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Vartov Square Copenhagen - design by Hackett Hall McKnight
4 Dec 2009
Hackett Hall McKnight win International Design Competition for Public Square in Copenhagen
Hackett Hall McKnight Architects have been announced as the winners of a design competition for Vartov Square, Copenhagen.
The design contest was an open international competition run by the City of Copenhagen to find a visionary proposal for the conversion of Vartov Square into a dynamic urban space in the centre of Copenhagen.
The assessor’s report noted: ‘The entry features a simple general division of the square into three equal areas, while its details present a highly original story of the historical content of the square and its location in the city. The jury is convinced that this scheme for a new Vartov square will give Copenhagen a new important urban space that will benefit both present and future generations of residents and visitors. This entry manages to create a place in the city with a completely new and individual character, while at the same time incorporating it into the urban context both spatially and in terms of its content’.
The design competition was anonymous and attracted entries from all over the world; Hackett Hall McKnight emerged as the outright winners.
Hackett Hall McKnight will begin the development of the proposal with the City of Copenhagen in January 2010 and completion of the Square is due in 2012. The project is located in the centre of the city adjacent to Copenhagen City Hall.
This competition win follows the success of HHMCK in winning the European design contest for the design of a €43 million (£38million) complex for Meath County Council and Navan Town Council in May 2009 and being named Building Design’s ‘Young Architect of the Year’ (YAYA) in November 2008.
Situated alongside Copenhagen City Hall, the design establishes a strong and distinct identity for the space which is currently underused and lacking in definition. The design developed out of an understanding of the history of the site and seeks to re-establish the oldest, but least dominant building on the square, as the primary influence.
The site runs from the end of the ‘Stroget’ to the old Vartov Hospital and the project uses a number of elements to give definition and character to the space.
A grove of birch trees form a strong, but permeable edge to the square. A pavilion is located within the trees to provide activity and a focus for events in the square. This aspect of the project establishes the identity of the new square as separate to that of the adjacent City Hall square (Radhuspladsen).
The new square is orientated to the existing Vartov hospital building – the oldest building on the site gains prominence through the detail and geometry of a site specific paving pattern that refers to the elevation of the old Vartov hospital and the ancient graveyard located under the site.
As well as addressing the practical challenges for managing pedestrians, bicycles, traffic and tourist buses, the design had to work in two phases while the new metro station is under construction at one end of the site. The paving design has been developed as a response to the elevation of the Vartov Hospital and the presence under the square of an ancient graveyard.
The design proposes spaces of a very strong identity that will become part of the ‘mental map’ of the city. The aim is to create a space that is distinct from Radhuspladsen in terms of form and character and that adds to the varied public life of Copenhagen.
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