our scan|design group spent last weekend in nykøbing, north sjælland, where our mentor has a wonderful summer home. the best parts of the trip: bringing bikes on trains and ferries, smørrebrød, a sunny beach, cooking and eating with friends, and taking a break from thesis at the lovely ‘oasen.’ below is a selection of my favorite photos from the trip (photos 6, 9, 16, 22 + 24 courtesy heather burpee – thanks!).


our student group inside sjakket’s basketball court building

for our second bicycle-tour field trip, my ‘body culture in urban space’ class visited some different sports and culture facilities in nørrebro, a neighborhood north of the city center that is home to a concentration of different ethnic groups (and that seems to be just at the beginning of a gentrification cycle). we had a beautiful biking day – bright and sunny, and there were people using the outdoor spaces that we visited. having seen six or seven different sports and culture facilities in just two copenhagen neighborhoods makes me realize what a priority this combination of activities (and this type of facility) is in this city. the buildings that we visited are all fairly new, and seem to have been projects in which the designers felt comfortable pushing the boundaries of ‘normal’ urban architecture – perhaps inspired by the intended use of the buildings? – and this definitely makes them feel like energetic and active spaces. we visited three projects on this tour (and rode through nørrebro park, but i was unable to get off my bike and take photos). as in the post about our first field trip, the italicized text is lifted from the course flier, and my own comments are in ‘normal’ type.


#1: Korsgadehallen (BBP Architects, 2006)

“The project is based on two main concepts – an indoor and an outdoor concept, that corresponds to a united whole. The indoor concept is to create an indoor ‘village green’ or ‘common’ for different sport and cultural activities. The Centre for Sport and Culture (Korsgadehallen) consists of a large central area with the necessary dimensions for different playing fields, handball, volleyball, badminton etc. This central space is encircled by a sequence of minor spaces with different characters: the open alcove, the balcony, the staircase, the closed dancing hall, the free standing wall bar, the small niche for a break, the glass facade etc. The construction is made of steel beams that are placed at slightly different angles hereby creating an irregularity enhancing the ‘cave concept.’ This irregular space also creates an informal atmosphere and expresses movement and multi-functionality. The keywords are daylight, transparency and flexibility hereby creating a connection between the different activities and users and a connection between indoor and outdoor areas. The outdoor concept is to cover the ‘indoor village green’ with a new landscape – a green hill for activities and recreation. To make this possible the playing field is placed in a level 3.5 m under street level. This new urban landscape – a ‘village green’ lifted 9 m above the street level is enriched by the evening sun 1-2 hours longer than the same area on the street level.”

i really liked that the roof of this building can be used – and was being used – by a group of school children while we were visiting. the mound/cave concept seems to fit rather well with the idea of a sports center, and it makes the experience of the building more active, as you are always climbing up or down to enter/exit it. the split-level interior also enhances the ‘buried’ quality of the building and was surprisingly well-lit and not dark or cave-like. one of the architects from bbp gave us a tour of korsgadehallen and told us that non-sports activities like concerts and flea markets happen on the gym floor, so it’s not strictly a sports facility. because of the building’s location in nørrebro, a somewhat socially distraught neighborhood, it sometimes suffers from vandalism of the glass windows. we didn’t really get a straight answer from the designer about how the building might be better integrated into the community, but at least our discussion highlighted how important this part of the building process is – that is, ‘selling’ the building, or the idea of the building, to the surrounding community so that a feeling of shared ownership and respect for the space might be established.


#2: Multi Square (Morten Wassini/House Arkitekter, 2006

The Multi Square at the corner of Ravnsborgade and Skt. Hans gade is used for playing, sports and local cultural events. The square is primarily designed for kids and young people, but the vision was to rethink the playground concept by creating an exciting urban space, which can attract other groups of age and interest too. The central element of the square is a playing field for basketball, hockey etc. The field is defined by a steel and wood construction. Along one side spectators can settle down and on the other side a scene gives space for local theatre and music events. The square also offers a ramp-landscape for skateboarding.”

i love the simplicity of this project. it’s basically a white square painted on a wall (as a screen for projecting movies or images) and a very spare concrete playing field surrounded by a low wall. there were several kids using it when we stopped by, for soccer as well as for sitting and texting friends and skateboarding. it’s not at all institutional (like most of the other projects we visited) and is out in the open, which makes it feel very inviting and public. it really feels as if it belongs to the neighborhood and not to an organization. it’s interesting to compare this park to prags boulevard, a similarly simple (though larger – and evidently less successful) project in the holmbladsgade neighborhood.


