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Undulating Innovation: Karen Blixens Plads by COBE

Undulating Innovation: Karen Blixens Plads by COBE

Karen Blixens Plads by COBE Ph. Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Situated between the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Royal Library’s buildings, this new urban space was designed by COBE Architects and supported by a generous donation from the private foundation A.P Møller Fonden. With more than 20,000 m2, the park promotes green transportation, biodiversity, and climate change adaptation.  Working as an undulating carpet, its concrete hills provide bicycle parking while the green spaces bring the nature of the neighboring Ammager Commons closer to the institution.

Ph. Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Innovative bicycle parking. The combined public square and university plaza are designed as a carpet that covers an undulating terrain of small hills and breaks the large space into smaller zones with room for activities both on and inside the hills (domes). In addition to serving as an active meeting place for students, employees, and locals, the square contains a high-capacity bicycle parking space for the many users of the university, including 16,000 students and 2,000 employees. The innovative and unique design has room for 2,000 bicycles. The three bicycle hills were created as cast concrete shells clad with hand-laid tiles in colors echoing the exteriors of the surrounding university buildings.

Interdisciplinary collaboration. In collaboration with CN3, COBE and EKJ’s construction engineers calculated and created 3D projections of the iconic concrete dome constructions. The solution is based on a shell construction as the load-bearing structure. Aesthetically, the design provides a large airy space underneath the domes. However, while a shell construction does not normally have holes in it, these domes have large openings, which constituted a significant challenge and required additional statistical analyses.

Green profile. In a soft transition, Karen Blixens Plads brings together the university’s need for urban spaces with the open landscape of the neighboring Amager Fælled (Amager Commons). The Northside of the square, where the three main entrances to the university are located, is an open and multi-purpose space. To the South, hilly, undulating meadowland connects the campus with the commons. In addition to bringing nature into the campus, the landscape also contributes to climate change adaptation by adding a capacity to handle storm water. Delaying rainwater in depressions in the landscape utilizes the recreational values of the water and creates small wet biotopes that support biodiversity, enable rainwater evaporation, and supplement the canal in case of extreme precipitation, thus contributing to climate change adaptation. The design uses simple, sturdy, and durable materials, just as lighting and furnishings are kept to a few, simple elements to ensure a sustainable urban space. All the selected elements are low-maintenance and contribute to the square’s green profile.

Ph. Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Outdoor auditorium. A central feature is an outdoor auditorium with seating for up to 1,000 people on the manmade hills. The hilltops offer additional standing room for concerts or other large public events.

DATE: 2019 / LOCATION: Copenhagen, Denmark / AREA: 20.000 m2 (built) / PROGRAM: University Landscape + Planning / STATUS: built / DESIGN: COBE / CONSTRUCTION: M.J. Eriksson, NCC Danmark / CONSULTANTS: Engineers EKJ, CN3, Vind-Vind / PHOTOS: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

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