Last Friday I was lucky enough to be invited to the TagTomat summer celebration. It was a great afternoon for mingling with some of Scandinavian’s urban gardening enthusiasts and learning a trick or two about gardening in the city. TagTomat’s Mads and Christian gave demonstrations on how make DIY self watering portable garden beds at various scales. (video guides can be found at http://www.tagtomat.dk)
The concept of TagTomat began in 2011 in Copenhagen. Founder Mads began in his own backyard where the roof of his bike shed became a tomato garden. 3 years later and you can’t miss his logo on many of the cities pop up garden initiatives.
Successful urban spaces are plentiful in Copenhagen. But what is it that makes nearly every block in the city have such a vibrant and lively outdoor environment? What I have noticed is that spaces are treated as pieces of a city puzzle. Not every place has every possible function occurring. They are treated as a segment of a bigger picture, respecting that is already working well just around the corner.
This fun square is in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro is such a piece. It simply hosts a slide for children to play on. Perfectly positioned and scaled it fits into it’s location. The square draws children from across the neighbourhood to come slide and mingle. It doesn’t offer everything you might need in a public space. But what it does offer, it does a wonderful job at.
This puzzle piece approach also results in species that are not overtly dedicated to one user group. While children laugh, slide and have fun you can also find adults reading a newspaper or chatting with friend. Un phased that they are occupying a playground.
One week of autumn weather and I’m really noticing the change in the program of the city. Its only when I no longer had the hunger for a mid day dip or a late night slash, that I realize the extent that the Copenhagen harbor has contributed to my love for, and my routine in this city. The moment when my head pops back above the water after jumping in for a swim has become know by my friends as ‘my happy place’. A moment of joy and gratitude for being able to live in this city.
My favorite place for a swim is straight off the wave shaped promenade know as Kalvebod Byygge. This design by JDS Architects is on the northern bank of the canal, less then 1km from the city center. The timber structure, with its elaborate curving form, creates a wonderful swimming area as it weaves along the solid canal edge. This shape forms areas perfect for swimming. Giving both a sense of protection and thrill as you share the same waterbody as passing boats and kayaks.
I have been told that the area was never intended as a swimming location. Word has it, that the bright orange ladders leading out of the water were only to allow those who accidentally fall in, and easy climb to safety. But maybe this is just the genius in the design. Using a safety strategy to create great public activity. Whatever the design intention, I’m sure it offers a ‘happy place’ to many Copenhageners.