#3: Sjakket (BIG and JDS Architects, 2007)

“Sjakket is a rough oasis in the city – a refuge for children and young people, where they are coached by engaged adults, who gives them help and support. The renovation of the former industrial building took place with respect for the existing qualities of the place, emphasizing the rough atmosphere. The renovated building is adapted to suit the activities of Sjakket and other local needs. The complex exists of two curved spaces – the inside was taken out and only the rough concrete walls, columns, bricks and steel curves were left. A long red container is placed on top of the two curved halls.”

this building seemed like an inspiring place for disenfranchised youth – it’s got PLOT’s trendy-funky signature style and has a very ‘young’ and active feeling to it. it’s brand new, having just opened in november, but the employees seem to be happy with it so far (there were no kids there on the day we visited). the two main halls are reused factory buildings that are now joined by a roof deck and a salvaged (and certainly repainted) shipping container that bridges the rooftops. this project makes good use of color – inside the cherry-red shipping container is a studio for recording rap music (painted entierly in bright magenta), while the basketball court has windows in different shades of pink and the boxing/kickboxing room is vivid turquoise. the different colors (besides being kind of fun) help to distinguish the different spaces and give them each a specific characteristic and quality of light.

pirates of the north

April 23, 2008

this boat, the ‘rana,’ sits in front of the museum. it was built in northern norway in 1892 and is known as one of the ‘last vikings’ because of the shape of its hull and its square sail (not shown here).

although the cathedral in roskilde was spectacular, the highlight of the trip was definitely the viking ship museum – both because it was just a great museum overall and also because of my irrational love of all things pirate, which now includes the norse marauders. i hadn’t really equated vikings with pirates before this trip, but as i learned at the museum, ‘viking’ was actually the word that described pirates in england and scandinavia initially (though it eventually expanded in meaning to include the entire period of viking history and the general viking way of life). so. pirates of the north. y’arrrrr!

the main museum building was built to house the remains of five original viking ships that date back to the 11th century as well as a handful of supporting exhibits about the life and times of the viking. the five ships were recovered from roskilde fjord (on the shores of which the town and museum are located), where they had been sunken, or ‘scuttled,’ around the year 1070 as part of blockade to close off one of the fjord’s three shipping channels to unwanted visitors. the five boats were preserved in the water and mud of the fjord until they were excavated in 1962.

an archaeological drawing that shows how the five ships were arranged on the floor of the fjord.

the five ships are all different sizes and were used for different purposes – represented in the museum are an ocean-going trading vessel, a coastal trader, a small longship, a large longship, and a fishing boat.

metal framework holds the remaining fragments of the excavated ships – you can see the oar holes in the photo on the right. a few words about the museum building before we move on: i really like the interior space – it’s simple concrete construction with great light, and the entire north side (to the right-hand side of the left-hand photo) is made up of windows overlooking roskilde fjord (so – if you stand on the south side of the museum and look at the ships, you see them silhouetted against the fjord…it’s really nice).

a model of what the small longship would have looked like in viking days.

this is a model of the excellently-named ‘sea stallion from glendalough,’ a reconstruction of the large longship exhibited at the museum. in 2007, the (full-scale) ‘thoroughbred of the sea’ was sailed from roskilde to dublin, where the original ship was built in 1042. the ship will begin the six-week voyage back to roskilde this summer and will receive its official welcome (and what sounds like a giant viking-themed party) at the museum harbour in august.

