Oslo Journal: Modern Waterfront Library Opens Next to Opera House

New Deichman Bjorvika Central Library (left) on Oslo Waterfront close to the Oslo Opera House (right) (photo Einar Aslaksen)

By Ron Bernthal

The library of the future has finally opened. Located between Oslo Central Station and the Oslo Opera House, the new Deichman Bjørvika Central Library is now part of the city’s 235 year history of the public library in Norway’s capital city. Designed by the Oslo-based studio Atelier Oslo and Lundhagem Architects, the group won the international competition to design the library in 2009.

Stretching over six floors and about 145,000 square-feet, the building will house over 450,000 books, and offer lots of meeting spaces, learning rooms, and lots of activities for adults and children. Visitors can watch movies, learn to make podcasts, take piano lessons, use 3D printers, enjoy the view of the Oslo Fjord, or just admire the architecture and design of Lundhagem and Atelier Oslo.

In early 2020 about 1,000 Norwegian schoolchildren moved 6,000 books from the 1930′s-era Deichman library to the new Deichman Bjørvika. With colourful rucksacks full of children’s books on their backs, the children filled the streets of central Oslo and brought the library’s new building to life with cheering and dancing. The original plan was to open Deichman Bjørvika to the public on March 28th 2020. However, Covid-19 and the national lockdown in March put a stop to that. After a successful country lockdown eased the Covid-19 crisis, however, Library Director Skansen was able to open the building’s doors to the public on June 18, 2020, just three months from the original date.

[caption id="attachment_5871" align="alignnone" width="6720"] Deichman Bjørvika , interior space (photo Erik Thallaug)

“We are looking forward to letting this house fill with people. Opening a building such as this in Oslo is a great event. Finally the people of Oslo and visitors can come to us and start using the library. We are looking forward to show people this building which we are so proud of. I think everyone in Oslo will be proud themselves because this is after all their building”, said Skansen.

Deichman Bjørvika’s ambition is to host two million visitors each year — in a Covid-free situation. Among the safety measures regarding infection control is a temporary limit on the number of visitors who can be present in the library at the same time: 1,000, compared to the usual limit of 3,000. This restriction has been determined after consultations with local infection control authorities.

Deichman Bjørvika interior (photo Jo Straube)

“The library is a very special place,” said Governing Mayor Raymond Johansen.
“It’s an open door to the world of literature. An open door to a meeting place across history, class, gender, and age. The new Deichman library has been built on one of the best plots in Oslo and that shows that we as a society and as a city prioritize culture. That we prioritize people and that we prioritize meeting places that are open for everyone.”

The artwork BRAINSTORM by Lars Ø Ramberg inside the library. The artwork took over three years to produce. The result is a gigantic piece of conceptual art, comprising over 1,200 feet of handmade glass (photo CF-Wesenberg)

The area around the inlet of Bjørvika east of the city centre has been completely transformed. Around the year 2000 this area was known for a major highway junction and a container port. Today, the highway is gone and the containers have been replaced with design-savvy residential and mixed-used buildings. Bjørvika Barcode is now a vibrant district with fascinating architecture and great outdoor spaces.

One of the modern buildings in the Barcode district (photo Ron Bernthal)

Bjørvika Barcode consists of twelve narrow high-rise buildings of different heights and widths. The buildings are built with some space in between them, thus jointly resembling a barcode. The Barcode district buildings house leading national and international businesses, and 10,000 people work here on a daily basis. The buildings also contain 400 residential units and a daycare center. On street level, there are many good restaurants, shops, art galleries and other services.

Art galleries and street art, like these metal bicycles, can be found on the streets of the Barcode district, close to the new library. (photo Ron Bernthal)

The Barcode district architecture concept was developed by the Norwegian firms DARK and a-lab, in collaboration with the Dutch agency MVRDV. The “barcode” concept is designed as a geometric system that stands out architecturally. The concept incorporates values such as openness to the fjord, admittance of light and airiness.

Formerly an old container dock, Sørenga has also been transformed into a brand new neigborhood by the Oslo Fjord. The area consists of residential complexes with unique architectural details. A green park with several channels stretches through the whole area. At the southernmost tip you’ll find the Sørenga Seawater Pool, a popular recreational spot for Oslovians in summertime. Several waterfront restaurants offer great food in maritime surroundings.

Visit Oslo


Saxony Journal: Exhibits Highlight Early European Industrialization

Theater Square in historic Chemnitz, Saxony (Photo Chemnitz Agency for the Promotion of Trade and Industry and Economic Development)

By Ron Bernthal

The southwestern region of Saxony was one of the first and most important centers of early European industrialization. For visitors to Germany’s Saxony region these days, its self-image still rests on the terrain’s natural beauty, the state’s cultural wealth, and a still broad and vital industrial base. It is the success of these attributes and Saxony’s entrepreneurialism that has allowed this German state to build its extraordinary musical, artistic and architectural culture today.

