Operational centre, Copenhagen
COPENHAGEN (DK) - Collaboration between two architectural firms is nothing unusual. In the case of Karres and Brands and Polyform Arkitekter, however, the collaboration is across borders, both literally and figuratively. It concerns a prestigious project in the historic city centre of Copenhagen. In 2008, the joint venture of Karres and Brands and Polyform, together KBP.EU, won the competition to redesign an important shopping street, Købmagergade, and its connected city squares. Together with the squares of Hauser Plads, Kultorvet and around Trinitatis Church, the curvy street lies in the centre of the medieval city. The project comprises the first large-scale intervention here in 30 years. While Købmagergade will be upgraded with a stone paving in pixelated gradients, ranging from white to black, the three squares each have their own characteristic look. The first one to be finished is Hauser Plads.
KPB.EU had already made a design for the square, a hilly playground landscape consisting of grassy knolls of different sizes and specially designed recreational features, but the brief changed. The city was looking for a definite location for housing the previously temporary offices of the City Cleaning Facilities. These needed to be close to the city centre to minimize travel time. The challenge was how to integrate 1000 m2 of office space for 100 employees, plus parking, into a compact medieval centre. The Købmagergade project offered opportunities, since large-scale construction works would be on hand anyway, but needed to integrate with a project that had already obtained a new and finished design.
The solution seems simple; the offices are lowered into the ground, stacking the already conceived playground above it. Offices, changing rooms, showers, kitchen and parking facilities for the cleaning vehicles are all placed underneath the streetscape. The main feature of the combined design is a sunken patio that allows daylight to penetrate the office spaces. This open space, around which the offices are located, is a hidden underground courtyard, free of noise from the outside world. Its contours fit seamlessly into the landscape of the playground above. The curvy atrium lets in a flood of daylight and organizes the office spaces, creating a pleasant working environment. Maple trees and grasses in the sunken garden will offer a natural view, eliminating any reference of being underground. The garden offers a place for a pause, a microclimate within the city.
Logistically, the location in the city centre saves huge amounts of time. KBP.EU managed to create a surprisingly light and optimistic underground office, hidden from passers-by, which fits neatly into the surrounding historical fabric.
Friday | 2 December | 2011 | Denmark | Hannah Schubert & Joost de Natris