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COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

Denmark Architecture News - Oct 23, 2019 - 12:56   2099 views

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

Danish architecture firm COBE has created a unique undulating landscape with hollow hills and low bicyclebeds for bicycle lovers in Copenhagen, Denmark. Named Karen Blixens Plads, COBE's new public space creates a new and innovative way to park bicycles.

Officially opened in late August, the Karen Blixens Plads is one of the largest public spaces in Copenhagen and has room for more than 2,000 parked bicycles. COBE has completed design under Dan Stubbergaard’s leadership, worked in close collaboration with EKJ Consulting Engineers on the project. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

Covering more than 20,000-square-metre area, the Karen Blixens Plads is situated between the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Royal Library’s buildings at the university’s South Campus, the open and welcoming urban space is an innovative, spectacular and multi-functional architectural design that accommodates and promotes green transportation, climate change adaptation and biodiversity. The project was supported by a generous donation from the private foundation A.P Møller Fonden.

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE's design scheme creates innovative approach for bicycle parking

COBE designed the combined public square and university plaza as a carpet that covers an undulating terrain of small hills and breaks the large space up into smaller zones with room for activities both on and inside the hills (domes). 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.

In addition to serving as an active meeting place for students, employees and locals, the square also contains a high-capacity bicycle parking space for the many users of the university, including 16,000 students and 2,000 employees. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

"Copenhagen is one of the world’s leading bicycle cities, with more than 40 per cent of the city’s inhabitants riding their bike for their daily commute. That requires a new and flexible approach to bicycle parking. In previous projects we have developed innovative bicycle parking solutions that form a natural element in the environment," said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of COBE..

"By Nørreport Station, for example, we created the so called bicycle beds, and here, at Karen Blixen Plads, the solution is bicycle hills. The integrated hilly landscape creates a space with a large capacity for bicycles, two-thirds of them in covered spaces inside the bicycle hills."

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

In collaboration with CN3, COBE and EKJ’s construction engineers calculated and created 3D projections of the iconic concrete dome constructions, as COBE highlighted. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

The solution is based on a shell construction as the loadbearing 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.

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

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 north side of the square, where the three main entrances to the university are located, is an open and multipurpose space. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

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 stormwater. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

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 supplements the canal in case of extreme precipitation, thus contributing to climate change adaptation. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

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.

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. 

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

"All in all, we have created a unique space based on three main principles: improving the connection between landscape and urban space, integrating optimal green spaces with a large capacity for bicycle parking and creating a space that offers good social meeting places and learning environments," said COBE’s founder, Dan Stubbergaard.

"The almost cathedral-like form of the bicycle hills further offers an aesthetic experience in its own right, both when people park their bikes and when they meet at the hills for lectures, group work, concerts or Friday afternoon socializing."

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

COBE creates undulating landscape with hollow hills for cyclists in Copenhagen

Project facts

Program: new urban space by the University of Copenhagen, South Campus (KUA).
Place: Copenhagen, Denmark.
Size: 21,415 m2.
Client: Danish Building and Property Agency. Private donation: grant from the private foundation A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal.
Architect: COBE.
Full-service consultant: EKJ Consulting Engineers.
Additional engineers: CN3, Vind-Vind.
Contractors: M. J. Eriksson (construction contract), NCC Denmark (concrete contract).
Press review: The project just had two 5-star reviews and one 6-star review in the major newspapers in Denmark.

All images © Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

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