Machinery from the 19th century can be viewed at the Sachsisches Industry Museum in Chemnitz (Photo Wolfgang Schmidt)

From July 11, 2020, the Audi Building in Zwickau will host the central exhibition of the Fourth Saxon State Exhibition called “Boom” – with five other cities in the region hosting additional, but just as important, parts of the “Boom” exhibitions. In addition to the AutoBoom at the August Horch Museum in Zwickau, there is the MachineBoom exhibit at the Chemnitz Industrial Museum; the RailwayBoom in the Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf Railway (outdoors); the CoalBoom in the Mining Museum in the Ore Mountains; the TextileBoom in the Cloth Factory at the Gebr. Pfau in Grimmitschau; and the SilverBoom in the Research and Teaching Mine in Freiberg.

The August Horch Museum, night view. The August Horch Museum Zwickau is an automobile museum which opened in 2004. (Photo August Horch Museum)

The AutoBoom is located in the August Horch Museum in Zwickau, which is next to the central exhibition in the Audi Building. The Horch Museum is where the first models from major global automotive brands, including Horch and Audi, rolled off the assembly line and later was the birthplace of the legendary Trabant automobile during the Cold War-era German Democratic Republic August Horch was the founder of the company that would become Audi.

Vintage automobiles at the August Horch Museum in Zwickau (Photo Holger-Stein)

MachineBoom is located in the Chemnitz Industrial Museum where machines have been designed and produced for more than 200 years, from the filigree clockwork at Glashütte to the high-tech machine center.

Schauplatz Eisenbahn (Railway Museum) Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf (Photo Johnny Ullmann)

RailwayBoom is on the site of the Schauplatz Eisenbahn (Railway Museum) Chemnitz-Hilbersdorf, where you can see the industrial juxtaposition of people, raw materials and products in an open-air museum, located near the historic steam and diesel locomotives in the sooty atmosphere of a roundhouse.

The CoalBoom exhibit is shown in the Mining Museum in Oelsnitz / Erzgebirge, or within the Ore Mountains where the coal industry, which was fundamental for the economic development of south-west Saxony, started. The Ore Mountains, in Central Europe, have formed a natural border between Saxony and Bohemia for around 800 years, from the 12th to the 20th centuries. Today, the border between Germany and the Czech Republic runs just north of the main crest of the mountain range. The highest peaks are the Keilberg, which rises to 4,081-feet, and the Fichtelberg, at 3,986-feet.

The area played an important role in contributing Bronze Age ore, and as the setting of the earliest stages of the transformation of mining and metallurgy from a craft to a large-scale industry, a process that preceded and enabled the later Industrial Revolution. In 2019 the Erzgebirge/Krušnohoří Mining Region became a UNESCO World Heritage site.

TextileBoom is located in the originally preserved cloth factory called ‘Tuchfabrik Gebr. Pfau’ that was built in 1885. The mills remained in family ownership until 1972 when they were incorporated into VEB Volltuchwerke Crimmitschau. In 1990, the whole site of the Tuchfabrik Gebr. Pfau cloth mill was declared a national heritage site. Its size and the original historic buildings and machinery make it a unique attraction in Central Europe.

TextileBoom artifacts are reflected in the historic Tuchfabrik Gebr. Pfau (factory mill) in Crimmitschau (Photo Kristin Schmidt)


Visitors can follow the production line of woollen cloth step by step on guided tours, beginning with the raw wool to the readily packed rolls of fabric. The machines are demonstrated by former employees of the regional textile industry. This way, visitors can gain an insight not only into technical history but also into the work and life of the textile workers. Tuchfabrik Gebr. Pfau, in Crimmitschau, along with its 100 year-old machines and looms, are presented in a factory that has not changed since very much since the late 1800′s.

Interior view of restored Tuchfabrik Gebr. Pfau in Crimmitschau Saxony (Photo Anne Dietrich)

SilverBoom is located in the research and teaching at the Silver Mine Freiberg and provides deep insights into the history of ore mining and shows what role current scientific research plays in resource technologies. With 800 years of mining tradition, 1000 ore veins and active mining, the visitor´s mine of Freiberg is part of the resarch and teaching mine of the Technical University of Freiberg and one of the most important mines in Saxony. The deposits of Freiberg where the basis for the development of the Mining and Metallurgical Industry in the ore mountains.
The “Underground Freiberg“ spreads over an area of 30 square-kilometers underneath the city, where more than 5,000 tons of pure silver where unearthed and made Freiberg Germany’s “silver city.”

In addition to these six geographic locations, the central exhibition in the Audi Building presents Saxony’s 500-year industrial “booms” in six time periods. It tells the eventful history of an early industrialized region with historical documents, objects, technical devices, photographs and through films and valuable works of art and spectacular media installations.

