Studio Pen & Inc Copenhagen Field Trip

Written by Jiayi Gu

BA3 Pen & Inc studio explored numerous fabulous buildings and public space during their study tours in Copenhagen Denmark and Malmo Sweden. The cities were characterized by their clean, comfortable, and humanistic urban design, with striking modern architecture and active public spaces throughout. This trip provided the students with a firsthand experience of excellent architecture and urban design in the Nordic region.
Under the guidance of four tutors, fourteen students visited a diverse range of buildings, including the uniquely designed expressionist Grundtvigs Church, Jorn Utzon’s stunning Bagsværd Church with its beautiful curved roof, the practical and aesthetically pleasing Nordhaven – BIG HQ, the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, the impressive Copenhagen Opera House, and the massive Copenhill. The group also explored a variety of public spaces and communities, such as the fascinating and innovative Superkilen Park and the Skogskyrkogården, which has been listed as a World Heritage site. Additionally, they visited several exhibitions at the Steen Eiler Rasmussen statue, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Malmo Konsthall, and Copenhagen Contemporary. The exhibitions and museums themselves were also quite impressive.
Overall, the trip was not only a fulfilling component of the studio course, but also a means of rapidly expanding horizons. In the second semester, students will design public-realm and residential buildings in Huyton Village Center, and the experiences gained during this trip will undoubtedly serve as valuable reference points for their upcoming project.

The studio team would like to thank Bjarke Ingels Group for the fantastic tour of their Nordhaven HQ site which is six months off completion.

Grundtvigs Church
Bagsværd Church
Grundtvigs Church Interior
Bagsværd Church Interior

For the 2022/23 Pen & Inc field trip we went to Copenhagen for four days – including a day trip across to Malmo. On the first day, after arriving, we went up to the top of the University Mærsk Tower, which had amazing views over Copenhagen. After this, we spent the afternoon at the site for Bjarke Ingles new offices, which was definitely the highlight of the day for everyone. We got to see the project six months off competition, allowing us to appreciate all of the smaller details that go into the fruition of a project. The site manager showed us around, talking through any of the bigger issues they had and their ambitions for how they’re going to use it. 

After this we made our way towards the Opera house and the Royal Danish Acadmey on the water taxi which allowed our feet a rest and provided a slower, but more scenic route. The exhibtion at the Royal Danish Architecture school explored different ways design can improve well-being, partly by changing our behaviour. It spotlighted methods such as, furniture design, textiles and fashion as tools for this. In the evening, we headed to the meat-packing district which was filled with up-and-coming resturants and bars.

On the second day we met at Superkilen, a key example of public realm, which used colour on the ground and play objects that represented the different cultures within Denmark. We then ventured further out of the city and visited two beautiful but very different churches. The first, Grundtvig’s expressionist Church, made solely out of brick, but with classical gothic features. The second, a Lutherian church, Bagsværd designed by Jorn Utzen in 1976 was unassuming in form from the outside, but on the inside defined by a heavy concrete, curved ceiling over the alter and pews. The last place we visited was the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, which aside from the awe inspiring art collection and diverse range of exhibitions, the modern extension which sprawled across the plot was a site in-itself. 

For the penultimate day we travelled by train across the Oresund Bridge to Malmö and started off our visit with the Malmo Museum of Modern art and the Konsthall art gallery. The exhibition space of the Malmo Konsthall was particularly inspiring, lit with lots of natural lighting and the pitched roofs of colourful terraces stretching along the skylight. The newly opened exhibition Flight was free to enter and hugely busy. We then made our way to the East cemetry, ‘Östra kyrkogården’, which was designed by the architect Sigurd Lewerentz. This large plot of land, organised into a carefully thought out arrangement also featured a striking bell tower, flower shop and a pair of chapels. The bell tower was built up on a mound of land, emphasising it’s significance. 

On the last day we met up at Copenhill, the well-known Bjarke Ingles energy plant with a dry ski slope atop. At the very top we were able to admire a different view of Copenhagen and see some people braving the slope. Just along from here was the Copenhagen Contemporary, located in a quiet industrial estate. This was a really inspiring visit and the exhibition ‘Children’s Games’ by Francis Alÿs was particularly relevant to our current project. It explored how different children across the globe, made their own of spaces for play.  For the rest of the afternoon, being our last, we were free to explore the centre of Copenhagen before flying back to Liverpool that evening. 

In a short amount of time, we managed to experience so many different areas of Copenhagen – even some of Sweden – and explored many different buildings, exhibtions and inspring spaces. This also meant we averaged more than 20,000 steps a day! 

By Eleanor Ventress-Burke @ellasportfolio