Client: Danish Building and Property Agency
Private Donation: grant from the private foundation A.P. Møller og Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond til almene Formaal.
Full Service Consultant: EKJ Consulting Engineers
Engineers: CN3, Vind-Vind
Contractors : M. J. Eriksson (construction contract), NCC Denmark (concrete contract)
Text description provided by the architects. At more than 20,000 m2 Karen Blixens Plads is one of the largest public squares in Copenha- gen. Situated between the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Royal Library’s buildings at the university’s South Campus, the open and welcoming urban space is an innovative, spectacular and multi-functional architectural design that accommodates and promotes green transportation, climate change adaptation, and biodiversity. The project was supported by a generous donation from the private foundation A.P Møller Fonden.
Innovative bicycle parking. The combined public square and university plaza are designed as a carpet that covers an undulating terrain of small hills and breaks the large space up into smaller zones with room for activities both on and inside the hills (domes). The three bicycle hills were created as cast concrete shells clad with hand-laid tiles in colors echoing the exteriors of the surrounding university buildings. In addition to serving as an active meeting place for students, employees, and locals, the square also contains a high-capacity bicycle parking space for the many users of the university, including 16,000 students and 2,000 employees. The innovative and unique design has room for 2,000 bicycles.
Interdisciplinary collaboration. In collaboration with CN3, COBE and EKJ’s construction engineers calculated and created 3D projections of the iconic concrete dome constructions. The solution is based on a shell construction as the load-bearing structure. Aesthetically, the design provides a large airy space underneath the domes. However, while a shell construction does not normally have holes in it, these domes have large openings, which constituted a significant challenge and required additional statistical analyses.
Green profile. In a soft transition, Karen Blixens Plads brings together the university’s need for urban spaces with the open landscape of the neighboring Amager Fælled (Amager Commons). The north side of the square, where the three main entrances to the university are located, is an open and multi-purpose space. To the south, hilly, undulating meadowland connects the campus with the commons. In addition to bringing nature into the campus the landscape also contributes to climate change adaptation by adding a capacity to handle stormwater. Delaying rainwater in depressions in the landscape utilizes the recreational values of the water and creates small wet biotopes that support biodiversity, enable rainwater evaporation and supplements the canal in case of extreme precipitation, thus contributing to climate change adaptation. The design uses simple, sturdy and durable materials, just as lighting and furnishings are kept to a few, simple elements to ensure a sustainable urban space. All the selected elements are low-maintenance and contribute to the square’s green profile.
Outdoor auditorium. A central feature is an outdoor auditorium with seating for up to 1,000 people on the manmade hills. The hilltops offer additional standing room for concerts or other large public events.