The first period of the five hundred years of industrial culture was the Silver Rush (1470-1813) when the discovery of silver in the Ore Mountains set off a clamor, not only for silver but also for tin and copper. It was an unprecedented boom and attracted people from all over Europe. Augustus the Strong used this incredible wealth to build up the coffers of his state, buying art and collecting treasures from around the world to build Dresden into one of Europe’s glittering capitals of art and architecture.

Visiting one of the silver mines at Silberbergwerk Freiberg (Photo Detlev Muelle Müller / TU Bergakademie)

The second period from 1763 to 1914 saw the emergence of the textile industry and mechanical engineering which drove development in Saxony and around the world. In 1914 Saxony was the most industrialized state in the entire German Reich. During this era, there was a third period from 1831 to 1914 with apid development in technology, science and machines. The fourth period from the eve of WWI to the end of WWII is marked by groundbreaking inventions and unprecedented, industrially shaped and organized violence.

The fifth period from 1945 to 1995 includes the industrial culture of East Germany, when the Trabant automobile was a symbol of the East German economic system. It focuses on the working world and everyday life of people up to the political turn as well as the opportunities and structural and social changes that the fall of the Berlin Wall brought about. The final period from 2020 to the future is all about what is to come, including the future of technology in Saxony. Positive developments are emerging from Saxony’s keen entrepreneurial spirit, innovations based on research and knowledge and the ability to constantly change.

It is appropriate that the Saxon state has chosen the Audi Building in Zwickau as the place for the central exhibition as this was an assembly hall of Auto Union AG from 1938. The Auto Union was the coming together of four independent Saxon car manufacturers: Audi, DKW, Horch and Wanderer. Audi’s logo of four interlocking rings represents these original four members of the Auto Union, although the word “Audi” is actually a Latin derivation of Horch’s name which means hark or Audi in Latin.

The Audi Building, as well as the Horch Museum in Zwickau, is just a 1:15 minute drive drive from Leipzig or Dresden. Of course, even if some travelers cannot visit in 2020, the museums in each of the towns will always be there, as well as the excellent hotel accommodations and culinary venues in Saxony’s small villages and large urbvan areas, and the striking beauty of Saxony’s mountains, forests and rivers.

Corvid-19 Advisory for travel to Saxony
Since May 15, 2020, theaters, musical theaters, cinemas, concert halls, concert venues, opera houses and leisure and amusement parks in Saxony and Germany have been able to open, on condition that a hygiene concept approved by the local authority is submitted. Wearing a mask is mandatory when using public transport in Germany and when shopping. Shops and restaurants must observe distancing and hygiene regulations. All large-scale events are generally prohibited until October 31, 2020. Since July 2, 2020, travel to EU countries, including Germany, from the U.S. has been restricted. U.S. citizens wishing to travel to the EU must check with the German/EU Foreign Office at https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/en/coronavirus/2317268w for travel updates.

Veitastrond Journal: Trekking Cabins Near Norwegian Glacier

Distant view of cabins at Tungestølen with mountains (photo Jan M. Lillebø)

by Ron Bernthal

Situated in the western part of Norway on a small plateau overlooking the beautiful Jostedalsbreen Glacier, Tungestølen is the name of a group of new, pentagonal-shaped cabins designed by the Norwegian architectural firm Snøhetta for a local branch of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT).

Some of the uniquely shaped cabins at Tungestølen (designed by Snøhetta_photo by Jan M. Lillebø)

Designed for the changing weather conditions of this mountainous site, the four new Tungestølen cabins opened in June, 2020, offering visitors a comfortable and design-friendly overnight shelter every year from about late-June to to mid-October.

On Christmas Day, 2011, the original Tungestølen cabin, which had served as an important destination for glacier hikers for more than a century, was destroyed by the cyclone Dagmar that swept over Norway and neighboring countries. Determined to replace the old cabin, Luster Turlag, the local branch of the Norwegian Trekking Association, along with the small village of Veitastrond, located three miles from the original cabin, raised enough funds for the first phase of constructions, and iniated an international architectural competition among design firms with experience working in rural areas. In 2015 Snøhetta won the competition and the first four cabins are now open to the public. An additional five cabins will be constructed when the second fund-raising drive is completed.

Village of Veitastrond in western Norway (photo VisitNorway)

In the meantime, the four new Snøhetta-designed cabins use pentagonal and oblique construction, made with wooden gluelam framing, covered by sheets of cross laminated timber, and covered in ore pine. The outward-facing walls of the cabins have been given a beak-like shape to slow down the strong winds that sweep up from the valley floor. Inside, the shape of the cabins frame the mountains and valleys outside through angular and panoramic windows, adding views and light to the spaces.

Window frame with view (photo Jan M. Lillebø)

The main cabin at Tungestølen offers a space well-suited for group meals around large, wooden tables. At its highest, the main cabin ceiling measures 14 feet, creating a social meeting spot with panoramic views overlooking the surrounding landscape. The main cabin also contains a lounge with a large stone fireplace, offering a cozy retreat from the sometimes chilly summer days outside.

