Article and images by Laura Craft, Jennifer McMaster, Robert Martin, Olivia Savio-Matev and Matthew Wells.
"The site for our project is Refshaleøen, a man-made island located on the north-eastern edge of Copenhagen’s harbour. Isolated from the city, it stands as a relic of the past, an old industrial ship-building site that closed in 1996. The site has great historical and cultural significance for the people of Copenhagen, with generations of men having been employed in the shipyards.
Over the past few years, the site has been slowly reactivated, with an emphasis on cultural rejuvenation and event-based programs. At the moment, it is being used for creative studios, ship storage, set building, indoor rock climbing, a restaurant, a flea market and metal works. In 2014, Refshaleøen will host the Eurovision Song Contest. It is hoped that this renewed interest will be a catalyst for change.
Our design brief tackles the question ‘Can Eurovision build a city?’ and, with Eurovision as a starting point, the project requires us to help generate a new vision for this part of the city.
During our initial site visit, Refshaleøen was covered in a blanket of fog. This provided us with a particular reading of the site. The site covers 500,000 sq m and feels vast and uninhabitable in its current state. It is void of human scale, with its long corridors and monolithic interiors, especially in the old B&W Halls complex, where ships were once built. In some respects, the site also serves as an urban junkyard, with industrial relics scattered across the island, providing a sharp contrast with Copenhagen, which is dense and orderly.
The greatest successes of the site are revealed inside those larger buildings that have been filled with tenants. New, smaller studio spaces have been built inside some of the vast halls, and these spaces are active, warm and intimate. Equally, the giant interior spaces allow certain large objects, such as rocket ships and stage sets, to be built on site, something that wouldn’t be possible anywhere else in the city.
After our site visit, we spent two weeks developing five distinctive conceptual approaches to the design brief. Each of us offered a very different perspective and we then worked together on developing each person’s idea. Collaboration enabled each project to be stronger and more insightful. Through this process we learned a great deal about our individual skill sets and abilities. This enabled us to generate a consistent Catalogue of Ideas.
Over the next four weeks, we will work towards a project that will focus on a single vision for the site, layered with many of our initial design solutions."