When looking at the term ‘temporary’ in relation to architecture, a whole world of impermanent architectural projects unfolds. Here, we want to give you a glimpse of a few Danish projects and events that focus on ‘temporary’ as a quality in architecture.
Temporary architecture is architectural structures that are build to last for a shorter period of time. It has sometimes been described as having the goal of activating an area or creating exciting, aesthetically pleasing frameworks for meetings between people. Permanent architecture must in many cases do the same, but permanent architecture has to live up to a series of demands regarding functionality and durability, whereas temporary architecture can focus on creating space for expression, participation and change.
Aarhus Festival is an annual city festival in Denmark’s second largest city, which is known for its vibrant and colourful atmosphere. Dozens of exhibitions, concerts, food venues and other cultural happenings fill the city for a whole week in late August. The festival also includes temporary ‘architectural adventures’.
The Aarhus Festival events that deal with architecture and city development are called the ‘1:1’ events. Prioritising pedestrians over cars in the city centre, the festival brings light to dark corners of the urban landscape and creates new open spaces. The goal is that the architectural projects will resonate among citizens even after Aarhus Festival is over.
One of the architectural installations at last year’s festival was Mikado – a light installation at Skt. Clemens Stræde in downtown Aarhus. Mikado was designed by Danish architectural design studio Spant Studio in collaboration with the Digital Atelier and the lighting manufacturer Martin.
Mikado was created to let the audience experience narrow passageways in a new way. A series of frame structures were randomly placed, similar to in the game ‘Mikado’. Every frame was covered with LED lights that illuminated the lane according to how many people passed through it and how they moved. During the day Mikado was a sculptural frame, and in the evening it transformed into an intense light experience.
“Mikado was in stark contrast to the way we were used to view the city, as a course of passive spaces. A true revitalisation of the overlooked street emerged during the Aarhus Festival, where the installation’s diversity contributed to a shifting and interesting street course, which moreover created a great feeling of safeness among those wandering in the space at night,” says Kasper Baarup Holmboe, Partner and Architect at Spant Studio.
Aarhus Festival and its architectural installations last for a week every year. The next project, however, was a one-off user-involvement process to extract architectural ideas from Denmark’s citizens about their surrounding neighbourhoods.
An altered balance
‘Build it up’ was a user-centred concept that engaged the Danes to come up with new ideas on how to take advantage of their neighbourhood in an architectural way. It was an opportunity for everyone to contribute to how Danish cities and landscapes should evolve. The concept made use of the internet to invite citizens to plot their ideas on a map, so that others could see the many opportunities and ideas.
In this way, ‘Build it up’ invited the citizens of Denmark to come up with the new ideas for architecture in their cities. Usually it is the authorities that propose architectural plans for our urban spaces, which the citizens then can consider, debate and accept, but in this case, it was the other way around. The citizens proposed architectural solutions which the authorities then had to grasp.
The Danish architectural firm EFFEKT was selected as one of four teams to take part in the finale of the project and chosen as the firm to help the village of Lemvig qualify and bring their idea of a skate park on the harbour to life. EFFEKT and the local community had only 16 weeks to design and build the project.
In the process, EFFEKT transformed the original idea of a mono-functional skate park area into a multifunctional recreational harbour park with a wide variety of functions for all user and age groups in the village. In a very short time the project has become a new focal point not only for the locals from Lemvig but also for skaters from all over the region.
’Build it up’ was developed by the Danish Broadcasting Corporation and Danish Architecture Centre (DAC), supported by Realdania, The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities, and The Danish Arts Foundation, and with counselling from the Danish engineering company COWI.
The final projects are permanent solutions, but the process of reducing all the proposals to the four winning projects had an element of the temporary, because people discussed each other’s proposals online.
According to DAC, ‘Build it up’ had its starting point in a trend of thinking in temporary physical surroundings. DAC and the Danish Broadcasting Corporation saw potential in creating an architectural event where the goal was to create national communication and debate that would put the potential and conditions of urban planning on the agenda. Thereby, the goal was also to create visibility for the value of thinking and taking actions through the temporary – both for the people and professionals.
A dome to create new ways of living
The last project we will focus on is a moveable structure, where new ideas and concepts in architecture and culture can be discussed.
Installed in both Aarhus and Copenhagen, Dome of Visions is a dome-shaped greenhouse with the height of a three-storey house. The dome is transparent, and inside is a two-storey house, shielded from wind and rain, surrounded by fragrant trees and plants.
The dome puts the focus on sustainable construction, urban life, architecture and new ways of working together, by hosting several different cultural events, including concerts, readings, debates about architecture, business seminars, exhibitions and even ‘camps’ in which students and the cities’ creative lights meet for days to immerse themselves in the new challenges of architecture.
In 2013, the city architect of Aarhus, Stephen Willacy, granted the Dome of Visions the City Architect’s Special Prize for Temporary Architecture 2013.
“The Dome of Visions has been useful and benefitted Aarhus. I’ve participated in numerous events on architecture, urban development and other subjects in the dome, and you think differently when you are inside a building like the dome. I’ve tried to have Aarhus Municipality buy the Dome of Visions, because the building and its mind-set is very forward looking. The people behind it have set new standards,” says Stephen Willacy.
Behind the Dome of Visions is a group of people, including Danish architects Kristoffer Tejlgaard and Benny Jepsen, the Danish branding agency NXT and the Danish collaborative called Sensuous that operates in the intersection of performance art, research, activism and future studies. The project is a collaboration with DAC, The Royal Library and Copenhagen Municipality, and has been developed together with the construction company NCC Denmark.