if you want, you can dress up like a viking and sit in a reconstructed ship (or tempt certain death by handing over the edge as this girl is doing)/or you can just look at the diorama version of the same thing…

view of the viking ship museum from the museum harbour (i liked the inside better than the outside)

the bridge to the museum island, where you can embark on sailing trips around the harbour (yes – in a reconstructed viking vessel) or watch viking shipbuilding in progress in the boatyard

the bridge again/view of the dock and boatyard (see roskilde cathedral looming in the distance)

the boat on the left is the ‘helge ask,’ an oak, pine, and ash reconstruction of a small viking warship from the 11th century. it was built in the museum boatyard in 1991. the boat on the right…i’m not sure what it is, but if you look very carefully, you can see its tiny red pirate flag. ; )

part of the boatyard on the museum island

i kind of liked the architecture of the buildings on the museum island – nothing too fancy, but they seemed to form a nice little maritime-y ‘village.’ the structures house educational facilities as well as both boat-building and archaeological workshops.

here’s the boat-building workshop. this guy is working on a 5.5-meter oak dinghy modeled after an early 20th century norwegian fishing boat…although this one is for sale and is apparently intended for yachting, so it comes without a fishing well…

i thought this boat had the second best name (after ‘sea stallion’) – it’s called the ‘roar edge,’ and is a reconstruction of the small trading ship found at the bottom of the fjord. it has a square sail, though its six oars can be used in harbours or in calm weather.

two more photos of the ‘roar edge’ – you can see the shadow of the prow (left) and the oar openings (right)

this was great – as i was leaving the museum island, i happened to catch the shipbuilders on their lunch break…and was happy to see none other than the jolly roger tacked to the door of their building. pirates, indeed.

roskilde cathedral

April 21, 2008

i took a (wonderful) day off from thesis to go to roskilde, a town about half an hour west of copenhagen by train (some might know it as home to the annual-and-very-famous-in-denmark summertime roskilde festival). i’ve been excited to visit roskilde for two reasons: the cathedral and the viking ship museum – which will get its own post because it was so great. stay tuned for viking ships. so, back to the cathedral…which is very historic, as churches have been constructed on this site for more than 1000 years. the first one was wooden, built by harald bluetooth. the present-day brick gothic/romanesque church has existed in more or less the same form since 1280. and, surprise, it is on unesco’s world heritage list (i think i’m going to make a new category just for all of the unesco sites i’ve visited…done!). it really is a dramatic building – you can see the trademark copper spires from very far away, and the cathedral is situated at the high point of the town, overlooking roskilde fjord. seen from below, it looms over the ridge in a rather imposing sort of way.

view from roskilde’s town hall square of the copper spires in the distance/model i found of the city circa 1400…you can see how the cathedral really dominates the townscape (unfortunately someone has absconded with the trademark copper spires…)

oblique view of the cathedral/cathedral in the distance…view from the beautiful ‘byparken’ that leads down to the fjord

the cathedral is undergoing restoration…it’s getting a new roof over the crossing and new copper roofing on its spires

exterior brick detail/the cathedral square and the side chapels

there is restoration happening on the interior, too/view of the nave

cross-vaulting details

more cross-vaulting…i really liked the painted designs on the ceiling and the contrast of the white surface with dark brick accents

roskilde cathedral is perhaps most famous as the burial place for danish royalty – all kings and most queens have been buried here since the reformation, and many have special individual chapels (left: the tomb of king christian ix and queen louise). and here’s the story behind the mechanical clock (right) from the official cathedral site:

The late 15th century clock with the mechanical figures is unique in Denmark. To the left is the knight Saint George. According to legend, he saved a city in Asia Minor from damnation. A dragon had the city in its thrall and refused to spare it unless it was fed with a virgin every year. Once, when it was the turn of the King’s daughter to be the next victim, Saint George arrived on horseback and slayed the dragon. Being a true saint, he would not accept the princess and half the kingdom as his reward – he had to move on and keep fighting evil elsewhere in the world.

st. george slays the dragon on the hour. it’s pretty cool.

next time…viking ships!

