Saturday, 13 August 2011

Faces of Copenhagen

Østergade Walkabout 11Many years ago, I took a course on the History of Western Architecture from Shane O’Dea. Shane was a great teacher and really brought the subject to life for me. I found it interesting to learn how we “decorated” our buildings and how building styles evolved over the centuries. The lengths to which owners, builders, and architects would go to make a public statement using their sense of style was fascinating. Perhaps that is why I love going walkabout in European cities. The variation in building styles is very stimulating and Copenhagen is no exception. You can see the famous Danish sense of style in their public buildings and in how they decorate their communal spaces.

Style usually provokes an emotion in people, no matter if it is the exterior of Gaudí’s Sagrada Família or the clothes the Lady Gaga wears during a performance. Photography is like that, too. A good photo can provoke an emotion as people react to the photographer’s interpretation of what he saw.

Here are some images that reflect what I saw and felt as I walked about three Copenhagen residential neighborhoods. I chose residential areas because a home’s façade is a bit like the clothes people wear: it is a public statement of their personal style.


Nyboder
I started in Nyboder, a neighborhood built in 1631 by Christian 4. to accommodate the enlisted personnel of the Danish Navy. At the time, Nyboder would have been well outside of Copenhagen. As the centuries passed, the city expanded well past Nyboder and I would now consider it to be in the heart of the city.

I am sure Nyboder has been renovated many times over the centuries. However, the premises looked pretty run down when I was there last. I returned on this trip to see if things had changed, and if not, to capture some more images.

The property definitely has a military feel to it. The buildings are laid out in neat rows and the façades are very sparse. All the buildings are the same yellow colour. Interestingly, this yellow hue is so unique, the Danes have a name for it: Nyboder Yellow.

The sparseness and consistency of the neighborhood is pretty much what you might expect of an area where Navy personnel live and probably reflect military values. However, this scheme works against the designer when the yellow exterior fades and cracks like it has. The area picks up a distinctly welfare feel, which I doubt is what the designers intended.

Nyboder Walkabout 1

Nyboder Walkabout 2

Nyboder Walkabout 4

Nyboder Walkabout 3

Nyboder Walkabout 5

Nyboder Walkabout 6



A much larger slide show of these photos is here.



Østergade
Nyboder is in the Østergade area of Copenhagen. In between it and the King’s Garden are some newer housing complexes. This area was the second neighbourhood I toured.

By ‘newer’, I mean built after those in Nyboder, but make no mistake; these are still very old by my North American standards. Certainly the worn bricks and slightly sagging structures hint that these buildings are centuries old.

Like Nyboder, there are some similarities in the houses due to the fact that the homes are row housing and construction would have dictated a certain sameness. For example, each unit has a door in the exact same place (always on the left facing the unit). Also, there are two windows to the right of the door and there is the same slight arch over the door and windows.

Unlike the regimented sameness of Nyboder (which is still used to house enlisted personnel), I found the homes in this area had more individual personalities. The walls were painted different colours and the doors were painted to complement the colours on the walls. Random bits of vegetation completed the individualization of each unit.

Østergade Walkabout 2

Østergade Walkabout 1

Østergade Walkabout 3

Østergade Walkabout 4

Østergade Walkabout 5

Østergade Walkabout 6

Østergade Walkabout 7

Østergade Walkabout 8

Østergade Walkabout 9

Østergade Walkabout 11

Østergade Wlkabout 12


A large slideshow of these photos is here.


EDIT - Jens Rost commented on my Flickr Stream for some clarifying information:

It's not "Østergade", as Google Map roughly suggest, but "Krusemyntegade" in the area known as "Byggeforeningshusene ved Nyboder" (The Building Society's Houses at Nyboder")

Østergade is a part of the area known a "Strøget", a couple of pedestrian streets in the inner city. The so called "Medieval Town of Copenhagen". Very few houses remains from this period in time mainly because of some big fires, one of them was started by the British Royal Marine in 1807.

It's "water under the bridge" now (almost).




