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Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelFormidling


I recently took part in a networking initiative where the subject of discussion was sustainability in architecture. During the debate the specific problem of how to make restoration, or more precisely transformation of an existing building, or buildings, sustainably responsible became a subject for discussion. One of the obvious answers is of course to acknowledge reusing and upgrading an existing building is a sustainable act in itself and its rather a case of working as best as possible with what is already there. To add a higher performance profile. It wasn't long however before the other obvious answer was suggested - and that is to build on top of the existing structure - to increase the density by going vertical. This though is where we meet the puritans that argue we are interfering with the architectural heritage, that to add destroys the architectural integrity and meaning of the original and that irrespective of what the architect does it can be none other than detrimental, and an unwanted addition. Or at least any potential additions need to be very carefully considered from the perspective of the original architectural 'monument'. Here we meet face to face the underlying architectural culture embedded in our buildings and our cities. That we must tread carefully and not destroy the architectural fabric and heritage we already have. The danish metropolis has an eaves line that rarely deviates from a common denominator of around about 5 or 6 stories, unless of course you are a church spire. It's so embedded in an understanding of our architectural heritage and culture that even in academia I meet students fighting with this phenomena that to raise above the existing urban horizon is a sin.

Common sense however is prevailing - or is it just money talking - and we are now beginning to see more and more projects that confront the need for a higher density coupled with the need for high rise. And it means by default that our cities are changing, and our view both of our new building culture and the view FROM our new building culture is also changing. The ongoing development at Carlsberg in Valby is beginning to break the mould - thankfully. I like the masterplan. I like the understanding we should move forward, not necessarily with a bulldozer, but with the understanding that an architectural heritage is in our hands and we need to improve and embrace a more compact way of living, and a more sustainable way of living, without being detrimental to our professional ancestors and their work. This involves meeting existing buildings face to face and to acknowledge a need - yes a need - to go up.

So the intentions at Carlsberg are good. The master plan takes a starting point in what is already found and adds layers and density to promote a new city life, with high rise buildings. The Carlsberg site's vision is to create an active and diverse town and I'm optimistic they are doing that. But where the history of the area is maintained while incorporating principles for life in the modern city. Well that's what they write and there is already evidence it's happening.

Taking The Bohr's Tårn project as an example there is no doubt that density has dictated, with the architect consortium designing a large 6 storey base (6 storeys – is that a coincidence?) that accommodates the University College Complex (UCC) and a tower of housing sprouting above. This stretches to 100m high, only 5m short of Copenhagen's rådhus tårn. The architecture explores the statement of original intent where 'the history of the area is maintained' through the use of materials and building technique. There is an industrial feel to the complex that I enjoy. It's robust. Welcoming, yet durable. The UCC explores through the use of material a contemporary version of the previous functions on the site. And the spaces certainly appear well propositioned, well connected and welcoming, and functional. The tower that projects above is devoted to housing. One can argue the normal rule book has been reversed, where normally work (study) spaces have tended to be located in a high rise and housing firmly located down at earth level, this building is following the trend of occupying a tower for accommodation. I have no qualms about high level living, but the apartments themselves seem so gentrified. They do not carry on this story of maintaining a reference to the history of the area. Outside maybe with an industrial feel cladding, but inside I see only real estate talking and frankly these housing units could be anywhere. I miss the architecture responding to the overall thesis of using a palate and language appropriate to its context. There are oceans of examples where housing has been adapted within an industrial architecture, the New York Loft apartments are a classic example. I would have preferred a low finish rather than a high finish, where the development can begin to give suggestions for a new way of living. Where volume and height offer a spacious frame for metropolis living. And where the robust material collage is brought to the home. Don't forget living up beyond the classic 6 storey bench mark is almost new to Denmark and thereby deserves a fresh interpretation for housing, and why not a living environment where the history of the area is present? I would have liked to have seen the architect consortium really 'Breaking the Waves' and offering an interpretation for a new type of living in an industrial quarter up in the skies. A Danish way of understanding and interpreting a modern city with a deep respect of it’s past. But maybe that's too speculative right now, maybe for the developer it's all about the money after all. I hope not.
Bidragets oversatte titelBohr's Tower
TidsskriftByg, bæredygtigt byggeri
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)16-17
Antal sider2
StatusUdgivet - 2017


  • Bohrs Tårn

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Ja