The remaining cabins consist of a dormitory and smaller private units. Once all nine cabins are completed in the next construction phase, Tungestølen will have enough capacity to accommodate up to 50 visitors.

Surrounded by a dramatic landscape with steep mountains on all sides, Tungestølen serves as a perfect starting point for experienced hikers who wish to explore the local glaciers in guided groups, but also for families with small children who prefer to take shorter and less advanced hikes in the surrounding area. The nearest town, Veitastrond, is surrounded on three sides by Jostedalsbreen National Park, and sits at the northern end of an isolated valley. The town is just ten minutes from Tungestølen by car, or a pleasant one-hour walk along the pretty Storelvi river. If driving from Bergen, expect a five-hour trip (about 165 miles) through spectacular scenery, including a fjord-crossing car-ferry.

Scenery along the Storelvi river near near Veitastrond and Tungestølen (photo VisitNorway)

Smaller cabins designed by Snøhetta (photo Jan M. Lillebø)

Norway is home to the largest public trekking hut system in the world, a way of life for many Norwegians, and becoming more popular with international visitors as well. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) oversees more than 500 cabins across the country, often located throughout Norway’s National Parks as well as in other areas of natural beauty. While many of the huts are spare and rustic, others are more generous in size and offer restaurant-style dining areas and lovely bedrooms. Opening and closing times for the hwing

Dining room table with window view at Tungestølen (photo Jan M. Lillebø)

There are three categories of huts/cabins – staffed lodges, self-service, and no-service cabins. Access to self-service and no-service cabins require a DNT master key available only to DNT members. DNT staffed lodges are open to members and non-members alike, but DNT members are offered a discounted rate for accommodations and food.

A “lodge” is the correct term for the most developed, staffed trekking cabins, with prepared meals, electricity, and hot showers available. They are located in higher use areas, may have longer open dates, and receive see a large amount of visitors during summer. Sleeping arrangements are mostly in one and two-bunk private rooms, and one of the highlights is the family-style three-course meals made from local ingredients and with bountiful portions.

Small, traditional mountain cabin in Sisli (photo Mette Martinsen)

While most huts are quite rustic, often built in the traditional, Norwegian country-style look, Norway is presently undergoing a surge in designing innovative urban and rural structures, from office buildings to mountain huts, always using local materials and colors that blend seemlessly into the environment.

As an example, visitors to Norway’s Skjervsfossen waterfall can watch the Storelvi river rush by through a glazed floor panel in the restrooms of a nearby service building, which is built from local stone to accentuate its connection with the surrounding landscape. Bergen-based architecture studio Fortunen designed the small service building containing two restrooms and a technical room at the site of the waterfall in Norway’s Granvin region. The Norwegian Public Roads Administration and National Tourist Routes in Norway had asked Fortunen to create striking, but low-key restrooms that would complement the rugged riverside site and make the most of the views towards the adjacent cliffs and valley.Tall, narrow windows and glass panels set into the concrete restroom floors provide views of the river, forest and mountainside that ascends steeply upwards in front of the building.

Norway’s popular Scenic Routes have attracted many other significant architectural commissions in recent yeas, including a mining museum on stilts by Peter Zumthor, and Reiulf Ramstad’s visitor center and path network that zigzags across a rugged mountain landscape.

Snøhetta, headquartered in Oslo, has received design commissions for the Norwegian National Opera in Oslo and the National September 11 Memorial Museum Pavilion at the World Trade Center in New York City, among many others. Other recently completed works in North America include Calgary’s new Central Library, the reconstruction of Times Square in New York City, and the expansion to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Nordhavn Journal: Two Metro Stations Symbolize Denmark’s Newest Design Destination

New Orientkaj metro station in Nordhavn’s historic docklands area. Revitalized Nordhavn has become a hot destination for new architecture, furniture showrooms, design studios, boutique hotels and new dining venues. (photo © Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST)

by Ron Bernthal

From savvy new architecture and design galleries to seaside bathing and amazing dining venues,  Nordhavn is a revitalized Danish city located on the Øresund strait, just 10-15 minutes from Copenhagen’s center city via the new M4 Metro line.

Danish architecture studio Cobe, in collaboration with the London-based engineering firm Arup, have designed the newly opened elevated Orientkaj Metro station, and the underground Nordhavn Metro stations, both of which opened in March, 2020, as part of the revitalization of Copenhagen’s northern docklands area. One of the main projects of the regeneration is the Nordhavn extension of Copenhagen’s M4 metro line, a dual- track line branching off from the City Circle Line M3 metro, which opened in 2019.

