Last month, I visited Copenhagen. Specifically Christiania. I won’t get into too much of the history but I wanted to share a short piece of writing about some of my experiences there. I rely heavily on the words of my guide but I have left him anonymous.
The original intent of the bar was at least partially to provide a low cost breakfast to residents. They didn’t even sell beer at first, like many portions of Christiania, though, there seems to have been a late, begrudging realization that things need to be paid for. Breakfast consists of two covered trays, one with slices of various breads and the other with cold cuts and vegetables for toppings. We get a couple of coffees, which if I hadn’t seen it dripping from the percolator, I would have sworn was instant. It may be that anything would taste slightly off when drank out of the thin brown plastic cups that begin immediately melting into the heat of the coffee.
There are a few hazards to living in a city whose major infrastructure is the canal. Bridges are frequently open which stops traffic. A bridge being open is a fine excuse for being late, beyond all the other available excuses around traveling by bicycle.
It gets even more interesting in the summer. When it gets above 25 degrees out, most of Amsterdam’s bridges get stuck. The bridges are covered in asphalt which soak up the sun and cause all of the components to swell. Of course in the winter the bridges contract as well causing small gaps. If the bridges were designed with larger tolerance, the gaps would become too large and people would start losing shoes and wouldn’t want to cross the bridge.
The somewhat bizarre solution is to use firehoses to bathe the bridges in cool river water when it gets too hot out. They are left pumping on the sidewalks and then when a boat needs to pass they spray the rest of the surface to allow the bridge to shrink and open up.The result is some wet feet, splashes from passing cars and strange rives running down the tram tracks along the roads.
There must be a better solution (material, or assembly) but in the mean time, this ridiculous stop gap measure allows for people to cool down along with the bridges. When it’s this hot, it’s great to ride your bike through the water and feel the spray on your legs.
A quick preview of a small side project I’m working on looking at the reuse of a parking structure in a mainly post-car Zimbabwe.
Parking ramp covered in a market in Harare Zimbabwe
Starting June 19th the complete works from Andrew Choptiany’s ‘Life Guard’ series will be on view for the first time. With the ‘Life Guard’ series Choptiany experiences a full tide cycle on the Bay of Fundy. He did this by sitting on a 20-foot high handmade structure built using fallen trees. Sitting for six hours straight, Choptiany immerses himself in the depth of the world famous highest tides from a unique perspective. The exhibition will be opening Friday June 19th until July 4th at Sunbury Shores Arts and Nature Centre in Saint Andrews, NB.
See more here.
Get in contact for more information, a press release, or to request that I send you a postcard which I made for this exhibition.
“Atlantikwall” by Uberstroker. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Atlantikwall.png#/media/File:Atlantikwall.png
The Atlantic Wall, built by Nazi Germany, is so fascinating that it deserves a serious amount of writing but BLDGBLOG has already written a couple articles on it (one two) so I will try to be brief.
These bunkers, meant to defend against the Allied invasion, form a line all up the Atlantic coast of Europe. It is comprised of a startling variety of building forms, though one connecting string is that they were built to last. Most of them are made of thick concrete walls which defy removal and so a large number of the bunkers remain today. The Netherlands especially has a significant collection of them. My favourite project working with them was done by RAAAF where they used an abbrassive chain cutting machine (imagine a chainsaw but with a much longer chain of rubbing bits rather than blades) to slice directly through one of these bunkers like a metal cheese slicer. The result is a perfect cross section of the concrete which leads you down to the water.
On a recent trip to Naarden, a marvel of defensive architecture itself, I passed by a whole series of these bunkers along the coast.
My favourite of these is pictured below.
What fascinates me about this is how the farm has subsumed the bunker. It begs the question; which came first? Has the farm built up around the bunker, taking advantage of now unused land? Or were the Nazi architects, engineers and warmakers so precise with their plan that the bunkers were placed irrespective of local features.
Is this a blown up scale of Bernard Tschumi’s Parc la Villette project where follied are placed at precise intervals to frame space, regardless of geography? This may be a perfect example of plan view architecture where the abstract drawing is directly superimposed on the reality of the landscape. Either way, the farm got a very sturdy barn out of the deal.
This also reminds me of the difference between town planning in the European versus the Japanese tradition. Suffice to say that the roman grid which was used in basically every city in the west, completely ignores contours and geography (Toronto’s ravine system is a good example of this failure) while the Japanese system grows almost organically over slopes and in the landscape. The constant is the plot size, rather than the street, creating a radically different town system. I’ll get into this much more at another time but for now you can head over to my Japanese research for more info.
Miniature update to my post about gates and walls in Zimbabwe
Saw this image on JJJJound and it reminded my of my post. Goes to show how important that very fine boundary is.