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Works #447

Karen Blixens PladsRealized



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Location Copenhagen, Denmark
Year 2019
Categories Architectural Design  >  Public facilities


Year: First prize in competition 2014, completed 2019
Client: Danish Building and Property Agency and A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til Almene Formål
Program: Urban plaza at the University of Copenhagen
Size: 21,415 m² with 2,000 parking lots for bicycles

Karen Blixens Plads is an urban space at the University of Copenhagen South Campus. Occupying approximately 20,000 m², Karen Blixens Plads is one of the biggest public squares in Copenhagen. The plaza is located between the recently built university buildings of the South Campus and the nature reserve Amager Commons. The urban space is connected to Amager Commons through a gradual transition, which makes Karen Blixens Plads a hybrid of park and public square, organized as a superimposed surface of human-made hills and valleys with room for 2,000 parked bicycles inside the hills. The square works as a campus landscape with an important functional role as well as a recreational resource. The necessary infrastructure is turned into a three-dimensional student hang-out.

For a long time, the university square has been a dull grey parking area for bikes, in an unfriendly scale and with no spatial hierarchy. Although it was one of the biggest public spaces in the city, it was also one that few people used.

The university square is arranged as a superimposed surface of hills and valleys with room for 2,000 parked bicycles. The heart of the campus nestles among the hills and valleys, providing a central urban living room that connects the three main entrances of the university.

The result is a campus square that offers a variety of urban spaces, which are well connected to the city fabric and easily accessible for all users.

The campus square with its adjacent greenery and bicycle hills has a floating surface, evoking the impression of an undulating urban carpet. The bicycle hills are integrated into this floating carpet, providing covered bicycle parking underneath.

A double layer of programming turns dull bicycle infrastructure into an interesting and inviting public space and student hang-out.

"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. 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."
-Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder, Cobe

Between the hills and the main connecting infrastructure lies the heart of the university. As a natural meeting place, the area offers a flexible zone where many different activities can unfold, including informal breaks, lectures, group work or events outside of school hours, serving as an urban living room.

The connection to Amager Commons is created as a gradual transition from the urban university square to the greenery that naturally merges the green and urban spaces and materials.

This creates a fine balance between the urban character of the university campus and the open natural space of Amager Commons.

The bespoke solution creates three types of bicycle parking – uncovered, covered and slightly sunken into the terrain – and creates a landscape of hills that people can walk on top of or sit among in addition to using the bicycle parking.

The bicycle hills are created as iconic concrete domes with a shell construction as the load-bearing structure.

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 use the hills for lectures, group work, concerts or Friday afternoon socializing.

At night, the bicycle hills are lit from within. The lighting gives Karen Blixens Plads a warm and safe atmosphere in the dark.

Collaborators: EKJ, CN3, Vind-Vind, M.J. Eriksson, NCC Danmark

Awards: Årets Arne Award 2020 Finalist, DETAIL Readers' Prize 2020 Nominee, Building Awards 2020 – The Climate Prize, Dezeen Awards 2020 - Landscape Project of the Year, EU Mies van der Rohe Award 2022 Nominee, Rethinking The Future Awards 2021, AZ Awards 2021

Team: Andreas Jørgensen, Anne Kyst Hansen, Ben James, Birk Folke Daugaard, Caroline Nagel, Christian Sander, Dan Stubbergaard, Frederik Lyng, Iben Marie Borbye Pedersen, Joachim Makholm Michelsen, Karoline Liedtke, Louise Flach de Neergaard, Ludvig Holtenäs, Maria Aufegger, Matilda Andersson, Peter Laust Røhr Hønnicke, Rasmus Hjortshøj, Rasmus Jessing, Rune Boserup Jacobsen, Stine Bærentzen, Søren Schaumburg Jensen

Photographer: Rasmus Hjorthøj – COAST, Thomas Bille, Anne Østerby