Nordhavn aerial view showing two new metro stations and surrounding terrain (photo Rasmus Hjortshoj – COAST)

The two new metro stations are part of the redevelopment of a large area of the historic docklands, located on the north side of Copenhagen, that will eventually create 16 million square-feet of sustainable mixed-use buildings, 40,000 residential units, office space for 40,000 people, and plenty of new retail and culinary venues, all part of an urban master plan designed by Cobe. The redevelopment of Copenhagen’s northern suburb of Nordhavn, including the new public transport link, is one of the largest urban regeneration projects in northern Europe.

Orientkaj Metro station. Views from the station platform were a key design consideration. On a clear day passengers can look across the Øresund into Sweden (photo credit Rasmus Hjortshoj – COAST)

The two stations possess distinct visual characteristics that reflect the local communities they serve. Using the outline of a shipping container, the overground Orientkaj Station celebrates the large scale and brutalist architectural features of the dockland’s industrial past, but reveals a more gentle, human-focused detailing in the station’s interior. The station is designed as a glass, concrete and aluminium box commandeering panoramic views over the Orientkaj docks and the Øresund, the body of water separating Sweden and Denmark. The new underground Nordhavn Station nearby uses a theme from the M3 line station design, the distinctive red colors of the M3 line transfer stations.

New Nordhavn Metro underground station (photo Rasmus Hjortshoj – COAST)

The new Line 4 metro extension runs between Copenhagen’s Central Station to Nordhavn Station (8 minutes) and Orientkaj Station (13 minutes), with trains at 10-minute intervals. Both stations are expecting about 9,000 daily users by 2025, as Nordhavn increases its residential and working commuter population.

Orientkaj Metro Station (exterior photo Rasmus Hjortshoj – COAST)

From a harbor area with free port status in the late 1800′s to a 21st-century city with vibrant and colorful new neighborhoods, Nordhavn is one of Denmark’s fastest growing areas. Nordhavn (The North Harbor) is located on the Øresund coast, just 3-4 miles from the Copenhagen’s city centre, and offers direct access to the sea, as well as a multitude of recreational urban spaces, new design attractions, boutique hotels and new cafes.

“Nordhavn is an area of sustainable mobility, where it is easier to walk, bike or use public transport, than it is to drive your own car. The two metro stations unlock the potential of this new Copenhagen city district enabling more efficient and sustainable transport between the individual neighbourhoods, and to the rest of Copenhagen, while adding a new chapter to the story of the Copenhagen harbor front,” said Dan Stubbergaard, architect and founder of Copenhagen’s Cobe architectural studio.

Unlike Paris’ 100 year-old Metro, and London’s vast Underground, established in 1863, Copenhagen’s transport network is very much a 21st century, work-in-progress project. First opened in 2002, the last two decades have seen the Copenhagen Metro steadily growing, its linear, driver-less, rapid-transport lines spreading outwards from Copenhagen’s center to the to the city’s vibrant new neighborhoods. For the recently completed Nordhavn metro line extension, connecting the northern docklands to downtown Copenhagen, designers decided against a generic architectural style for the two new stations (Orientkaj and Nordhavn), using a ‘passenger-focused’ approach that celebrates the character and industrial past of the docklands district.

Copenhagen metro, a modern transport system that opened in 2002 (photo Daniel Rasmussen Copenhagen Media Center)

“The design of Orientkaj station provides a great passenger experience for visitors to this growing area of Copenhagen,” said Arup’s lead architect, Kristian Winther. “Anticipating a future high-rise development next to the station, the architects used anodised aluminium panels on all façades to maximise sky reflection, ensuring that the building offers congenial lines of sight from all angles. Views from the station platform were also a key design consideration, the large, glass-plated platform screen doors mean that, on a clear day, passengers can look across the Øresund strait directly into neigbouring Sweden.”

Inside, the vast rectangular hall is column-free, supported by the external concrete frames, skylights representing the shed roofs found in the area’s former industrial buildings, allowing natural light to flood the station during the day. Integrated lighting fixtures provide a pleasant glow at night. The scale of the brutalist, concrete exterior is juxtaposed with polished detailing inside, adding a practical material to the station, while white, hexagonal mosaic covers the stairs and lift towers, with corners rounded for a softer, more human-friendly finish.

Development work in Nordhavn began in 2009 and for a time the area was little more than a construction site, but historic buildings like The Silo, Kanonhuset, Havnehuset and Frihavnstårnet now house residents, while businesses occupy dynamic structures like Portland Towers, office buildings converted from twin cement silos.

The Silo was a former grain silo transformed into a 107,000 square-foot residential complex with public facilities. The 17-storey building, opened in 2017, is a natural point of orientation in Nordhavn. The Silo has 39 unique apartments and the top and lower levels provide public access space.The “glass box” on top of the building is designed as a public restaurant and viewing platform. The glass façade mirrors the surroundings during the daytime, almost vanishing into the sky.

Historic grain silo before conversion into The Silo residential tower (photo below) in Nordhavn. Project conversion design by Cobe architects.

