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Danish urban design

 

It was a beautiful day today, warm and sunny. I went around Nørrebro in Copenhagen, where I live, and took some pictures of vibrant urban life. Here are some shoots.
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The place where I live is very alternative and people have very different lifestyle here There is no any similar quarter with the same buildings, people background. Every 500m it seems that you are in  a totally different place. Many foreigners, hipstersstudents, young families with children of all races and creeds. There is a pile of snack places with very different food, which are kept by the locals.
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Recently, there were developed many public spaces, made by famouse danish urban designers. For example The Red Square, with all shades of red on the pavement, on the walls, on the swings and so on. Life on the area is in full swing.
Literally next door is another park , which was conceived with the young living in the nearby quarter, that is the most criminal in the area. Park is brightly painted, stocked climbing wall, bars, skate pool, etc. m. There is full of people on of all ages in a sunny day.
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Grafitti art is a quite an issue in the area, it is just everywhere.  Discharged special walls for painting,  “free artists” paint everywhere. In my photo guys are refreshing their graffiti painting and a sceptical girl is watching from the bike stroller. By the way, they are painting on the building site fence and all those drawings are updated regularly.

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So how do you like this urban design? Is this something you would enjoy in your living area?
The last picture is me, looking very sceptical. I criticize the design space due to the lack of greenery and an overabundance of hard surfaces: asphalt, concrete, this is not sustainable urban design in my book. 🙂

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Cycling Mileage in Kharkiv, East Ukraine

During my trip to Ukraine (the last 4 weeks) I have taken part in the action “Respect bicycle on the road” in Kharkiv.

It happened that a friend of mine is  an avid cyclist and hence the fighter for the rights of cyclists on the road. It should be noted that cycling in Ukraine is radically different from Denmark or The Netherlands, where I have experienced to bike. In Kharkiv, cycling can be equated to extreme sports. First of all there is no infrastructure for cyclists. Cyclists ride along with cars, and using the same traffic lights on the road. This means that the cyclist begins his movement on the general traffic light, and thus delayed the start. How important it could be one understand from the situation when the car turns right, and thus, starting the first, cut off a cyclist of his intentions to move straight. In this situation, the cyclist is forced to give the way to the car physically, since the collision is inevitable. The solution to rank the bicycle in this case is to set up special traffic lights for cyclists, which turn on the green light for 4-5 seconds earlier, and thus give the rider the opportunity to start moving first.

Here I give a picture of bicycle traffic light in Copenhagen. As you can see bicyclists have their own traffic lights that are placed in the same column but smaller. Some of them have also the bicycle sign above.
And with close-up.

But back to the bicycle trip. So we gathered altogether at the sixth largest square in Europe, that is the Freedom Square in Kharkiv, East Ukraine. The square area is 11.9 ha.
We were around 30 persons. Here on the picture you can see the giant statue of Lenin that gives us guidance for a happy trip! 😉
There are Kharkiv National University, Gosprom Building (the monument of constructivism) and The Military Academy behind the Lenin’s statue.


And we are ready to go!

Our route led through different parts of the city. Thus we wanted to attract the attention of as many as possible drivers to us. Our motto was for tolerance and respect on the road! But sometimes it was difficult to bike because of high polluted air, bad road condition, and absence of bicycle infrastructure.

But despite this we have no losses and have reached the forest park, where he made a time out. It was a perfect place to make a group picture. So here we go, the bicycle heroes, as I call them in Kharkiv.
And some close-up.

By the way the building behind one of the participants is not a crematorium, it is a very famous Kharkiv Opera House.
I think that the degree of mismatch function and the aesthetic image of the building is on a par with the opera house in Copenhagen.

We made also a stop at the Zerkalnaya Struya (a graceful arbor with a small waterfall at its base):  the symbol of Kharkiv, so this trip was also quite informative and educational for me. On the picture below you can see the friend of mine Sergei and me standing proudly at the foot of that small fountain.

Next we drove through the city center, and luckily for us it was Saturday, so there was no traffic congestion. But I still counted enough violations by motorists to see the relevance of our bike ride. It must be noted that the drivers were very surprised by the number of cyclists, as we followed each other. I think that seeing the number of cyclists in Copenhagen (official statistic says that up to 36% of citizens bike), the drivers would have thought that the world has gone mad.

The journey ended near the stadium Metalist, which is completely reconstructed for the European Football Championship. What?  You do not know that Ukraine will be hosting the Euro 2012? By the degree of  football propaganda in Ukraine it can be compared only to the arrival of General Secretary of the Politburo in some seedy former Soviet republic. In Ukraine, everybody knows about Euro 2012, even the tea leaves in tea.

Thus ended our 2-hour bike ride, sometimes extreme, sometimes reckless, that proved once again that the sustainable development of cities has always depends on the position of the inhabitants, and if we want to improve living conditions in the city,we should start with these small but important bottom-up initiatives: biking, sorting house waste, use the public transport, cooperate with each other to improve green areas etc.


