field trip: body culture in urban space (1/2)

April 3, 2008

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my classmates on prags boulevard – we rode our bikes from site to site

as part of my “body culture in urban space” seminar, the professor arranged a great field trip to several new projects on amager last week. the course is sponsored by my school’s center for sports and architecture, and is led by prof. réne kural (whose handout i quote extensively below). i think the title is a little enigmatic, so to explain what the seminar is about, here’s an excerpt from the course flier:

“The use of urban space has been under transformation for the last 20 years. There are huge numbers of youngsters (and older – up to seniors) enjoying street-style skating, in liners, jogging, riding, bicycling, etc. This indicates that the city is not just a place for living, working and shopping, but a true pleasure-ground – a place where human movement, emotions and energy is vital for our experience of urban space. In which way will modern planning affect physical activity and how will contemporary body culture influence our life condition in the city? From this perspective, the planning of the future city is a true challenge to architects and politicians.”

it’s a really fun topic, and we have another field trip scheduled for later in april. the five projects we visited last week (below) are all places that i have visited (and blogged) before, but it was nice to see them again from a different perspective. because the course handout put together by prof. kural gave such a nice description of the projects, i just used the handout text below (in italics). my own comments, links, etc. are in ‘normal’ type.

these projects were all part of a neighborhood revitalization program (called ‘kvarterløft‘) in the holmbladsgade area. the various projects we visited were built as part of a strategy to provide high quality recreational and outdoor public spaces that would increase sport and cultural activity in the area while giving the overall quality of life in the area a boost. i’m using the holmbladsgade kvarterløft as a case study in my planning thesis, so this was a really enjoyable field trip for me.

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#1: Prags Boulevard (Kristine Jensen Tegnestue, 2005)

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Prags Boulevard starts at Amagerbrogade and ends with a view of the Øresund. It is a part of the neighbourhood facelift scheme around Holmbladsgade. The main intention was to have a green area with a high utility for people of all ages. This has resulted in seven activity areas that are placed along the main pathway of the park. Names like The Stage, The Pitch and The Ramp refer to the type of activity which takes place here. Along the entire stretch of the park, there have been placed lamps and chairs especially designed for Prags Boulevard. The approximately 100 lamps have a unique yellow-green neon colour and it is called the Prague Lamp. Another feature are the 700 chairs that can be moved around individually, so you can find a place in the sun or shade.”

prof. kural said that the space isn’t actually used as much as was hoped for. our group thought that there might be several reasons for this, including the generally inhospitable danish weather, a lack of places to buy food nearby, and the absence of mature trees. although i love this project, i have to agree that it isn’t as functional as the idea of the design suggests. i like to think of it more as an awesome bike path than as a park. hopefully over time, it will be used more and more. click here for a link to my earlier blog entry about prags boulevard.

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#2: Holmbladsgade Sports + Culture Center (Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter, 2006)

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As with Prags Boulevard the Culture and Sports Centre was also built as a part of neighbourhood facelift scheme. The centre does not only have facilities for regular sporting activities such handball or basketball, but also tai chi or yoga can be practised on the so-called multifunctional plateaux. Apart from sporting activities the centre plays host to concerts and theatre events. The canopy streches like a webbing between the existing buildings and the new, and the transparent material is intended to ensure optimum incidence of light. When darkness falls the building will appear like a radiant crystal with all the shadows inside visible from the streets.”

i also like this project a lot, and this is the first time i’ve been able to visit it when it was actually in use. various community groups use the main court space, and there are other, smaller activity areas for wall climbing, ping pong, and dance. theatre groups and chess clubs also rent the multipurpose rooms. here’s a link to my valle blog entry on some of dorte mandrup arkitekter’s projects, including the holmbladsgade sports + culture center.

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#3: Maritime Youth Center (Plot, 2003-2004)

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Built as a part of the neighbourhood facelift scheme the Maratime Youth Center plays host to Sundby Sailing Association’s youth section, as well as the kids and youngsters of the area. The centre is a starting point for water activities, and the buildings below the wooden deck has room for more social activities. Depending on how the weather will be, you can either service the boats inside or outside and hold talks and workshops. The wooden deck has an outdoor space of 1600 square metres, which is substantially more than the projected 375. This solution deals with the problem of contaminated soil which is isolated underneath the wooden surface and the money that had to be spent on cleaning up could be used elsewhere.”

i’ve visited this project once before and didn’t get a lot of new information on this trip, but it seems to be a fun, innovative building. it definitely gives off a ‘youthful’ vibe and fits into the beach and harbour area with its wavy form. i really like that one is able to inhabit the roof of the entire building – there were several kids playing on it and sliding down it while we were visiting.

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#4: Amager Strandpark (Hasløv & Kjærsgaard, 2004-2005)

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The Amager Beach Front is located just of the west coast of Amager. It consists of the beach along the coastal road, a lagoon, an island and 2 parks. Along the island there are situated 4 stations containing all the service facilities you will require on a day at the beach and the curved pathway connects them together. In the northern part of the island the landscape is made up of sand dunes, and at the southern part you will encounter more park-like grounds. Amager Strand Beach has been thirty years underway with the final framework outlined in 2000. With the Metro station stopping nearby the area attracts people from all over Copenhagen.”

what a great beach park. i love how simple the “bunker” structures are and how much emphasis is actually on the landscape of the beach. here’s a link to my earlier blog entry about amager strandpark.

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#5: Kastrup Public Bath (White Architects, 2004)

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The Kastrup Public Bath takes up the tradition from Helgoland, which had to be torn down in order to make room for Amager Strand Beach. It consists of the main building on water, a new bathing beach and a new service building onshore. In addition there will be constructed a gigantic Amphitheatre on land. A 100metre long bridge leads from beach and out to the Lido. The Lido is constructed from azobe timber which has a high resistance to saltwater. It has a circular shape and a windscreen winding all the way around. The lowest point of screen is 1.5 metres and reaches up to 8 metres. As well being multifunctional and accessible for disabled the structure also offers a sculptural sight for those taking an evening stroll along the beach.”

this project is located at the southern end of amager strandpark. we were there on a pretty crisp and windy day (great skies, though!) and inside the ‘donut,’ it was sunny, warm, and pleasant. though not quite pleasant enough to take a dip in the sound. there were a number of people just hanging out there – picnicking, playing guitar, and so on. that was where we ended the day and then stayed for a while to enjoy the sun and the view. : )

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