The Silo residential building in Nordhavn after conversion from historic grain silo in 2017. Design by Cobe. (photo Rasmus Hjortshoj – COAST)

Redeveloped warehouses and shimmering new buildings in Nordhavn blend styles, sizes and heights on fragmented, small-scale plots. The new school building project for the Copenhagen International School was designed by C.F. Møller Architects to link the school premises with the public sphere in the urban environment.

All this is criss-crossed by new canals showing Nordhavn’s special connection to the water as well as a planned marina. The area also offers excellent eco-credentials. Buildings and the area’s energy supply are environmentally friendly. Greenery is used creatively, with residential roofs carpeted with plants, and even a modern, outdoor recreational facility on the roof of the Konditaget Lüders parking garage.

A ‘five-minute city’ of small hops between housing, work, day care, transport, recreation and shopping amenities, Nordhavn’s ongoing revitalization encourages walking, biking and using public transport, all part of the Danish lifestyle. Soon, a ‘super bikeway’ will be opened from Nordhavn to downtown Copenhagen, allowing bikers to ride on a smooth bike path largely uninterrupted by streetlights and automobile intersections.

UN City complex (left) and Portland Towers (right) in Nordhavn_photo Daniel Rasmussen Copenhagen Media Center

In Sundmolen, another revitalized neighborhood within Nordhavn, several design studios have opened new offices there, including Cobe, Vilhelm Lauritzen, Gottlieb Paludan, and the Lendager Group. The noted Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will soon join them.

The new school building for the Copenhagen International School, designed by C.F. Møller Architects, links the school premises with the public sphere in the urban environment. The new school building (see below) has 12,000 solar panels, each individually angled to create a sequin-like effect, which will supply more than half of the school’s annual electricity consumption. The solar cells cover a total area of 65,000 square-feet, making it one of the largest building-integrated solar power plants in Denmark.

Nordhavn’s new building for the Copenhagen International School designed by C.F. Møller Architects (photo Adam Møerk)

Where to stay when visiting? The Danish design brand MENU has moved its headquarters to the Århusgade district of Nordhavn, where visitors have an opportunity to stay at a boutique hotel that is actually part of Menu’s new headquarters, a hybrid concept called The Audo.

One of the loft-style guest rooms at The Audo a new hotel in Nordhavn designed by the Danish firm Norm Architects for the MENU brand. (photo The Audo)

Teaming up with Copenhagen’s Norm Architects, a restored 1918 building consisting of a boathouse and a Neo-Baroque residence, opened in spring, 2019, with a beautiful, minimalistic makeover. The designers developed special concrete flooring and walls, and used warming brass accents to lift the industrial architecture. Within the same building, there are now offices, a cafe, co-working spaces, a concept store and a hotel. Located on the top floor, The Audo Residence is a 10-room boutique hotel that offers understated and intimate loft-style guest rooms. The entire building offers stunning interiors filled with artwork, and public performance spaces are used for lectures, meetings and design and fashion shows.

Copenhagen Metro Map showing M4 extension to Orientkaj Station upper right (map courtesy Metroselskabet_The Copenhagen Metro)

Paris Journal: World’s Largest Rooftop Urban Farm

By Ron Bernthal

Nature Urbaine will become the world’s largest rooftop urban farm and garden when it opens in Paris on June 22, 2020 (image courtesy City of Paris)


Paris has been turning its urban rooftops into works of art. Where else in the world would beautiful mini-farms, filled with the brilliant colors and fragrances of plants and vegetables sprout from the city’s rooftops, many stories above the busy streets of the City of Light, and sometimes even below the streets.

The eco-farm of La Recyclerie, installed along the old railway line at Porte de Clignancourt, and the organic mushroom operation, La Caverne, located in an underground car park at Porte de La Chapelle, is producing tasty vegetables. Even the city’s Montparnasse Tower is rumored to be getting its own growing space, and an installation of an urban farm of over 3,200 square-feet has been established on the sun-splashed roof terrace of the Mercure Paris Boulogne Hotel in the Boulogne Billancourt neighborhood. Created by Agripolis, a Parisian-based urban rooftop farm developer, the aerial growing spaced provides fresh produce to the hotel’s restaurant.

Rooftop garden, named “Toit D’un Hotel” at Accor’s Mercure Paris Boulogne Hotel (photo Agripolis)

Currently finishing construction in the south-west district of Paris will be Nature Urbaine, covering approximately 151,000 square-feet, with planhs to grow more than 30 different plant species, as well as producing close to 2,200 pounds of fruit and vegetables every day during high season. Created by Agripolis, the operation will be run by about 20 gardeners, who will be using only organic methods in the growing process.

