Friday, 4 March 2011

Think BIG - Copenhagen


Copenhagen is growing fast and with its 539,542 citizens and about 1.2 million in the metro area its a rather busy place.

One of the very famous examples in the Copenhagen planning history is the Finger Plan of 1947. Quite interesting how the formal shape of the human hand serves here as an icon for a strategy. It is not very modernist to use such this reference in such a direct way. But nevertheless also Le Corbusier referred occasionally to the body in urban planning projects as a reference. However, here it is a very litteral translation and it has never grown out of it. The different elements are still, aso on Wikipedia, called the Ringfinger, the little finger, and so on. In a very modernist tradition one would maybe expect a stronger interpretation of the function of the hand, in the sense of form follow function.

But there are many more interesting projects. A great Timeline of the Copenhagen urban planing history can be found on Engineering-Timelines.

Finger Plan 1947
Image taken from Skyscrapercity / The Finger Plan 1947 provides a strategy for the development of Greater Copenhagen, Denmark. According to the plan, Copenhagen is to develop along five 'funger', centred on S-train commuter rail lines, which extend from the 'palm', that is the dense urban fabric of central Copenhagen. In between the fingers, green wedges are supposed to provide land for agriculture and recreational purposes.

One of the latest additions, not yet on the above timeline, in the BIG contribution of a new and of course BIG rethinking of the wider Copenhagen area. It is entitled: '1947-2047: From Finger Plan to Loop City'. The project was presented at the 12th Architecture Biennale in Venice 2010 and was really a collaborative project. It goes with loads of credits: Presentation developed by BIG + Kollision + CAVI. Loop City Vision by BIG + Tom Nielsen + ReD Associates + ARUP. Presentation sponsored by Realdania.

The key idea is to develop a ring around the the Øresund Strait combining Sweden and Denmark into a one urban area. By connecting the fingers with a light railway and then extending along the little finger clockwise around the Strait all the way down to Malmö and back across the bridge connecting to the thumb.

A very bold gesture with even bolder infrastructure-architecture hybrids. It features the reinterpretation of a Roman aquaduct or a highway loop in the style of model racetrack features. Landmarks I suppose, the point comes across.

Loop City
Image taken from Danish Architecture Centre / The ten rings of the Øresund region by BIG et all, 2010.

Interesting are the ten layers the team has based the project on. Of course transport and sustainability are at the very top of the importance list, but the layer 10 with the nationalities reflects a very specific attitude to wards foreigners and migrants. The nationalities already established and presumed to grow in the near future feature as an important argument of the project. Its not something negative that has to be hidden, but something that can be built upon become a driving force. There are of course some elements embedded in this like the "København M" as a reference to the rivalry between Danmark and Sweden, but its and key part. Danemark is living a very liberal culture, this is reassuring.

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