Karen Blixens Plads: Bicycles nestled in attractive caves

Urban spaces

Karen Blixens Plads
Rasmus Hjortshøj COAST
 

An imaginative landscape of stone and concrete ties together the University of Copenhagen’s many people and buildings.

Karen Blixens Plads, a public square at the university’s Søndre Campus in Amager, is unlike anywhere else in the city. The square is so simple and organized that everything makes immediate sense at first glance: bikes under tall hills, hangouts above and around an unimpeded pathway across the square for those passing through. But the experience evolves and changes for every step you take: new contours emerge, lines become visible, and the lighting under the hills changes character. Although it is almost exclusively made of yellow brick and concrete, few people notice that they are in a space as big as Copenhagen Town Hall Square.

The logic is so simple that architecture critics mentioned Hobbits and Teletubbies when the square opened in the summer of 2019. And they didn’t mean it negatively. On the contrary, it says much about the success of COBE Architects in transforming a gigantic and angular space into something organic and friendly with a bare minimum of materials. There are plenty of impressions already in the everyday lives of the thousands of people who study and work at Søndre Campus. And with them comes the potential Copenhagen chaos of thousands of bikes everywhere. The solution to that very problem served as the starting point for the square’s design. 

Karen Blixen Plads is adjacent to long green stretches along canals and to many of Ørestad Nord’s experimental buildings, such as Tietgen Residence Hall, IT University of Copenhagen and DR Byen. 

Fun facts 

  • The hills and greenery, which will grow over time, also serve as a windbreak for the wind that often blows from Amager Common to the south and along the tall buildings. 
  • The internationally acclaimed author Karen Blixen did not have anything to do with the University of Copenhagen. However, one of the roads leading up to the square is called Karen Blixens Vej. One of the reasons the square has a name is so that first responders can find it quickly in the event of an emergency.
  • COBE Architects has designed many of Copenhagen’s interesting new squares and urban spaces, including Israels Plads, Nørreport Station, and the staircase at the headquarters of Danish Red Cross. 

Close by

  • Continue along Karen Blixens Vej to Amager Common. Here you will find miles of trails in the enormous outdoor space, which can cause you to forget that you are in a big city.
  • Or walk the other way down to the harbor. Here you will pass through the historic Copenhagen blocks of the Islands Brygge district, with their many small shops and cafes in courtyards and on side streets. 
     

Area

Ørestad

Architect

Cobe

Client

Bygningsstyrelsen

Engineer

EKJ Rådgivende ingeniører
CN3

Contractor

M.J. Eriksson A/S
NCC

Collaborator

A.P. Møller Fonden

Built

2019