Danish Architecture Guide

Ørestad North

Ørestad Nord (Ørestad North) is Copenhagen’s new knowledge centre for culture, media and communication technology. Here you will find, among others, the IT University, Københavns Universitet Amager (Copenhagen University Amager) - a.k.a. KUA, DR Byen (headquarters of Denmark’s broadcasting corporation, DR), and several innovative examples of design for different types of housing: student residences, cooperatives, social housing and owner-occupied flats. The ambition is for the district to be an exploratorium for new ways of living and urban spaces in the network society.

NB! The route on the map is auto-generated. Read instructions in the text below for most convenient walking tour

The tour begins at the corner of Njalsgade and Ørestad Boulevard by Islands Brygge metro station.
Here, the building Metropolen is under construction. Metropolen will be a seven-storey office block, with shops on the ground floor and offices on the remaining floors. The building’s defining trait will be a bright glass front, which will be adorned with a form of punched out letters and numbers to imbue the building with a distinctive character.

Walk along Njalsgade, past the university’s older red buildings, the so-called ‘old KUA’ (Københavns Universitet Amager). The prefabs were erected in the 1970s as a temporary measure, but only recently has major reconstruction been started. The plan is to strip down the old buildings and build four new semi-transparent wings on top of the old shell. The result will be a more open, bright and modern university.

Continue to the corner of Njalsgade and Amager Fælledvej, where the Bikuben Kollegiet student residence is located. Designed by the Århus firm aart, the residence was inaugurated in 2006. The architects’ ambition was to create the basis for new modes of interaction and togetherness. As a result, communal areas such as kitchens, living rooms, and the roof garden are distributed to overlap multiple floors. The communal areas are situated around a central courtyard, which lets you see from one area to another. Notice that the pillars facing Njalsgade display the words ‘Respect’, ‘Tolerance’ and ‘Honesty’, and the fluorescent tubes beneath the ceiling that spell out ‘Knowledge’.

Go back down Njalsgade and turn left on Emil Holms Kanal along Universitetskanalen, the canal that runs between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ KUA. The new buildings were completed in 2002, and combined they form the ‘Southern Campus’ of the University of Copenhagen, which houses the faculty of the humanities.

Look in
As you walk along KUA, the glass front enables you to look inside the buildings and the canteen, which is open to the public. This is the standard for all newer buildings in Ørestad Nord - the ground floor is always publicly accessible, in order to promote different activities and encounters. By the entrances to the new KUA you will see coloured light installations by Viera Carlos, who also decorated Bikuben Kollegiet.

Continue along Universitetskanalen, and you will see the new extension to the Det Kgl. Bibliotek (The Royal Library) across the canal. It serves as research library with reading room and lending department. Designed by Dissing & Weitling, it opened in 2008.

From temporary park to building
At the end of the bright university buildings, on the corner of Emil Holms Kanal and Rued Langaards Vej, you will find Mikado House, which is expected to be completed in 2010. The location was previously a temporary park, with criss-crossing paths resembling the sticks from the game ‘Mikado’ – hence the name. Mikado House will be home to the Copenhagen office of Arkitema, the architects behind the building. In addition, the building will contain offices and a restaurant, and will have cafés and shops on the ground floor.

Walk across Rued Langaards Vej to IT-Universitetet (IT University). If you are here during opening hours, take a look inside the impressive inner courtyard. A number of rooms for meetings and group work have been extended into the space like a long row of transparent ‘drawers’ pulled out to varying lengths. Designated study spots on balconies between the drawers ensure that you will always see activity when looking up from the great courtyard. In keeping with the spirit of the place, digital art adorns the inner courtyard.

Exit the way you came in and cross the canal to the large round student residence Tietgenkollegiet.

Orientally inspired student residence
One of the inspirations for Lundgaard & Tranberg, the architects behind Tietgenkollegiet, has been the traditional Tulou building type of southeastern China. Tulou buildings consist of village communities with individual dwellings and communal areas shaped into circular buildings. Try walking into the courtyard through the gate at no. 10 and see how the communal kitchens, recreational rooms and terraces all surround the courtyard, while the living areas are placed on the outside. Also notice the fronts. The glass sections and external shutters are made with components in oiled American oak, while other parts of the fronts are clad in tombac, which is a very malleable alloy of copper and zinc.

Leave Tietgenkollegiet and turn right at Rued Langgaards Vej, past the residential blocks of Karen Blixen Parken. At the end of the road, a path continues across a green space towards the housing complex Boligslangen (The Housing Snake).

Boligslangen consists of almost 300 flats and a child care centre. The snake has been named after the way it winds through the landscape of Ørestad Nord. In several places, the snake intertwines with the scenic canal that runs through the area, from the university past DR Byen to Grønjord Lake.

A unique aspect of Boligslangen is the floating roof that spans the gap between the two buildings, which contributes to the impression of a long, snaking series of residences. Fælledhaven (The Garden of the Common) is designed by DOMUS Arkitekter A/S and Universitetshaven (The University Garden) is designed by Arkitema. Fælledhaven consists of public housing, while Universitetshaven is part cooperative and part owner-occupied flats. Instead of centring the buildings around vertical stairwells, the Boligslangen has been designed horizontally. Along Fælledhaven, footbridges function both as access to individual flats and as terraces for the residents. The white plaster base that runs the length of Universitetshaven’s front serves to underline the horizontal aspect.

Go back to Emil Holms Kanal and turn right towards DR Byen.

DR Byen as Kasbah
Equalling four football fields in size, DR Byen (DR Town - DR is Denmark’s broadcasting corporation) consists of four major buildings or segments. To achieve the greatest possible variation, the individual parts are designed by different architects. The overall design, created by Vilhelm Lauritzen A/S, relies on inspiration from the middle-eastern kasbah, with its refined pattern of covered squares, streets, shops, and more.

The first building you will see is segment 3, located next to Karen Blixen Parken and designed by Gottlieb & Paludan Architects A/S and Nobel Architects A/S. It is the smallest of the four segments and houses the administration of DR and the regional radio station Københavns Radio. The theme of this building is the green element. The staff has views to greenery by way of the plants in the gardens recessed into the building’s sides and in some of the inner courtyards.

Segment 2 lies just across from IT-Universitetet, and is designed by Dissing + Weitling. The focal point and heart of the building is a large open space, characterised by soft and organic forms and great transparency that allows the light to reach all desks in the building. It is home to DR News and Sports, among others.

Segment 4 is the (in)famous concert hall by Ateliers Jean Nouvel, which was plagued by massive budget overruns. The building rises to a height of 45 metres with its characteristic cobalt blue sides, which at night act like a screen where film, art or text can be projected. Take a look inside to see the characteristic ‘elephant skin’ of the concrete walls.

Segment 1, across from the concert hall, is designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen A/S. The largest segment of the four, it holds the reception, studios, editorial offices, storerooms, and more. You can take a peek inside the reception via the entrance under the glass bridge. The tour concludes where DR Byen ends, and you see the Metro station across an open field with parking spaces.

Temporary public urban space
This area was originally intended for a new building for the National Archives, but this was moved to a location next to the central train station. The site is therefore currently empty, with no concrete plans for development. On the other hand, there are plans for creating a temporary public space for cycling, recreation, play and sports designed by MUTOPIA architects.

Written October 2009 by Danish Architecture Centre

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