By Philippe Rahm architectes & Frans Drewniak
5 December 2014 – 9 January 2015

Exhibition opening Friday 5 December @ 16:00

The “Public Air” project for the City of Copenhagen aims to rethink the formal and technological heritage of the 20th century in favor of new physiological criteria, to mitigate the air and noise pollution brought on by automobiles and industrial processes.

To this end, cycling has recently become even more popular in Copenhagen, in spite of the city’s vehicle-centric design and materials. Consequently, cyclists in Copenhagen share the roads with cars, a result the 20th century urban planning. Further, the physical exertion necessary for riding a bike causes bicyclists to breathe deeper, inhaling the air pollution given off by automobiles.

Because it is both socially and politically impossible to ban the use of cars in the city, the City of Copenhagen has recently proposed further initiatives for the “Green Bike Network” to be developed in the near future. This proposal comprises a network of paths specific to bicycle and pedestrian traffic, and parallel to roadways used by automobiles. The plan, already in progress, navigates parks and vacant spaces in order to avoid crossing streets used by motor vehicles, and the air pollution therein.

Rather than fighting against air pollution and the automotive-centric design of the 20th century, this project proposes the creation of a new physiological vocabulary for the Green Bike Network. By analyzing and reconceptualizing each element of the 20th century built environment that contributes to undesirable physiological consequences, we can return to the causal relationship between physiological necessity and the impulse to build.

Based on a study of urban forms and materials, focusing on how they contribute to air pollution, noise pollution, and heat gain, each element of the built environment has been reconsidered in terms of its ability negate undesirable physiological consequences caused by the current built environment and climate of Copenhagen. Soil, façade material, street furniture, street layout and orientation, air, light, sound, and smell are elements that can be specifically implemented to create a more comfortable city air quality, noise threshold, and atmospheric temperature, in the cold climate of northern Europe.

Our goal is to provide a comfortable street network and atmospheric quality for cyclists, that protects them from cold winds, utilizes light to simulate the warmth of the Sun, and minimizes air and noise pollution. In a way, the new street, a public space, will have the comfort and quality of life – specifically, heat, clean air, silence — that are usually exclusive to private space in a house or the inside of a car.

To optimize the comfort of pedestrians and cyclists, we are offering research and ideation toward conceiving a new street layout, construction, building orientation, and material usage. To do so, we have analyzed each physical component of the proposed Green Bike Network according to the following criterias:

• NO COLD measures
• NO NOISE measures
• NO POLLUTION measures

Any given combination of the Cold, Noise and Pollution measures could be applied to new bike routes. But in the 3 following testbeds; Rentemestervej, Skelbækgade and Ved Amagerbanen we have focused on each of the measures to highlight the practical potentials of the research applied.

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Public Air Copenhagen – Map


Public Air Copenhagen – Section drawing

Opening night - Photo: Nynne Thykier

Opening night – Photo: Nynne Thykier

Storefront view - photo: Bauen

Storefront view – photo: Bauen

Article about Public Air Copenhagen in Geographies 06 - Grounding Metabolisme

Article about Public Air Copenhagen in Geographies 06 – Grounding Metabolisme