Life between harbours

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A week of public space studies in Copenhagen is like a holiday for anyone, especially those people who have traveled here to participate in the World Outgames.  This is the largest public activity happening in the city this week.  The games need not be present to see the active public spaces, though.  And the temporary exhibits, when not the focus of my photography, are obstructing shots of some of the best new architecture on the inner harbor.  With the help of Danish architect, Stefan Brorsen, I encounter the newest public spaces and urban developments in Copenhagen.

Copenhagen is known for having the first true/official pedestrian street.  The Danish translation of these car-free areas is literally “walk streets.”  The enclosure you experience from the heights and proximity of European buildings in general is something that developments all over the world have tried to replicate – the duplication of the urban room.

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We learn about the plans for the Carlsberg (Brewing Company) historic neighborhood redevelopment project.  The results from a  2007 design competition are determining the future of this previously industrial slice of the city.  Currently, artists are living and working in some of the buildings.  Many of the buildings are already works of art.

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The redevelopment of an old transit corridor produces a mixed-use median where different activities are staged.  And unlike the often passive solutions we build in the U.S. (ie. Mandela Parkway) the scale and components of these Scandinavian designs seem to have more potential for success.  We walk along Sonder Boulevard and see sports cages nearly the width of the median strip.  Soccer and basketball games, platforms for lounging and eating, wildlife parks…  The tight knit surrounding fabric helps, of course too, and this section of Europe isn’t without it’s infamous outdoor cafes.

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