I am very pleased that I met the bicycle activists in Kharkiv, and I want to thank them for the invitation to take part in the trip. It was fun and energetic! I want to wish you a safe bicycling, always a good summer weather, and that the city administration begin to build a bicycle paths as soon as possible for you!
Here’s my comic greetings from Copenhagen. Fight for your rights on the road! 🙂

Copenhagen Design Week 2011

October 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Copenhagen Design Week took place at the 1st – 6th of September in Copenhagen. I got a chance to work as volunteer there and can say now there was very inspiring and rich atmosphere. The event had motto Think Human and it was the main message of every single product presented. Designers presented their ideas not only having human in mind as a customer, but also trying to solve the major social challenges in both national and global scale.

The whole event was driven by The Danish Design Centre and was organised as  sequence of exhibitions, talks, master classes and Index Award ceremony.

The main event at the Copenhagen Design Week was the Index: awards ceremony “Design to improve life”. Index: is a world known design award which is the largest cash design prize in the world 500 000 euro covering the five categories: Body, Home, Play, Work and Community. Many of the finalists works were presented directly at the open air exhibition by the Royal Danish Playhouse, in special designed boxes-pavilions by Greg Lynn & Christian Ditlev Bruun. Inside of the pavilion was a transparent box with one or other product. Among those works were a number of major trends, by that i mean the finalist projects was showing a proven impact and were not just creative ideas but already operational and implemented designs. Main areas of design works were at the educational, healthcare and community scale level.

So let us see the winners and think about how that creative ideas can help to save the world.

Body Category_ The Body Category comprises all designs related to the human body, such as: dress, shoes, different devices and appliances used in treatment and care and body-related technology, and online services. Some of the nominates: Pure Water Bottle, Lung-on-chip, Janma the clean birth kit, 21st century nursing bag, adjustable glasses and others. And the winner is..SEE BETTER TO LEARN BETTER! – free eyeglasses program  for school children in Mexico. It is a collection of customizable eyeglasses for children ages 6-18 years. The glasses are very stylish and by its design change the child’s attitude from  wearing glasses and being drilled as handicap towards a very fashionable and personal choice to break that stereotype. The designer Yves Behar used an engineering plastic with a hyper-flexible property to make the glasses practically unbreakable and suitable for a child’s constantly changing needs. Glasses help kids to see better and give them a better chance to succeed in school and in further life. All states of Mexico are expected to get 400 000 glasses this year.

Collage is made of pictures taken from BrainPickings.org and designboom.com

Home Category_The Home Category includes all design works related to theme Architecture, Interior Design, Furniture, Tools, Utility systems and online services. Some of the nominates: Biolite home stove (a cooking stove that cuts emissions by 95% generating off-grid electricity), Bware water meter (a small device that show how much of running water are in use), Evacuation Shelter (a vital place for survivors in a natural disaster situation) and others. And the winner is…ELEMENTAL MONTERREY! – 70 incremental housing complex in Monterrey. Social housing complex provides 70 basic housing with bathrooms, kitchens and staircases – living areas for people who have under middle-income standard. The housing complex will be placed in growing cities that face growing slum challenge. The important thing is to build a house in two steps: first half (36 sq.m.) is built with a public money support and it is a basic construction part that requires coordination (basic utilities and infrastructure). By using the old 70’s incremental housing an open system was suggested, that allows further growth to occur within the structure and at the time when people can afford it. This approach is seen to solve the problem of social housing that is unable to accommodate the diversity of people needs and preferences.

Collage is made of pictures taken by Ramiro Ramirez.

Play Category_The Play Category includes all design works related to sport, play, leisure and culture. Some of the nominates: a Solar powered media player and radio, The Learning Landscape (an educational playground where children can be physically active and learn while they play), The dream ball project (footballs made by recycling famine relief packaging), Un Global Dilemma game (the game that helps businesses to understand relevant issues through the role-play complex situations). And the winner is…HOVDING! – a bicycle helmet that is practical, ergonomic, safe and support you’re wearing style. Designed by Anna Haupt & Terese Alstin (Sweden) the Hovding is a collar that has a folded up airbag that inflates in case of accident. The airbag is deployed by sensors – accelerometers and gyros – that pick up a bicyclist’s abnormal movements in the event of an accident. The sensors then send a signal to the gas inflator to inflate the airbag.  The collar is not only can protect against serious skull injuries, but also is fashionable because of its shape like a hood around the neck. The shell surrounds the collar can change its look when you feel like it. It can appear in different design, color, patterns and fabric that makes Hovdning more like a fashion accessory. Moreover it is easy to carry around, it is washable and it will save your life!

