a visit to Ørestad
after getting to know mainly copenhagen city center for the past two weeks, my European Urban Design Theories [EUDT] professor scooped us up from class this afternoon and whisked us to the metro. i love the metro here because the big windows grant me this view if i squeesh into the very front cart:
our destination: Ørestad City, the new developing town on Amager [pronounced ‘AHma(r?gh??)], a tear drop-shaped island to the east of copenhagen.
the question: young + modernized + star-chitecture-saturated [daniel liebeskind, jean nouvel, etc.] as Ørestad is, would people want to live here?
as a true T.O.D. – transport-oriented development, Ørestad City is pretty much centered around the metro. which is good for public transportation and accessibility to copenhagen, and bad/sad because it bisects the town’s ‘main street’ like a knife down its spinal cord. apparently, humans need a minimum of 20 meters distance to recognize a person’s face as friendly…and this main street [you can barely see the other side] spans 56m. i think about all the times that i have waved hi to people standing on the other side of skinny little Vestegrade outside DIS…and hmmm, narrower streets can be very nice.
so Ørestad is currently 998238% housing and very very little commercial shops, except for the monstrous Field’s mall next to the metro stop. A mall is a mall…meaning that it has a long, closed unfriendly street facade, and makes everyone go inside to bat around for their whatever human needs, leaving the streets empty and forlorn. so instead of mixed use/shops along the streets, there are lots of landmarky condos instead:
before today, i guess i had really never understood what it means for a city to be ‘at human scale.’ (we’re always taught to ‘design for the human’ in studio, but all that meant to me was making sure not to have monstrous ceiling heights and mousey-sized staircase widths.) living in boston, new york, and new jersey, and traveling to taiwan, singapore, and bangkok, i guess i’ve only encountered urban environments that were somewhat condensed and crowded… which i had formerly seen as potentially claustrophobic, but now, compared to this futuristically barren Ørestad, seem scarily comfy.
sigh — i love site visits.
EUDT, i think you will be my favorite class this semester.
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Tags: architecture, cities, copenhagen, denmark, urbanism