Nature Urbaine during final construction before opening in June, 2020. The massive rooftop farm and garden is the newest rooftop agricultural project in Paris.
(photo Agripolis)

Located on the top of Expo Porte de Versailles’ Pavilion 6,  a major exhibition complex in the 15th arrondissement, the rooftop farm and garden will have its own on-site restaurant and bar with capacity for about 300 people. The famous Parisian rooftop restaurant brand Le Perchoir will take over the panoramic terrace of Pavilion 6 and open a chic bar and restaurant, whose menu will of course include many of the organic products grown on-site.

Irrigated vegetable garden at Nature Urbaine (photo Agripolis)

The high-quality fruits and vegetables of Nature Urbaine is not only for visitors looking for a healthy meal grown without pesticides, but the venue will also offer garden space for rentals by city residents, as well as workshops and educational visits for children. There are 135 rental plots of 10 square-feet each, and reserving a plot (320 euros or about US$362) for a period of one year gives the right to grow your own produce, along with a welcome kit and an access badge to the farm.

“The urban farm will also supply the inhabitants of the south of Paris and neighboring municipalities, directly or through distribution, to collective catering outlets and hotels,” said Pascal Hardy, founder of Agripolis. The construction of the urban rooftop farm is part of a larger project for the modernization of Paris’ Porte de Versailles, initiated in 2015 by Viparis, the venue’s manager. The popular exhibition center is now becoming even ‘greener’ thanks to the urban farm on the roof of the Expo’s Pavilion 6.

Club Med Survey Ranks Best Euro Cities for Culture

View of Salzburg at night. City is ranked #1 in survey for Best Cultural City in Europe. (photo ©Tourismus Salzburg)

Ron Bernthal

If you are of a certain age, you probably remember Club Méditerranée as a chain of hedonistic Caribbean resorts, where ‘culture’ would not be the first word a visitor would use to describe a Club Med vacation.

Founded in 1950 as a straw hut “village” on a beach in Majorca, the company now operates more than 71 resorts around the world, as well as offering cruises on the 5-mast Club Med 2 sailing ship, and luxury tours with Circuits Découverte by Club Med.

The company recently published a survey of European cultural hot spots, and although the survey focuses on its UK travelers, it should be of interest to everyone thinking of spending holidays immersed in European, urban culture.

According to the Club Med survey, Salzburg tops the culture rankings. Looking at 43 cities across Europe, when it comes to culture, Salzburg, Austria, is the best place to go. It beat many of the tourist culture hotspots to the top spot, including Venice, which slipped into 2nd place, Paris, which was down in 8th, and Rome, which only ranked as average for culture, in 28th place.

Salzburg has a strong balance of attractions that are museums, nature, expensive restaurants, and landmarks. Not to mention the average restaurant score on TripAdvisor is a reliable 4.6. At the same time, it’s not too big on nightlife, it’s a place you’ll go to for an unforgettable trip rather than one you’ll forget after too much beer.

Other European cities that ranked highly for their culture, according to the survey, include the Portuguese city of Funchal in 3rd place, the Swedish capital of Stockholm in 4th, and the Norwegian capital of Oslo in the 5th. Position.

Here are the standings:

Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw (photo courtesy Muzeum POLIN)

Another part of the survey involved ranking cities based on value – using various costs in each city, including airfare from the UK, compared to the actual number of cultural amenities, where would visitors get the most bang for their buck, euro or pound?

As it happens, Warsaw is the place. Club Med compared the city’s culture score to the average cost of the essentials of a cultural holiday: return flight cost, meal cost, and attraction cost. In Warsaw, you can get a return flight, 14 meals, and 17 attractions for £300 ($378.00), or just £74.44 ($93.84) for a weekend of culture in the city, excluding your flight.

Here are the ten best destinations for the best balance between culture and cash spend:

For UK travelers, there is a wide array of airports with flights to cultural destinations. Comparing the percentage of high culture destinations offered to the percentage of passengers flying to these destinations, and factoring in the average culture score for the destinations offered, Club Med calculated that London Heathrow came out on top, getting an average culture score of 5.2, with 33% of its destinations offered being high culture, and 27% of passengers flying to them. The second most ‘cultured’ airport was Southampton, while the Scottish capital of Edinburgh was third.

View of Heathrow Airport, UK’s airport with the most ‘cultural’ destinations ( photo courtesy Heathrow Airports Limited)

Here’s the list of UK airports with the most cultural destinations.

Antigua & Barbuda Prepares to Reopen

View of English Harbor (© Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Photo ©Simply Antigua Barbuda)

by Ron Bernthal

The Government of Antigua & Barbuda has announced a phased approach to the reopening of the country’s tourism and hospitality industry as they prepare to welcome the first guests back on the island on June 4th, 2020, the first day of Phase 1. The Ministry of Health, Wellness & Environment has determined that the country is now ready to reopen the borders to international and regional travelers, while utilizing a phased and controlled approach. Phase 2 is expected to begin in mid-September 2020.

A series of travel safety protocols are being introduced which impact every element of the visitor experience, from arrivals at ports of entry, through ground transfers, resort accommodations, restaurants, tours and attractions.

