Learning from Copenhagen
“Our Urban Living Room” is on view at Aedes Architekturforum in Berlin until 29 April 2020.
COBE – Our Urban Living Room:
Learning from Copenhagen
(new updated and extended version),
Arvinius + Orfeus Publishing,
504 pages, Text English
The city as a living room
At the heart of the exhibition is a giant wooden bookcase showcasing the studio’s photographs, drawings, texts, films and models. Inside the structure is a space to sit and interact with project materials. This symbolizes Cobe’s approach to Copenhagen as an “urban living room” – an extension of one’s own home where the lines blur between private and public space.
“Our city is our home, and that quality is what underpins the success of Copenhagen today…This is not a matter of beauty, elegance or wealth, but a story of social livability and urban democracy,” says architect Dan Stubbergaard, who founded Cobe nearly 15 years ago – the studio’s name stands for the co-founders’ hometowns, Copenhagen and Berlin.
Designing for future generations
The projects on display exemplify Cobe’s core themes, including livability, adaptive reuse and building for future generations. Frederiksvej Kindergarten (2015) draws inspiration from the children it serves with its nesting of simple, pitched-roof houses, giving a familiar feel to a large complex. The monumental Silo (2017) looks forward as much as it looks back: the sculptural steel facade of the luxury residential tower will develop a raw patina in memory of its humble origins as grain storage.
Livability through infrastructure
The link between infrastructure and livability is demonstrated at Nørreport Station (2015) which prioritizes pedestrian flow over cars, and Karen Blixen Plads (2019), where bicycle parking is sheltered by an undulating plaza connecting the university with a green park. Cobe’s biggest project – the Nordhavn district masterplan (competition won in 2008) – will test the resilience of the studio’s vision in the struggle between free-market forces and municipal housing regulations. By 2050, the former industrial zone should become an “urban archipelago with pedestrian infrastructure and green elements”; how the social mix will evolve remains to be seen.
Stubbergaard reveals in one of the films the responsibility he feels as an architect in Copenhagen: “It’s a great privilege to build in the city where you were born and raised. I feel very honored – and I also feel the pressure to produce something good.”