Christianhavn
The third neighborhood that I visited was Christianhavn. While I have done walkabouts in Nyboder and Østergade before, Christianhavn was new territory for me.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that Christian 4 created Christianhavn. That guy really left his mark on Copenhagen. It seems Christianhavn is an artificial island that he had made as part of building up Copenhagen’s fortifications. Originally inhabited by merchants in 1639, the place is about the same age as Nyboder. Back then, enlisted sailors and merchants would have been worlds apart in social status and certainly the difference in the architecture reflects that.

This historic disparity persists today, as Christianhavn has retained its upscale atmosphere. The only commonality with Nyboder is that the buildings are “row” style and all the doors are on the “left”. Everything else is different.

Christianhavn Walkabout 2

Christianhavn Walkabout 4

Christianhavn Walkabout 1

Christianhavn Walkabout 3

Christianhavn Walkabout 5

Christianhavn Walkabout 6


A large slide show of these photos is here.




This wraps up my Postcard posts for this trip to Copenhagen. Here are links to all of my posts from this visit:
Faces of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Postcards
Copenhagen Walkabout - Oddities
Postcards from the Bryghus
Postcards from Louisiana MoMA
A Game of Thrones
Postcards from the Glyptotek


Read more...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Copenhagen Postcards

Copenhagen Walkabout 16In between visiting the wonderful Danish museums and art galleries, I spent a lot of time walking about with my camera. Here is a potpourri of Postcards from these walkabouts.


I came away with a bad impression of Danish mass transport following our trip to the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. That is not to say that there are no photographic opportunities involving the train in Copenhagen. I took this shot while waiting for the train on my way back from my visit to the Carlsberg Bryghus. Not surprisingly, I gave up waiting for it and left by this udgang to walk back to the hotel.

Copenhagen Walkabout

The weather during our visit was very unsettled. In the lead-up to a huge storm, the clouds were very billowy. The way the sun was shining on them gave them a lot of tone and texture.

Copenhagen Walkabout

Copenhagen Walkabout

Copenhagen Walkabout


When it wasn't pouring rain, the sun was quite gorgeous. A bright sun makes for great abstract shots using water reflections, such as this tree. I shot it in the water of the Kastellet's moat. If you look closely, you can see two people dressed in white walking on the top of the moat's earthen wall, just beneath the tree.

Copenhagen Walkabout


Here is another tree, springing up out of a paved courtyard, spreading its seed around in vain while a bird struts around underneath.

Copenhagen Walkabout


I was able to add to my Lonely Soldiers collection during my walkabouts. Here are two Lonely Soldiers just sitting alone on a sidewalk early in the morning, as if they are waiting for someone to let them back into the house.

Copenhagen Walkabout


I usually find Lonely Soldiers during my dawn walkabouts, since they are "cleaned up" during the day. Here is one that I discovered upon my return to the hotel at the end of the day. He was just sitting in a bicycle basket pondering the next step in his career path.

Copenhagen Walkabout


I finally made it to Christianshavn. On my walk to the island, I went over the bridge on Torvegade. It appears to be a drawbridge, as does the bridge I used on my way back (on Langebro). That is, they had towers that only make sense to be there if they are used to control the bridge-openings and river traffic. These towers are made from copper, which gives a very nice patina when it ages. The colours and texture of the patina along with the geometry of the lines in the copper drew me in and I did a quick study using them.

Copenhagen Walkabout

Copenhagen Walkabout

Interestingly, you can see the Langebro bridge from the "porthole" in the tower on the Torvegade bridge.

Copenhagen Walkabout


One of my favourite visits on this trip was to the Rundetårn (Round Tower). Christian 4. had it built in 1637 as an astronomical observatory. Instead of stairs, a ramp leads up from the street to the observation platform. If stairs had been used, they would have been quite steep, as you can see in this very short flight of stairs that are near the top.

Copenhagen Walkabout

The ramp is used to access not only the observatory, but also a library and the bell ringer's loft (to the attached church). Moving books in and out of the library and also moving equipment up to the observatory would have been quite a chore. A ramp becomes an obvious choice over stairs, especially one wide enough for a horse and carriage.

