Defining BLOX is not easy. First reading about the project I could not at first grasp its intention, figure out who the project is for, or what it aims to achieve. I stumbled upon this building site walking through Copenhagen and whilst I had not heard much about it before I knew instinctively it was one of OMAs latest projects. Personally, I would put the Super Dutch team’s portfolio on a pedestal among contemporary built architecture, there are a few exceptions but generally, I can get behind the concepts that are carried through with tremendous confidence and zeal.
Rem is a wordsmith as can be seen from his publications, however, I’m not sure that he will have written the project description featured on the BLOX website. Flowery is one word, and indistinct is another, both would be fair to level at the aspirational jargon featured on the site. You can barely see the meat and potatoes of what this building is.
“BLOX creates a new and extraordinary venue for life in the city.” Good.
Perhaps the author should be forgiven. Maybe BLOX is difficult to define as it does not fit into a single category but instead looks to blur programmes and overlap ownership and function. It is not one thing, it is many, not only commercial space but also shared, not only a destination but also a crossing.
This ambiguity is drawn from the site – it has the difficult challenge of being built above a busy dual carriageway that divides the city centre from the harbour/riverside. The building becomes literally and metaphorically a bridge.
“Bridges that create new connections.” Too much opportunity for sarcasm… must restrain…
Reading on I discover that the building will host the Danish Architecture Centre as well as a hub for social and artistic projects. Architectural and design collectives will operate in workspaces adjacent to playgrounds and cafes – a place for the community to work and play. The new institutions will also organise exhibitions and develop research projects. With the public actively brought into the scheme it will be an excellent opportunity for creative industries to have direct contact with local residents – it will be a good chance for ideas to be exchanged, and probably for postcards to be sold.
This project aims to complete a Culture Route planned through Copenhagen linking the Danish Architecture Centre, with the Parliament building, as well as institutions including the National Museum of Denmark, the Royal Danish Arsenal Museum, The Royal Library and Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek.
Architecturally speaking, the form follows function with a bit of added exuberance, and the conceptual blur of programmes finds its way into the space making. It is finished in typical OMA materials, including gradients of translucent planes. A video posted by the architect is featured at the bottom of this post gives you a virtual tour of how the site is envisioned. Scheduled to be completed and operational in 2017, perhaps it will be another good excuse for me to return to this city.