Ok, so a developing neighborhood along the metro line in Amager called Ørestad is getting a lot of attention right now. Some of the attention is positive: It's a new 'sustainable' neighborhood, and a glimpse into the future of design and urban living, etc... Bjarke Ingalls owns an apartment there, and his young architecture firm BIG has designed a large percentage of the housing projects nearby. Yet critics will say that the neighborhood shows complete disregard for the human scale, and everything we know about urban planning via Jane Jacobs.
The buildings are massive, and it takes about 3-5 min to pass by each individual complex on foot (according to Gehl Architect's principles of designing for people, we need much more visual stimuli than that or we become bored). The area is dense, but where are the grocery stores, restaurants, and coffee shops? There are a few, but even crossing the main street (over the highway and under the metro) feels like it requires careful strategic planning. In short, the area was designed for commuters who want to work and play downtown, then take the train 5-10 min max, and be at home in the privacy of their fancy condos. And, I'll admit it feels kind of cool to go breezing through this futuristic neighborhood in the front seat of the driver-less metro with sparkling canals beneath you, and windmills in the distance...
One of the most interesting of the sustainable strategies that are applied in Ørestad is the separation of water into 3 distinct categories: sewage, clean stormwater (from roofs and other 'clean' surfaces, and road runoff (includes parking areas). These three types of water are handled very differently: Sewage is treated at the treatment plant, and never mixes with the other two. Stormwater runs through Ørestad in a series of canals, and eventually drains into protected wetlands beyond the neighborhood. The runoff from roads is collected in a different system of pipes, to be filtered to remove pollutants (this part is still incomplete I believe). Once a successful method has been decided upon, the treated road runoff can be routed into the stormwater canals, which are designed with a variety of different characteristics throughout the district.
For more information, click here.
I also spent some time checking out the new 8HOUSE project by BIG in Southern Ørestad with Ellen. It is a figure 8 shaped building that you can walk over the entire top of (not on the green roof part, but a stairway off to the side). It was interesting, though I'm sure sure I would want to live there...
This is the view from the top of the 8HOUSE. Pretty desolate.
This is the VM houses, also by BIG. It was one of the first projects completed by BIG in Ørestad, and was interesting to see because it seems to be inhabited more than some of the other developments. It is funny to see what people put in the pointy tips of their balconies: BBQ's and potted plants seem to be the winners.
And, of course, here's the Mountain. Parking garage with housing "smeared" across the top. It is lovely from this angle.