After returning to Copenhagen after two weeks in sunny Portugal and slightly less sunny (but warm) Spain, I discovered a very unwelcome trend in Copenhagen’s fall climate — the sun just doesn’t shine in November. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it rains all the time, or even that it’s that much colder than the weather I’m used to at home, but the sun is constantly hidden behind an overcast sky. Paired with the fact that we’re down to about eight hours of light per day, Copenhagen has been pretty dreary place to spend the past few weeks. Naps have made themselves a commonplace in my schedule, and I’m burning through my 100-pack of Ikea tealight candles much faster than expected.
Although this weekend was possibly the worst of them all (we’re talking sideways rain and 60-mile-per-hour winds for two days straight), there was a very bright and sunny light at the end of the tunnel that I had been watching in the weather forecast for days — today, Copenhagen saw its first cloudless sky in months. In preparation for this perfect fall day, I decided that I would leave my kollegium early and walk the long way to class to see some of the areas of the city that I haven’t ventured out to in months.
I finished with class at 1:00 and decided that I would take the Metro out to Ørestad, a very modern development on the outskirts of Copenhagen that focuses on sustainable and environmentally-conscious architecture, particularly residential buildings. Although I had been there briefly with my Sustainable by Design class and seen the Bella Center and the Bella Sky hotel, I hadn’t seen many of the more famous buildings that Ørestad has to offer, such as the 8-House (8-TALLEN), a building on which I have written at least three papers at UVa. The fact that I am leaving Copenhagen in less than three weeks and hadn’t been to Ørestad yet is basically a crime against my architecture major, so today was the perfect day to clear my conscience.
For the huge architecture nerd in me, going to the 8-House was like meeting a celebrity. I have followed BIG’s concepts, designs, and construction on the 8-House for years, and finally going was a dream come true. I still can’t believe that I didn’t go to visit earlier, but regardless —
Afterwards, I also saw the Mountain Dwellings, the VM Houses, the Ørestad Gymnasium (a Danish gymnasium is more or less like an American high school), and various other interesting buildings. On my way back into the city, I decided to stop at Tietgenkollegiet, which is just a little bit fancier than the kollegium where I live (much sarcasm intended).
It was great to finally make my way out to Ørestad today and spend a few hours there on my own. Although the whole area is really controversial because of how spread out and seemingly reliant on automobiles the neighborhood is, the buildings that I saw today have valuable lessons to teach the twenty-first century about the relationship between housing and nature and about mixed-use communities. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I got to check quite a few buildings off of ArchDaily’s Copenhagen City Guide in just one afternoon. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t have to hide inside all day from the wind or need a nap or five cups of coffee to get through a gloomy Scandinavian afternoon.