June 29th, 2011

Orestad, Copenhagen

As though I were a guinea pig, prepared to be tortured to death for your learning, I have come to stay a whole week in Daniel Libeskind's Holocaust Hotel in the bubble-economy inflatable town of Orestad, South of Copenhagen. This is an island formerly used for dumping Copenhagenites' shit. Now they dump big fuck-off buildings out here, by Libeskind and Bjarke Ingels, just up the road from even bigger FOs by the likes of Nouvel. My comrade in bike blogging, Mikael Colville-Andersen, has kindly been getting me smashed on local beer, in the old/real part of town, in case too much time out here on shit-island should leave me like Jack Nicholson in that last scene of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. 

But Orestad is cycle-space! Huge brownfield tracts, cut into big parcels for big pension funds to develop, and laid out with way-too generous pedestrian space, just perfect for cycling: this is what I call cycle-space. In any other city than Copenhagen, this would be the most bike-friendly area, giving cycling a foothold in car-ville. In car-loving cities, or moped cities (as Copenhagen could yet become), the continuous parkways snaking through areas like these, compare well, to older parts of town congested with cars. 
  
It is just that Orestad stands beside a great cycling metropolis, and is way way bigger than normal brownfields. Neither does it flank something uplifting, like a harbour. Yes, and it is quite a way out of town. Oh, and it is on a windy plane that I can only imagine will be unbearable 3 months from now, when Autumn hits. How to combat those drawbacks? Inflate the place packed full of brand-named starchitecture and public art!

Well, 3 days in, and I could not give a flying fudge cake if god himself designed this hotel I am cooped up in, writing this entry. Jean Nouvel can go to hell: knowing he is famous, and designed that blue building, does not edify me in the slightest. I'll confess, 8-House, by BIG, with its bike access ramp to replace regular corridors, does provide smashing amenity, and reasonably high density, but enough that I would want to live there? Oh gee, I've cooked my goose here!

Alright, here's what I'm thinking, that cycle-space is nice to visit, to commute via, to head on down to for drinks or a coffee, but personally, I would not want to live in any of these places, with their big new mixed-use buildings. Give me an old terrace house area, flanking cycle-space, so I can use cycle-space for my commute, but actually live some place else. That's what I choose. In Copenhagen, the Sunbyoster area, with cycle-space/Orestad on one side, and the beach on the other, might be the ticket.

The problem, you know, are those pension funds. Without them, land would be sold in small parcels, to small time developers, who would give us diversity within the perimeter block format. Never mind though...