Collage is made of pictures from hovdning.com

Work Category_The Work Category comprises all design works related to work environment, such as Architecture and Interior Design, work tools, education, manufactory machines, online services etc. Some of the nominates: AskNature Biomimicry Website (free open source website that catalogs nature’s survival strategies by biological function), MycoBond (a sustainable alternative to styrofoam, grown using mushroom roots), Puma: Clever little bag (bag and box system that is easy to assembly and completely recyclable) and others. And the winner is…

DESIGN FOR CHANGE! – a method (or a design process) that gives children all over the globe an opportunity to express their own ideas and to create their own future. The process got children to Feel, to Imagine, to Do and to Share with a help of a toolkit that include guidelines, teacher tips and possible examples of a change story. Design for Change aims to help children change their life situation and improve the quality of life. By learning how to act and change their life condition children become more competent and less helpless. In countries where children are forced by life condition to work, to get married and to get birth under 15-16 years old, the Design for Change will allow them to design the future that they wish.

Community Category_The Community Category includes all design works that made to share by community, such as roads, public spaces, parks, infrastructure, means of transport, services and concepts for societies, design strategies, networking etc. Some of the nominates: Refugees United (a global database centralizing information on separated families), T.27 (a pure electric vehicle), Shokay (a sustainable source of employment and income in Tibet region), Watair (dew and rainwater collectors with clean water supply and treatment) and others. And the winner is…DESIGN SEOUL! – the first coherent design based approach to improve city life in a very large city. The design approach has people-oriented solutions to solve social, environmental and public health problems. Design Seoul has five principles: Airy, Integrated, Preserving, Collaborative and Sustainable Design. It was implemented in public spaces, buildings, facilities, visual media, outdoor advertisement etc. Some examples of urban revitalizing in Seoul: the Gwanghwamun Square Project that has transformed part of 16-lane road without a walkway into a new public space, the Dassan Call Center, which is a telephone service that has revolutionized city services in Seoul, the reconstruction of the Mount NamPark District into a public accessible tourist venue and others. Design Seoul is a good example of how the use of design solutions make city more healthy, more ecological, more fun place to work and live in.

Collage made of pictures from wikipedia.org and forbescustom.com

Gosh, there were so many very talented designs at the Copenhagen Design Week ! Hope you also enjoy to read about some of them:)


Copenhagen’s Red Square

September 8, 2011 1 comment

Recently I have seen those pictures of the famous Superkilen project on the Facebook, and they are very popular, and than I realised that it could be interesting to describe it. I live just around the corner of that place and pass it everyday, so I can post more fresh reports from there then anyone else does. As the square is still under construction and  there is no public life yet, it got plenty of attention mostly because it is painted in all possible red tones.

This picture was taken from http://www.guerrilla-innovation.com

and I have seen the same one in the Facebook. Quite fascinating, hah?

From this picture you can see the Nørrebrogade below where is the bus appears and the big roofs of Nørrebro Hall above.

The Superkilen is located at the Nørrebro district in Copenhagen, area where work people lived since its founding, but now it is a focus area for transformation. There is a multicultural atmosphere due to many foreigners and relevant cheap housing. Nørrebro is full of life day and night, the streets attract people to visit different ethnical shops, eating places, fruit markets and so on. Nørrebrogade is the central artery that has an essential amount of street activities on the daily basis. In 2008 municipality started en experimental traffic project at Nørrebrogade, that main purpose was to reduce car traffic and create wider bicycle lanes and sidewalk. The experiment showed increased amount of bicyclists and walkers, so now the street is under construction. Some parts of the street become one-way bus lane, on others parts car lanes are much narrow and bike lanes are wider up to 3 meters. Sidewalk is expanded so the cafes and shops can have outside tables and stands. The bus lane is painted bright orange color to indicate the one-way street for drivers.

Now back to the square.

The Copenhagen’s Red square is located around 5-6 min bike from the start of Nørrebrogade, and it just nearby Nørrebro Hallen, the multipurpose sport and life activity center for locals, the renovated old industrial building. There is also library around the corner and other sport and culture places. The square position is perpendicular to the Nørrebrogade and it is also part of the green bicycle route connecting different parts of Copenhagen. So the place has a great potential to become a true vital center not only for locals but for the passers-by as well.

The square is a part of  extensional development Superkilen that rich the border of the Nørrebro on the other side. Superkilen itself is divided to be the Red Square (place for street games), The Green Park (meeting point for locals) where the soft hills are designed,and the Black Square (a place with a new outdoor market).

As far as I can see the Red Square is almost finished, the Green Park is kind of half done and the Black Square is just started to develop.

So let’s sneak a bit and see how the exciting Red Square is going look like. Different variation of red colors  make it very bright, especially for the grey Copenhagen weather almost all year around. The square’s floor offer different courts for all kinds of street ball games, badminton, hockey, ping-pong and other city sports. Such a constant flow of sport will hopefully attract young people to do something more healthy than just drinking beer, smoke and doing drugs.

