Day 2-10: Copenhagen + Berlin

Sorry it’s a bit late…it’s been so busy with the class’ itenerary …but here’s the first bit…

We’ve been here twice now and will have another visit before reaching back to SF…if you’re wondering why…we misplanned some parts of this trip.

two days of sight seeing marathon…Libeskind’s Jewish museum, bradenburger gate, the park Tiergarten around the museum mall, the Reichstag..though only the outside for time I want to see the interior of the dome.., Berlin philharmonic..very nice interior, city zoo, bits of the Berlin wall, Renzo Piano’s shopping mall, bell tower in the park, and the Holocaust memorial.
The Holocaust memorial is truly an amazing project..beautiful concept and extraordinary execution-the uneasiness of the ground, the repeating stone slabs…as if they were an endless field of tombs, the bleak and gray of the field sends tension through the visitors, the towered and the towering of the pieces create a nice transition between the atmosphere of the memorial and the rest of the city. Eisenman has abstracted that feeling of lost without explicitly putting any blame on any particular nation or group. Poetic in nature…
Eating was surprisingly cheap -from croissants to pizza. Language wasn’t too great of a barrier, most spoke English. Berlin, to me, is very urban …not too different from that of San Francisco.
After 2 days in Berlin, we flew back to Copenhagen to officially start the class… Great city and urban life. We went on a nice canal tour around the waterways…the architecture there was fantastic and everything was booming-we saw a lot of new constructions underway …and new lands formed to provide more space for new development. Biking tour around the city …very ordered bike lanes I must say. And the people and organization of Copenhagen really express the common sustainable mode of living…pretty impressive.
One of the developing areas is in Orestad – a strip of land within the city that has been rezoned as the new living complex district, consisting of the Copenhagen and IT university, the broadcasting center and concert hall, BIG (Bjarke Ingels) housing projects, and specified open green areas. As a part of the class, I was responsible for analyzing the concert hall, the blue box designed by Jean Nouvel. The layout of the interior of the concert hall takes the example of the Berlin Philharmonics designed by Hans Scharoun, where the seats are arranged in a less longitudinal axis but rather of multiple axes where the stage is located slightly off center within the space so that from every seat, the sound is optimized. The concert hall, in reference to the blue box, becomes the gem or meteor in a translucent box, giving a sense of mystery to the ongoing in the space. My strongest reaction to the design, aside from the seating layout is the presence of the weight of the concert hall. From the moment I entered the lobby, then moving up into the main foyer and finally to our seats, the “meteor” exerts a sense of a gravitational pull on the visitors toward itself. The crumbling look of the concrete walls, the dark atmosphere as one enters the blue box, and the juxtaposition of the “meteor” in reference to the void emphasizes the concert hall’s presence and boldness. In contrast to the interior, as night, light and image projections upon the blue fabric facade lightens the physical heaviness of the project and almost floats it upon the surface of the water channel. We were fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to attend one of the concerts during our time in Copenhagen!

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