot of the gate.


some of that fine brick gothic architecture


the medieval city is surrounded by a moat and a lovely ring of moatside park area


looking from the medieval city toward lübeck’s port facilities


here is the other remaining (north) gate, the burgtor. both of the gates were built in the 1400s – the model in the foreground shows how it used to look with its portcullis…!


the main city square, with the town hall in the background; the large circular holes in the upper facades allow for improved wind resistance, so that the buildings won’t be blown over.


i believe (if i remember correctly from architectural history) that the gold emblems on the rathaus facade represented different merchant guilds, and show the importance of trade to the city. the photo on the right is a view of the “back” side of the rathaus.


thursday market in the main square/a small bronze model of the medieval city


the niederegger marzipan shop – a treasure trove of delicious almond-flavored desserts. there was an impressive marzipan recreation of lübeck’s architectural icons in the front window.


the side stairs leading up to lübecker dom, the city’s main catherdral


twin spires of lübecker dom


a wet lübeck cityscape (left)/and one more view of the cathedral (right)


some fun details – arches over the tiny streets, and the ‘kaak,’ a small pavilion in the main square


the st. jacobi church and square


some examples of the red brick gothic architecture


i liked how the scaffolding followed the shape of the facade on this building : ) (a tectonic-tourist moment)


ok, here are the train photos that i promised. it was a little difficult to capture, but in the photo on the left, you can see the train approaching the ferry through the window, and then on the right is when i had to get off the train once it was on the ferry for the duration of the crossing. kind of like bringing your car on the bainbridge ferry…but not quite.

germany in january: hamburg

February 7, 2008


the speicherstadt warehouse district in hamburg

all right, i’m slowly catching up. so after berlin, i took the train to hamburg. i didn’t really know what to expect, but i was very pleasantly surprised – i could have spent days taking photos! : ) i’ve seen conflicting reports saying that hamburg is the second-largest port in europe (antwerp also claims the title, the largest being rotterdam). in any case, it was definitely a city on the water, with the incredible speicherstadt (the old brick shipping warehouse district), the new hafencity residential development along the elbe, and a series of canals in the medieval quarter that connect to the inner alster, a pretty lake in the middle of the city. i wish i could have spent a little more time here, but i’m definitely glad that i at least had a chance to stop. i would definitely recommend hamburg as a northern european destination!


the speicherstadt district is the largest warehouse complex in the world – the buildings are so tall and narrow that they almost look like ships in the water


they were really beautifully detailed, and all of the warehouse “islands” were connected with ornate bridges; the german tourist bureau tells me that these buildings are excellent examples wilhelminian brick gothic architecture, which i don’t know that i’ve seen before…? maybe i just didn’t know that the classification existed…


hamburg is supposed to have more bridges over water than does venice…after crossing (and photographing) what felt like most of them, i’d have to agree : )


one of the more modern “warehouses”(/parking garages) on the right…


new construction and infrastructural improvements in the speicherstadt to connect it to the new hafencity area


okay, moving on to something slightly more modern. this is the new herzog & demeuron-designed opera house in progress (is every european waterfront city putting up a new opera? copenhagen, oslo, hamburg…) they’re actually in the process of gutting an old warehouse building, upon the top of which the new opera will be built. very cool project.


here’s the street that separates the old district (speicherstadt – left) from the new development (hafencity – right). hafencity is HUGE (155 ha.) and is supposed to increase the size of the city center by 40%, plus house around 10,000 residents and provide amenities like the opera, new metro stations, a maritime museum, and a science center/aquarium. whew!


some of the new modern “cube-y” buildings of the hafencity development. that’s china steel on the left.


i really like that the hafencity lampposts mimic the shapes of cranes! there are certainly lots of cranes and other construction paraphernalia in this area, and probably will be for many years…


here’s “the viewpoint,” which allows one to climb up and see all of the hafencity construction from on high! it’s kind of a fun, funky little orange tower. ; )


the view from the viewpoint…that’s the elbe in the background…


okay, moving into the center city…here is some of the canal cityscape (left) and a lovely, angelic building detail (right)


the town hall (or rathaus, in german) is an incredibly beautiful sandstone building, and the main square in front steps down to a canal (right), which in turn opens into the inner alster lake


the ruins of st. nikolai church in central hamburg (bombed during wwii and nicely preserved as a memorial)


more of st. nikolai: the carillon/partial view of the ruins from the “interior” of the church


another view of the st. nikolai tower; the angel statue in front of the church that i really liked


a view of a slightly more modern central hamburg and canal


hamburgers (hehe! i’ve been waiting to say that…i should have taken more photos with people in them) enjoying dusk on the edge of the inner alster. if i ever go back to hamburg for longer, i’m going to rent a bike and ride around the city’s lakes…