Still, the ramp is fairly steep itself as it turns 7.5 times on its way up to the top of the tower. There are no lights, only what is provided naturally from a few windows. It is also crowded with tourists on their way to and from the viewing platform at the top.

Despite these two challenges, I wanted to make a Postcard to show how the light from those windows plays on the white of the walls. The walls are a stark contrast to the dark brick in the floor. I patiently took several photos over a long period of time, which I have pieced together as a panoramic shot.

Copenhagen Walkabout

The hardest part in making the above photograph was waiting for people to move on. Some people liked to stop and look at what I was doing. Other people would stop in one of the alcoves to take a break and look out the window. I usually waited them out, but I accidentally captured someone's shadow just as they passed out of view. It hangs on the wall, like a ghost patrolling the ramp. You may want to go to this version in order to see a full-sized view. Can you spot the "ghost" ?

One of the places I revisited was the Royal Palace. The guards there make wonderful subjects, as you can see in this shot from a few years ago. This time, I caught one of them looking at me while I took his photo. In the stare-down between us, I could hear Al Pacino screaming "YOU LOOKING AT ME?". You may need to click on the photo to go to a larger size in order to see the guard's face.

Copenhagen Walkabout 16


Here are links to all of my posts from this visit:
Faces of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Postcards
Copenhagen Walkabout - Oddities
Postcards from the Bryghus
Postcards from Louisiana MoMA
A Game of Thrones
Postcards from the Glyptotek

Read more...

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Copenhagen Walkabout - Oddities

Copenhagen Walkabout OdditiesI had a very prolific stay in Copenhagen, photographically speaking that is. Since I took so many shots, it is not very surprising that I ended up with a few photos that defy classification. There are some interesting stories behind some of these shots, however, so I thought I would put them all in a single post before I blog about some of my other Copenhagen Postcards.

I will start first explaining more about why these people are running.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


Why do you think hordes of people would be running about the city in the rain? If you said they were running in the Copenhagen Marathon, you would be wrong. They are actually running to this store,

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


where the staff call their number,

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


so they can order the world's best Danish pastry.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

The food was so good, I ate breakfast AND lunch there a two days in a row!

On many of my walkabouts I saw a lot of dogs. My dog Bobb would have been right at home. It seems the Danes have an affection for dogs and they take them everywhere. They take their dogs in shopping carts.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

They also take their dogs on their bicycles, two at a time.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


For the cat lovers out there, I came across this sculpture of a cat. This, by itself, is not out of the ordinary,

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

but when someone leaves a ball of yarn in front of a cat sculpture for it to play with, well, that is something I just have to shoot!

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


Not far from where I shot the cat and her yarn, was a church with some benches outside. If you look very closely, you will see that the ends of these benches are actually sculptures!

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

At another church, I saw a couple of things I have never seen inside a church before. The first was a clock.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

I am not sure why a congregation would have a clock installed. Doesn't that go against some sort of unwritten rule?

The second odd thing I saw were these pews next to the clock. They had benches on BOTH sides of the pew. Is that so they could prepare to sprint out of church when the service was over?

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


What's not odd is the Danish sense of style. Here is a fire escape stairway in one of the museums, with the wall painted to complement the wood tones and the colours in the artwork.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

Huh? Artwork in a fire escape? Only in Denmark!


While on a walkabout I got to see my first stork. Nothing odd in that, I guess, except I have never seen a stork before.

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


On another walkabout I came across a hotel that was built on a barge. It appeared to have only 8 rooms, which would almost put it in the "bed and breakfast" class of accommodation. Certainly the prices on their website seemed more in line with B&B prices than the price our hotel was charging!

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities


I will close my walkabout oddities post with this souvenir shot of a restaurant just around the corner from the hotel. What are the odds of visitors from Halifax coming across "The Original Halifax Restaurant" in a city of 1.2 million people?

Copenhagen Walkabout Oddities

Here are links to all of my posts from this visit:
Faces of Copenhagen
Copenhagen Postcards
Copenhagen Walkabout - Oddities
Postcards from the Bryghus
Postcards from Louisiana MoMA
A Game of Thrones
Postcards from the Glyptotek

Read more...