april 16 is the birthday of queen margrethe ii of denmark, and is recognized as a special day. at noon on her birthday, the queen appears on the balcony of amalienborg palace (her residence in copenhagen) to wave to her subjects and admirers as they wish her a happy birthday. this year, queen margrethe turned 68, and appeared on the balcony with her husband (or “prince consort,” as is his official title), henrik, as well as her younger son, prince joachim, his two sons, nikolai and felix, and his fiancée, marie cavallier. the royal family smiled and waved from the balcony for a few moments as the royal guard music corps played birthday songs before retreating back into the palace – but not without two further appearance “encores,” which were met with much cheering and flag-waving. : )

the crowd gathering in the amalienborg palace courtyard as the royal guard marches past

queen margrethe appeared solo first before being joined on the balcony by her family

many people were waving the danish flag (or dannebrog) to celebrate the queen’s birthday

the royal guard music corps playing birthday and other celebratory tunes

no royal danish celebration would be complete without a changing of the guard – because this is a special day, they were wearing their dressy red uniforms

many of the danish kids were really into the celebration (love the tiny soldier outfit) – it seemed that there were many groups of schoolchildren in the crowd, and lots of grandchildren on grandparents’ shoulders : )

bike bucket full of tiny celebrants/i think my favorite was the group of kids wearing little crowns : )  happy birthday, queen margrethe!

more amsterdam!

April 13, 2008

there’s really no such thing as too much amsterdam (not the way i do it, anyway). ; ) at the end of jen’s stay, we visited as another long weekend trip…we had lovely weather and were able to eat frites and stroopwafels to our hearts’ content. i think amsterdam is such a beautiful city, and it was so nice to be able to see it in the springtime, with trees budding and flowers blossoming.

we stayed in the most amazing and best-located hotel (the greenhouse effect, if anyone’s interested)…this is the view from our room! this canal is called the damrak, and it’s right smack in the center of the city, about a two minutes’ walk from amsterdam centraal train station.

each room has a theme…we stayed in ‘tropical paradise,’ so here’s jen and the view inside our room. ; )

the first thing we did was to take a canal tour, which i’ve never done before in amsterdam. it was fun, but difficult to get good photos. above are a refurbished trading ship in front of nemo, and amsterdam centraal train station.

this is the first of the ‘seven bridges’ in amsterdam…a famous scenic viewpoint

some canal sights…duck on a green houseboat roof/fancy canalside mansion

we took a walk through the vondelpark, amsterdam’s most well-known park

jen at the vondelpark gate/jen on the canal

we also visited the ‘hollandse manege,’ a dutch riding school modeled after the spanish riding school in vienna

riding lesson in progress

here’s me clearly enjoying a fun blue hammock chair i found…if it’s still on sale when i go back, it may have to come home with me…/and a colorful bike-graffitti-scene

typical view with canalside cafe seating : )

fo guang shan he hua,’ a buddhist temple in amsterdam’s chinatown/ typical canalside houses – one with a stepped gable next to a comparatively plain warehouse-style gable (click here for a web guide to amsterdam’s many and various gables)

an ad for febo, a dutch ‘automatic snack’ institution (which perhaps i’ll blog about in more detail next time i visit)/modern (and blue!) architecture in a traditional neighborhood, complete with requisite furniture hooks

souvenir magnets provide an alternative gable tutorial

cph zoo

April 10, 2008

jen and cat and i visited the copenhagen zoo last saturday, which was really fun.  it’s been a long time since i’ve been to the zoo.  i have to come clean – i was secretly hoping to see the new elephant house designed by foster and partners, but unfortunately it won’t be open until june.  we did get to see it under construction, but no (real) elephants were present (see photos).  we did get to see lots of fun animals – i think the butterfly house and the hippos (the latter were too difficult to photograph) were my favorite.  and the ice cream.  anyway…photos:

monkey mountain!

jen feeds the elephants…

red ibises and the penguin pond

jen and i analyze the red ibises, each in our own way…

hungry cats

the butterfly house was amazing!

pink flamingos (i don’t think i’ve ever had to pluralize that before…and i hope i never have to again)

cat with toucan digits/signpost in the petting zoo area

zebras and gazelles graze together

the giraffes were very, very tall – i could have walked right under the taller one in the photo to the left

the airstream-trailer-zoo-sushi-bar

and last but not least: kissing llamas…aww…