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On a cold winter morning, Southern Copenhagen is almost deserted. Near the Metro station, two students rush to their bikes. A tiny, toy-like train is zipping past a bright blue cube-like building – it is the Copenhagen metro, running overground in Orestad. Not far from it we have a look into the courtyard of the circular Tietgen student hall, with colourful letterboxes and washing machines prominently visible on the ground floor. The circular building is influenced by some traditional Chinese architecture: The Hakka people built round walled villages, which can be defended easily, and where several extended families live together.
Southwards, we continue along a cycling road lined by different, but all extremely Scandinavian family homes, until we reach the Bella Sky Hotel. Standing beside the nondescript halls of the trade fair, the hotel's two towers seem to be swinging forward and backward: both towers are markedly leaning in different directions, right angles having all but disappeared. From the equally odd connecting corridor on the top floor of the towers, we get an overview of the Orestad development area: The Mountain House, the Field's Mall, and in the distance the big 8-shaped building, all strung up along the metro line. Placing the mall and an also quite interesting high school (without traditional classrooms, only open learning spaces) in the centre of the new town quarter was clearly a clever move, as it creates some movement between the modern office buildings. However, especially at its southern end, the area appears a bit lifeless, not least because much of the new architecture is self-contained and inward-looking: The offices all have fancy-looking cafeterias, the apartment buildings are arranged around courtyards as social spaces.
For visitors, it is both fascinating to gape at these glass-and-steel explosions with oddly-shaped windows and balconies, and lonely because you don't meet the inhabitants much. But then, after all, we visited in winter, when it was bitterly cold. No wonder that people try to stay inside if they can.
Info: The Danish Architecture Centre offers free Podwalks on Orestad architecture: http://www.dac.dk/en/dac-life/podwalks/podwalks/oerestad/