While I was studying abroad last spring in Copenhagen, every morning on my way to school I passed through the busiest train hub, Nørreport Station. Whether on bike, bus, or train, it was always a hectic whirlwind of bodies squeezed onto a narrow island strip between two major thoroughfares, and a prime spot for getting run over by a rogue cyclist. I was delighted to see the winning redesign of Nørreport unveiled last week, a stunning entry by COBE Architects.
COBE addresses Nørreport's three main problems: passenger transfer between bicycles, buses, and trains, insufficient bike parking, and poor air quality on the underground regional train platform. The station redesign also significantly widens the plaza to extend towards Copenhagen's biggest walking streets, Frederiksborggade and Strøget, further unifying the famous pedestrian zones in the heart of the city.
For shelter, a set of rounded, near-floating roofs sit atop individual glass pavilions (reminiscent of Arne Jacobsen's minimalist petrol station up north in Skovshoved, or perhaps Georg Jensen's leaf bowl). They are surrounded by strategically-placed and LED-lit bicycle parking, set 40 cm below the city floor for improved hierarchy between bikes and pedestrians. Eleven ventilation towers will also draw air from above, and provide lighting and digital information.
Some of my warmest memories of Copenhagen were spent escaping the winter winds and experiencing Danish public transportation. Voted world's best metro at Metrorail in April 2008, the fully-driverless system allows for an exciting roller-coaster-esque view of zipping through the tunnel if you sit in the first row (with the other Danish six-year-olds). The S-tog (tog = train) provides a wonderful invitation for the rider's derriere, with blue plush, ergonomic seats and differentiated sections for cyclists and baby carriages. I might also add that the choice of font and overall signage of the DSB, the Danish rail operator, has become iconic in its own design right -- check out that fabulous 'g,' now dubbed 'the Danish g' by Erik Spiekermann. Even the 10-ride clip cards, 'klippekort', were pleasing enough to warrant careful collection for future scrapbooking.
We're looking forward to 2011, when construction on the new design is scheduled to start. It's about time that the Nørreport experience be on par with that of the rest of Copenhagen's public transit.
More photos at Inhabitat