exhibition review

exhibition review, museums + galleries, streetscape

væggen - the wall

 

Last summer the Museum of Copenhagen on Vesterbrogade closed to prepare for its move to Stormgade, close to the City Hall, where it will reopen in 2017.

Until the new museum opens, it is possible to access some of its huge archive of maps and historic images on line or, and much more fun, by visiting Væggen or The Wall that is now set up on Dantes Plads - a couple of blocks south of the City Hall and opposite the Glyptotek.

It is 12 metres long and looks a bit like a railway wagon but smaller and without wheels. One long side hinges and lifts up and out to form a canopy to reveal four large touch screens flanked by smaller display cases. 

One of those cases shows maps and background information about the current location, Dantes Plads, and the other images and artefacts that give a broad introduction to the archaeological work of the museum - primarily their field work to monitor and investigate excavations for either new buildings or the engineering work on the infrastructure of the city such as road works, drainage excavations or the extensive ongoing work on extending the metro.

But it’s the four screens that are the important part. They are interactive and the most obvious way into the material is a scroll of images of people and places that look rather like cut-out paper and cardboard theatres for children from the 19th and early 20th century and below that are date periods and key words for the history of the city. Pointing or touching the screen with a finger brings up a bright narrow spotlight and you can scroll through the images, which actually run across two adjoining screens or bring images to the front to change the selection. 

Choosing an image or a date or a subject opens the equivalent of a work station with two to each screen so potentially eight across the whole wall. Suddenly you have access to a huge number of images and short captions with information and you can swipe through a sequence of images, move down to open similar subjects or link through to related topics.

Many of the photographs and maps are from the vast collection of the museum but it is also possible for citizens and visitors to upload and tag their own images or you can add comments on existing media or even record a video-blog. The aim is to bring the city alive in terms of its social history. Generally these are not stock textbook or guide book views but show how people lived and how they reacted to their city. Visitors to the wall see those links to real people in the past and can see how life then was very very different or surprisingly and disconcertingly much the same and of course contributions added by the public will over time provide a fascinating window on life and attitudes now. 

Instructions and the information panels themselves can be toggled between Danish and English and The Wall is open every day between 8am and 10pm.

 

Væggen, the online site, gives a good initial impression of what it is like to use the wall and from that site you can access data and upload images … not just material about life in the city right now but also old photographs of Copenhagen or of your family and their life in the city.

exhibition review, new building

HOMES | ENSEMBLES | CITY HOUSING WELFARE

 

Copenhagen now houses 30% of the population of Denmark and the city is growing rapidly with 1,000 people moving here every month. Obviously there is a huge pressure to build new housing and with that pressure there is a very clear understanding by politicians, planners and architects that they have to get the new developments right.

An introduction to this exhibition at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts puts the problems succinctly:

“The strain on the city leads to rising prices of land, and high construction costs lead to higher costs of accommodation, both in new build and renovated properties. This makes it difficult to build in general, and almost impossible to build cheaply ….. The city is being segregated into enclaves, with wealthy people in attractive, but expensive districts ….. while citizens with lower incomes have to settle in less attractive districts of the metropolis. This is a threat to social welfare and cohesion.”

But, as with the recent exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre about the problems developing with climate change, this is neither a reason for doom and gloom nor an excuse to do nothing but talk anxiously about how awful it all will be. Rather, work has already begun on a massive amount of new building in the city … this exhibition is about housing schemes well on in the stages of planning so either where building work has started or is imminent. The contrast with the UK could not be greater: although both countries have been through the same economic recession, politicians in England seem to talk endlessly about the lack of housing but do nothing while in Denmark there has been a massive investment in infrastructure and work is progressing to build homes all round the city. And this is not small-scale development. The new area of Nordhavn is in part on land that was industrial dockland and in part is claimed from the sea but this area alone will have homes for 40,000 people and places for jobs for 40,000 people. 

Planners and architects in Copenhagen are well beyond the stage of trying to decide what they might do but clearly, from this exhibition, they are making sure that they do it properly.

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exhibition review, streetscape

Fællesskab din by - Co-create your city

This is an important and inspiring exhibition at the Danish Architecture Centre in Copenhagen that is primarily about the importance of community involvement at all levels in our cities - from making them really work day to day at the street or district level right through to being involved in major planning decisions.

The introduction panel sets this objective out very clearly … the “right to form our cities is something special. It is a product of a political development, but also the result of idealists all through history having challenged what and how a city could and should be - even when it was not formally possible. Citizens have come up with good ideas, gained support and fought for a better city. And not out of a sense of duty, but because they simply can not help themselves. They want to make something of their city, and they would like us to be part of that journey.”

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streetscape, gardens + parks, exhibition review, book review

Copenhagen Green

Last Summer there was an outdoor exhibition of photographs on Nytorv in Copenhagen, the large square in front of the old 18th-century town hall, and then later, from the middle of August, it was moved to the other end of the Walking Street onto Højbro Plads where it remained until the end of October.

The aim of the exhibition was to “strike a blow for the good city life and for the city’s green and sustainable places.” Photographs selected showed 100 sites around and just outside the city and showed all seasons … so from well-used public spaces like Frederiksberg Have (Frederiksberg Gardens) and the Søerne or lakes, that arc around the city centre to the west and north, to less well-known areas of green and planting like Kineserbyen (or the Yellow Town) and roof-top vegetable gardens of Østerbro and from the Spring blossom of Bispebjerg Kirkegård (cemetry) to the Winter frost covering Pinseskoven forest.

The photographs were stunning, particularly at the size they were printed, but the information and back stories of the long labels were also interesting and important … for instance there was one photograph and panel about the history of the distinct dark green paint used in the city for gates, doors, windows and benches. There were also clear location maps for finding the places profiled.

A book was published to accompany the exhibition, Copenhagen Green - 100 green things to see and do in Copenhagen, by Susanne Trier Norden and Poul Arnedal, for Foreningen By&Natur (June 2014)

There is also a fantastic web site, Discover Green Places in Copenhagen, with all the photographs and text but also additional maps and route directions ... you can browse from your armchair or plan a tour or start from where you are, if you are in Copenhagen, and look for nearby places and use the map and route directions to explore the city.

photographs of the exhibition when it was on Højbro Plads