Copenhagen Gallery

Nørreport Station

The new Nørreport is not simply a highly efficient traffic hub. It is also a successful public space, in which it is pleasant to spend time, and move around.

Nørreport, the busiest station in Denmark, has undergone a highly successful conversion. The old, dark nooks and crannies have disappeared, making way for open, inviting buildings in a streamlined public space. It was an excellent idea to unite the station as a thoroughfare with the public space as a place to spend time in. Both elements have been equally successful.

Designed on the basis of your footsteps

As a basis designing the new Nørreport, an analysis was conducted of the movements of pedestrians across the square. With the use of this movement analysis, the architects could see where the busiest stretches were, and which areas were devoid of significant traffic. That meant that the architects could position walking areas where pedestrians already walked, while positioning buildings and bicycle parking facilities in areas, where they would not obstruct the multitudes of people, who pass through Nørreport on a daily basis.

Open, welcoming shapes

These organically shaped areas, which are distributed between the busy walking areas, are filled out with rounded-off buildings, covered by soft pent roofs and providing smart bicycle parking. The buildings have rounded corners and transparent glass façades, which invest the square with a cohesive, open look. There are no "backs" or dingy corners. Whatever direction you approach from, the buildings come across as open and welcoming. A row of individual pent roofs provides roofs for the buildings, shelter for bicycle parking and stairwells.

Bikes in the centre - but not in the way

Copenhagen is a proud cycling city, but the downside of that pride is the frequently chaotic heaps of parked bikes, particularly in the vicinity of traffic hubs such as Nørreport. So a decent solution to the problem of bicycle parking posed a key challenge for the architects. Their solution was exemplary. They designed "bike beds", where people could "plant" their bikes, when they were hurrying off somewhere else. The bike beds are distributed all over the square in the less busy areas. "It's a good idea to place the otherwise constantly impossible bicycle racks in places, where people are less likely to walk. But their most original idea was to push the bike beds down into the ground," wrote Karsten Ifversen in his review of Nørreport for the Danish national newspaper, Politiken. He is referring to the fact that the bike beds have been sunken about 40 cm into the ground. While it is a great way of showing people where they can park their bikes, it has an added advantage. In purely visual terms, the myriad bikes no longer take up so much of the landscape. Overall, there is room for 2,500 bicycles in the bicycle beds, which are illuminated at night by LED bulbs, so people can always locate their noble steeds.

Market square atmosphere

The open areas provide space for street life with seating, shops and cafés and restaurants with outdoor service. All bus and car traffic has been consolidated on the Nørrebro side, allowing the open square to continue its natural flow into the pedestrian streets of Fiolstræde and Frederiksborgvej. A handful of projects still await completion. These include the 11 ventilation towers, which will send fresh air down into the underground. When they are completed, they will also provide lighting for the square and some of them will be designed as digital information columns, providing passengers with departure times for trains, buses and metro services. Others will be encircled by benches, enhancing the ambience of the public space and allowing people to settle down and view life at Nørreport.

Green roofs and solar cells

Though invisible from street level, if you viewed Nørrepørt from above, you would see that the pent roofs are covered with low, green vegetation. In addition to providing Nørreport with a touch of green (at least for the surrounding residents, when they look out of their windows), the vegetation can also absorb a great deal of the rainwater, when it is pouring down. There are also solar cell zones on the roofs, contributing to the station's energy consumption. At the edge of the square, a number of trees will provide a splash of green at street level. Though they have not yet been planted, they will probably be spreading their crowns over Nørreport by summer.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015 / By Ida Oline Frandsen

Last updated Wednesday, June 24, 2015