It is only appropriate that the number four in Danish is spelled like fire in English – because things are heating up in the studio quickly! With all the Scandinavian inspiration I have just experienced I was ready for the task at hand…however, getting started and keeping momentum is a task in itself. It took a bit of thinking of what to share this week & I decided to share some ‘behind the scenes’ work & process. My Urban Design project revolves around redesigning a site on a lake. The focus is to ‘Bridge the Gap’ and design an urban recreational space – simple right? Well the challenges include the site being next to a main transportation artery leading to and from the center of the city (city hall, Tivoli Gardens and the main rail station to name a few major sites). In real estate they say location is everything – Unfortunately the orientation of the lake, and heavily trafficked roads created a very uninviting environment for the inhabitants of the surrounding neighborhoods.
(There are more parameters/obstacles in place for this challenge, but I’m not going to bore you with that list)
To create an inviting space where people would want to stay for more than five minutes it is imperative to understand how people currently interact and use the space. The 12 of us in Urban Design broke into teams and collected data……a lot of data (e.g. scale comparison to other sites with similar functions, climate, sun orientation throughout the day and seasons, connectivity to other areas in and out of the city center, etc).
In order to put all that data in further context our professor facilitated a board game that we used on site to extract a more in depth understanding of the challenges of the site and how to implement change on the ground – because the problem with design these days is that it is not designed on a human interaction scale but from the aerial birds eye view. Now armed with more data – we retreated to our own thoughts (or nightmares) in trying to solve this evolving puzzle of creating a site that encourages interaction, use, and pleasure.
After some discussions with my first iteration of designs my Professor (& Professional Architect) encouraged me to expand beyond the surface of the existing ground and don’t be afraid to get creative. This was a difficult task considering my mentality is that of a practical & minimal nature.
So I left the studio jumped into the classroom (the city of Copenhagen itself) to explore and see what works, what doesn’t, what’s been implemented, what hasn’t, etc – i.e. observing & analyzing how other spaces ‘work’ in relation to different levels of human interaction. First stop, our site.
One of the things our Professor mentioned was how to define a successful space. Essentially, success doesn’t mean having an activated site 24/7 like Times Square and I have seen sites here that accomplish a ‘healthy’ level of activity. Second stop….all over the place to explore!
(Today alone I biked 22k/13.6ish miles)
Perhaps I can utilize the approach of the late architect Sverre Fehn, who designed the museum my group presented on, at the site. Sometimes the natural environment has the raw materials waiting to be used over the man-made imitations.
I can now expand on my concept armed with my new images of practical use/implementation from my travels in Copenhagen, next week I will share more pictures of the areas outside the city center, updates & improvements to my process, and another aspect of Danish design culture. Have a great week & enjoy the following images of my discoveries and thoughts.