31 October 2014

Well done, October

Tonight we are tucking October in. Clocks are turned back, trees are changing colors, slowly balding and the sun is playing hard to get. The pedal boats go into hibernation and the lakes are returned to the few remaining swans. It is nature's turn to roam, and it is a generous creature.


Trees and pockets of nature are so important in the city, even when we are not aware of the effect, it is still there. But it helps to know, so you can fully appreciate them.



Below poplar trees seen through a grimy skylight. Like too many other Copenhagen trees, these are endangered by construction plans and a new tile square.


If there is any sanity, these trees and the rest of them on this lot, are spared and included in the new design. Can you believe the city planners here? I suspect they all live outside the city, with plenty of nature, and no concept of just how scarce and precious trees and even the smallest pockets of nature, are to us.

The cafe by the lakes are making changes, first we got the big pedal boat swans, and now he built a roof for the deck. I inspected it from all angles, before approaching for the final shot.


Major guilt trip when the swans use precious energy to approach you, and all you have is an inedible camera. I apologized, of course.


Happy to see it's done in taste.


The lakes are on the fast track to becoming the riviera of Copenhagen. City planning and permissions should be handled with the utmost care, if this is not to get out of hand. No horrible mistakes seem to be in the making since we stopped the bunkers and the old trees on the bridge corners, from being demolished. But we urgently need someone to care for the wildlife on the lakes, especially the swans, still hanging in even if their numbers are dwindling.


Happy hibernation, boys. 

Copenhagen tonight <3

Well done, October.

28 October 2014

Ice Watch

To visualize global warming, artist Olafur Eliasson and geologist Minik Rosing have transported 100 tonnes of ice, in twelve blocks, all the way from Greenland. They have been positioned like a large Ice Watch, in the middle of Town Hall Square, representing the exact amount of ice melting every second, at the moment. Wake up and smell the urgency, someone.

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson

The blocks were put in place on Sunday, but the earliest I could make it was the next day, and already so much was gone. In part melted away, but equally trashed by kids, kicking off pieces and crushing the bits. I get the climbing and touching and even licking part, but breaking off the ice in large chunks? In a way that kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Humans.

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson is quoted saying he hopes this will make climate change real to the spectator, and I want him to be right, but mostly it just seemed like the scene of a party. Apart from the angry, yelling lady of course (one guess who, ha).

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson

City Hall and Dannebrog in melted ice.

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson
 Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson


The Ice Watch brings back the image of Trude the polar bear, carved from a large block of arctic ice by Norwegian artist Olaf Storø. The magnificent animal was on display in Copenhagen during the COP15 climate assembly fiasco, equally left to melt away. To me that message was more powerful than the Ice Watch, but then I am a sucker for things with a face.

Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson

Bright lights from the commercial wall, breaking through the abducted ice, so far away from home. It makes me want to protect it, somehow. Maybe that is how we are supposed to feel? Does it work the same for you?

The three stages of Trude the arctic polar bear, part one, part two, part three.

17 October 2014

European Green Cap... ah, who are we kidding?

Recently I was floored by the sight of another eight road trees cut down by the lakes. We can't afford to lose anymore, here. Why does this keep happening? A journalist cleared it up for us. The trees had been suffering for a while, from insufficient space to grow, salt damages and from being hit by cars. So why not protect them from these things, and provide proper living conditions, we asked? Well, the limited budget is spent on watering and protecting young trees the first years, there are simply no funds to protect the rest.

Copenhagen, winner 2014 European Green Capital

Never mind the fact that trees clean the air, absorb particles and provide a shield from traffic. In a language they should be able to understand, trees represent a huge investment that is flushed out the toilet by lack of maintenance. Not because the good park people don't know how to take care of trees, but because they are limited by political priorities. 

The tree group Red Byens Træer (save the city's trees) is growing steadily, awareness is raised and we are becoming more vocal in our concern. It is a relief to know that you are not alone.

Dead tree

Leafless tree on Nørrebro. Street artists are picking up on this too. Good!

Below a similar scenario as the recent lake tree felling, in a different part of town, Nørre Voldgade.

"F" marks the kiss of death, note the non-existing plant hole.

In the back Ørstedsparken, in safe distance (apart from chunk taken out for the new concrete square, ugh!)

Cars cause damage to people in so many ways, but in Copenhagen it is the trees that are cut down, to prevent damage to cars.  

As I was kneeling to take this picture, a woman got out of her car. "Look at this," I said with sadness and pointed to the stub below her heavy metal. "Yes," she replied, "I always wondered what these trees are doing here, it is not like you use them for anything." I decided to let her live. It only took everything I had.


12 October 2014

02 October 2014

Return of the Test Tubes

I experienced something yesterday that can best be described as joy of recognition, attending the opening of Reprogramming The City, an exhibition in the Danish Centre of Architecture. It is curated by urban strategist Scott Burnham, with whom I apparently share my view of the urban space, and its endless possibilities. A quote from the catalogue boils it all down:

"We have the ability to solve some of the most pressing urban problems by using what we already have in new ways" 

Longtime readers will know where I am going with this...


From a decade of running my own accessories business with limited resources, I had this down to a fine art: Work to the greatest extent with what you already have, and adapt it to fit the market. Moving from fashion accessories to urban solutions was not a big leap. My cup stacking Test Tubes were just that: accessories for the urban space.

The problem:

Cup litter

The solution:

Pictogram Test Tube

The Test Tube, offering people an opportunity to prove to the city that cup litter is not a case of laziness or ill will, but a last resort. (How I miss the poster free trash can, ugh!)

It all began with a humble set of painted cardboard postal tubes, mounted on a couple of trash cans on Queen Louises Bridge. Ignored by the city, but embraced by the internet to the extent that the city was forced to give them a try (thank you, internet). Enter the aluminum prototype.

After a trial period, the cleaning department shut down the tubes, by reason of denial: Copen-we-don’t-have-a-cup-litter-problem-hagen. But as we all know denying a problem is there, doesn't make it go away. Nor will the solution: two years after the first cardboard edition hit the bridge, the aluminum prototype have made it to the Danish Centre of Architecture, where it will be on display for the next three months. Ha!

Once the dust settles, I will return to the exhibition, and give you a full report. There are so many great ideas for the urban space out there, and so many untapped resources. I can't get over what a privilege it is to be included in this show, and had to ask the curator, how he came across the Test Tubes, all the way from Boston? Oh, said my newfound urban hero: I follow your blog.

Reprogramming The City on DAC  Oct 1 2014 - Jan 4 2015