February 3, 2008


fastelavn is the danish version of carnival/mardi gras, and is appropriately a very family-oriented holiday (just as the danes seem to be a very family-oriented people). it’s actually kind of like halloween – children dress up in costumes, decorate festive bouquets of beech twigs and beat the crap out of a barrel that historically contained a black cat (cover your ears, lester!!), but in modern times contains candy, a less cruel and controversial alternative. it was fun to see the danish version of this holiday, and i got to see a few different fastelavn activities (including the barrel-beating above):


the national museum in copenhagen hosted a ‘fastelavnsfest’ (note the image on the poster)


first, there was lots of gathering of children in the atrium and decorating of the beech twig bundles


there were some pretty cute costumes, and parents were very involved (and some costumed themselves)


more cute costumes…and my favorite, a pirate! arrrr…


evidently it was very important to fasten lots of brightly colored feathers and scraps of tissue paper to one’s bundle of twigs, as well as a carnival mask and a cutout of a paper cat


then everyone marched upstairs with their festive implements to the barrel-beating room! there was one barrel for each age group, and the kids lined up behind them and took turns whacking them with sticks…


kids waiting their turn at the barrel/one child takes a running approach


more barrel-beating


and finally, the candy! the barrel-beating doesn’t have the fun or danger of the blindfold (as with piñatas), but those barrels are pretty tough, and it took a long time for the kids to beat them apart. the kid who breaks the barrel open is supposed to become the ‘kattedronning,’ or queen of cats, and whoever breaks apart the last piece hanging from the rope becomes ‘kattekonge,’ or king of cats. that all goes back to the black cat thing i mentioned earlier…


also, yesterday, i was having coffee with friends in christianshavn, and this group stopped outside our cafe:


i’m pretty sure this was associated with fastelavn (a very nice old man tried to explain it to me, and he mentioned the children/costumes/barrels, also). anyway, it was a group on horseback from the riding school hopping from cafe to cafe…


the parade of horses drew some costumed children (love the toothpaste costume!!)…and they – the riders – did some singing…


after which it is traditional for the owner of the cafe to serve fastelavn buns (which i tried at the bakery, and, like all danish pastry, they are delicious) and mulled wine to the riders…


the proprietor serving wine/horses all gussied up

i think they had been to a fair number of cafes at this point…and they seemed to be having an awesome time. luckily, there was no falling off of the horses. ; ) happy fastelavn, all!! may you have many feathers in your branch bouquet, and may your wine be mulled!

germany in january: berlin

February 1, 2008


the berlin central station (hauptbahnhof)

i decided to go on one more travel before classes start in copenhagen next week…so i took a short trip south to germany, flying into berlin and taking trains (and a train on a ferry!! you’ll have to wait for the post to hear more about that one) back to copenhagen via hamburg and lübeck. it was a really fun trip, and i got to see an amazing amount of stuff (and taking an equally amazing number of photos) in just a few days. so here’s the first installment:


the new berlin hauptbahnhof was definitely the architectural highlight of the city. it opened in may of 2006, so it’s new since the last time i visited berlin…and i even got to use it when i took the train from berlin to hamburg! since it’s such a cool building, it gets extra photos on this post (above is a view from the north)…


the south entrance/interior shot


another interior shot of one of the main facades/facade detail


another view from the south, looking across the spree


walking along unter der linden, berlin’s central boulevard


looking north along the spree to museum island


this scene reminded me a bit of china…


colorful grafitti and street food


this guy was wondering what the heck i was taking a photo of – that’s what i get for being a tectonic tourist. heheh. i just liked the way that the remains of the facade keep the street wall while hiding the surface parking from the street – i see this a lot in europe, and i think it’s a nice way to deal with having a parking lot on the street.


cool outdoor mirror installation at the german architectural center (daz)


the engelbecken, a really beautiful sunken pond and boulevard park that i happened upon – the ruins of michaelkirch are in the background


i didn’t know that berlin and l.a. were sister cities…cool.


a foggy, foggy tv tower at alexanderplatz/a break in the wall


the obligatory shot of the sony center roof/sony center interior at potsdamer platz


checkpoint charlie


old architecture in the mitte/new architecture in the kreuzberg


ferris wheel and some new construction – i really like ferris wheels for some reason..


the holocaust memorial – a very beautiful and powerful space


and two final photos that i just liked: the view between the reichstag and the paul löbehaus/restoration on an unter der linden bridge