By Margarida N. Waco
Parking House Lüders in Nordhavn, Copenhagen could be one of the answers to the inevitable question on how to rethink the future of the dense city in relation to urban spaces. This multifunctional building designed by the Copenhagen based architectural studio, jaja architects, challenges the conventional monofunctional parking house. With its characteristic recreational urban space on the roof it strives to be an exciting asset to the new neighborhood.
In a few years from now, Nordhavn will welcome thousands of new inhabitants as the latest urban development project in Copenhagen enters its final stages. An ambitious project such as this calls for equally ambitious parking facilities. In 2013, when the contractors By og Havn arranged an architectural competition for a new parking house located in the quarter of Århusgade in Nordhavn, they required the architects to include an urban space in relation to the building. By answering the question on how to transform a typical monofunctional parking house with a solution that not only allows the inhabitants to park their vehicles but simultaneously facilitates activity for a large group of people in a playful way, the Copenhagen based architectural studio jaja architects won the competition.
Construction wise, Parking House Lüders follows the recipe of a traditional parking house with an inner structure composed of concrete divided into seven floors which enables space for 485 cars and other vehicles. Covering the inner structure, a box of weathering steel defines the borders of the heavy concrete building. Additionally, the facade contrasts the interior to a great extent and at the same time inscribes itself into the cityscape and history of the quarter of Århusgade as a former domicile for dock workers and factories characterized by storehouses and a majority of buildings of red coloured bricks.
The building has furthermore highly been adapted to the aesthetics and the physical appearance of the area. This is done by implementing collages of significant historical characters and events at Århusgade and Nordhavn into the facade. The collages are expressed in the way of friezes designed by Rama Studio and includes motifs of such personalities as captain and master builder, F.V.W. Lüder, from whom the name of the parking house originates. Additionally, two diagonal staircases leading up to the roof are fixed to the facade, which include 40 red coloured concrete plant shelves that over time will provide the structure with a distinctive green touch.
Climbing the diagonal staircase and passing both the plant shelves, as well as the motifs on the friezes whilst following a 440 meter red handrail along the staircase, a 2400 m2 urban space named Konditaget Lüders occurs in 24 meters height with a striking view over the area in-spe and Øresund. An extraordinary red public arena with training and playing facilities for both children and adults enabling a childish joy.
As one of the main design features and means of creating a strong visual and physical connection between the facade and the roof, a red handrail that starts at ground level runs side by side next to the staircase and transforms itself and becomes the backbone of a variety of exercise and playing facilities on the roof. Seeking to combine several activities emphasized by buzzwords such as play, train and stay and thereby invite a wide range of people of all ages, Konditaget Lüders is not only the first urban space in Nordhavn but also aspires to be the center of the daily life in the area.
As a part of a larger discourse defined by projects setting the bar for the future for urban projects worldwide, Parking House Lüders is one of the most recent examples. Similar projects have found their way into architectural offices around the world such as the Shinjuku Gardens in Tokyo, Japan, designed by the Chinese office Cheungvogl, that combines a two storey parking house with a 1800 m2 public park space on the roof. By seeking to couple the practical parking facilities with recreational urban spaces and thereby respond to the dense urban fabric in larger cities, these projects and architectural solutions illustrate the importance of future hybrid typologies in making room for public spaces in cities.