The signs and square’s furniture is also quite special due to its international origins from different countries all over the globe. Here you can find index marks and advertising signs from China, Russia, USA, some furniture comes from Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Kuwait, bike racks from Norway, playground from Japan etc. That symbolizes a multiethnic and cultural tolerance at Nørrebro. There are lives more than 60 nationalities at Nørrebro.

Superkilen development is designed by Superflex, BIG and TOPOTEK1.

The cost of  whole development (the Red Square, the Green Park and the Black Square) is 13.4 mln Euro with a part of subsidy from Real Dania foundation of 6.7mln Euro.

Don’t miss my entry about the square opening soon!

U.S.E. T.W.O.

September 7, 2011 Leave a comment

U.S.E  T.W.O. was en open air workshop and exhibition organized by Bureau Detours (Aarhus, Denmark) supervised by Dennis Design Center (Rotterdam, Holland).

The living workshop was open from the 8th until the  21st of August in Copenhagen during Metropolis Biennale activity.

The workshop was placed at the Prags Boulevard in Copenhagen, at the open street space between Prags Garden (urban agriculture project developed by locals)  and Prismen (CultureHouse for the local district Amager), the famous project of Dorte Mandrup Architects that deserve a special entry.

The place is also quite an experimental in itself because of the diverse urban environments, it is on the middle between big scale industrial areas and Amager residential area.

The workshop consisted of 3-4 bright orange  iron containers turned up to be creative generators. There people enjoyed building wooden furniture: benches, swings, tables etc. that were placed overall in the city.

That how different creative playgrounds looked like.

The corner with a tree house, cooking place, music corner, tall bike workshop etc.

The tall bike workshop got a lot of attention from local  teenagers and passers-by.

You can see yourself how cool it looks! the tall bike in use!

Everyone had possibility to make their own tall bike, just come with two bikes and voilà! after 3-4 hours you can ride it to the envy of all!

The masterpiece of wood processing

were the wooden diamonds of course:  faceted to shine pieces of wood.

Grill bike, urban swing, free furniture and towers brought also a great joy to users.

A special point deserves the graffiti art at workshop area.

Bright colors, good detailed drawings, meaningful texts – that what we love about GRAFFITI!

It was such a pleasure to watch the art work of Bureau Detours, Bolsje Fabrikken and Dennis Design Center together that I want to say :

Hats off to the true talented artists!

 

 

Harmonic Fields

August 19, 2011 3 comments

The Metropolis Biennale is at full blast in Copenhagen and I keep posting photo reports of  some performances.

Today Im gonna tell you about the project Harmonic Fields made by Pierre Sauvageot/ Lieux Publics & Cie, Marseille.

In my opinion it is one of the most impressive and largest project of the Metropolis Biennale this year.

500 musical installations powered by the wind were placed at Amager Beach (10 min by bike from the city center).

The environment around was full with different kinds of sound: rattle, drone, whistling, clink-clank, ringing, grating and any possible kind of noise effects. The instruments appear as small scale UFO’s and give the feeling that aliens somewhere close :).

The whole landscape was covered by unusual looking mechanisms that communicate with surroundings by the sound. Some of them look like music boxes, or a very arty drum sets, but others are just art objects. There are also  bamboo flutes in a semicircle, stringed instruments, propellers, wind harps and carillons.

The wind orchestra turned the city beach into musical park, where music harmony combines with the power of nature. Music adds magnetic quality to the landscape where every step open a new experience. The combination of sustainable power source and acoustic effects made by 500 totems, create a marvellous emotional space with a full emotional palette.

I encourage everyone to come and look, because the visual effect has the same power as the sound one.

Bodies in Urban Space

Last Friday I have seen a live performance Bodies in Urban Space, presented by 20 dancers, parkour practitioners and circus artists. The task for the audience was very simple – follow the crowd and look around to find volatile human sculptures. They could be anywhere and even in most unexpected places: between call-boxes, on the light pole, at a doorway, on the staircases etc. Participants come into position or grouped very fast and freeze motionless up to 10-15 min, that make them look like a bright addition to the urban space.

Bodies in Urban Space is a result of co-operation between participants and famous choreographer Willi Dorner, who was working with different experimental festivals in Europe and USA.  By artworks and performances the artist give new visual angle to everyday urban life.

“Whether it’s people spilling out of doorways, climbing up trees, crouched on rows of steps or sandwiched into concrete crevices, the idea is all about looking at the city afresh – about looking at the urban environment and the city architecture differently, and they use bodies to get a new perspective on architectural surroundings.” – quoted from Time Out.

I post pictures taken by Yuliya Klimenko during the performance. That action was quite impressive and very cool! Enjoy:))