Sea-Gapes on the Beach in Antigua.(©Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Photo ©Simply Antigua Barbuda)

“The health and safety of our residents and our visitors will always be our top priority,” stated the Hon. Charles “Max” Fernandez, Minister of Tourism & Investment. “Despite the severe economic strain on our economy resulting from the closure of our tourism industry, we waited until we were in a position to reassure both our citizens and our prospective guests that every precaution is being taken to ensure a safe and enjoyable vacation experience. The travel safety protocols have been developed under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, with the full support and cooperation of our stakeholders.”

Beautiful beach on the island of Barbuda. (©Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority

“We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Antigua and Barbuda,” said Colin James, CEO, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority. “While we look forward to our borders opening, this is still a highly unprecedented time and we realize that we are now entering a new and ever-changing landscape. Priorities in the travel industry have shifted, and our visitors’ priorities are different, we have worked diligently across all sectors on the islands as well as in collaboration with our Caribbean neighbors to prepare for the new normal and to ensure a healthy and safe environment for all.”

Galleon Beach, Antigua (©Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Photo ©Simply Antigua Barbuda).jpg

Phase one of the reopening includes the following safety measures:
• All arriving passengers must have a mask in their possession for use on disembarkation, which must be worn in public areas throughout their stay in Antigua and Barbuda.
• All arriving passengers must complete a health declaration form. Screenings and thermal checks will occur on arrival and passengers may be asked to undergo a rapid antigen test on arrival or at their hotel.
• With regard to airport transfers, up to 4 members of a family are allowed in a single vehicle while larger commercial passenger transport vehicles are permitted to carry only 50% of the vehicle seating capacity, for example 7 passengers in a 15 –seater vehicle. Vehicles must be kept clean and sanitized after each trip, and all will be equipped with hand sanitizer. All vehicles will be subject to random inspections by public health officers and certified vehicles will clearly display a decal indicating safety approval.
• Passengers arriving by sailing craft (private yachts/Ferry Services) are subject to the guidelines issued by Port Health.
• All hospitality accommodations to include hotels, resorts, villas and home rentals must satisfy the stipulations of the Ministry of Health Wellness and the Environment and be certified prior to reopening to welcome visitors.
• Restaurant dining protocols include enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, incorporate physical distancing measures, and will offer à la carte dining and delivery or takeout services, instead of buffet.

Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, offering two uniquely distinct experiences, ideal temperatures year-round, a rich history, vibrant culture, exhilarating excursions, award-winning resorts, mouth-watering cuisine and 365 stunning pink and white-sand beaches – one for every day of the year.

Betty’s Hope, Antigua. (© Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Photo © Simply Antigua Barbuda

The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua’s 108 square-miles offer spectacular topography that provides a variety of sightseeing opportunities, including Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort UNESCO World Heritage site. Antigua also attracts visitors for popular events like Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the annual Antigua Carnival, known as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.

When the first commercial flight touched down in Antigua and Barbuda since the COVID-19 crisis began, arriving passengers were greeted by a host of new anti-infection procedures — as the destination officially reopened for tourism on June 4.
Of Antigua’s nearly 40 hotels, resorts, condos and guest apartments, here are the properties that have already opened as of June 4, 2020: Admirals Inn and Gunpowder Suites; Antigua Village; The Buccaneer Beach Club; The Hawksbill Resort; The Heritage Hotel, Hodges Bay Resort & Spa; Tamarind Hills, Hammock Cove Resort, and Sandals Grande Antigua. Others will open in the coming weeks and months.

An Afternoon in the Valley ©Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority Photo ©Simply Antigua Barbuda

Barbuda, Antigua’s smaller sister island, is the ultimate hideaway. The island lies 27 miles north-east of Antigua, just a 15-minute plane ride away. Barbuda is known for its untouched 17 mile stretch of pink sand beach and as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. There are a number of smaller islands that a part of the Commonwealth of Antigua & Barbuda, including Great Bird, Green, Guiana, Long, Maiden, Prickly Pear, York and further south, the island of Redonda). The permanent population of all the islands is about 95,900, with 97% living on Antigua, and about half of those living in the capital city of St. John’s.

In 2017 Barbuda, which covers only 62 square miles, was the first to feel the force of Hurricane Irma. When the storm made landfall on September 6th, it hit Barbuda with about 150 mph winds, damaging an estimated 90% of the island’s properties. All of its 1,600 residents were evacuated to Antigua, but most have by now returned. Because of Barbuda’s low-key tourism, and its small, sustainable fishing and lobster industry, the island attracts leisure visitors who desire a quiet environment, with less touristic activities. The largest town on Barbuda is Codrington, with about 700-800 residents. Check with the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority for current updates on open accommodations on both islands.

Getting There: Due to Covid-19 flight restrictions, contact your preferred air carrier for schedule updates to Antigua & Barbuda from the U.S. The routes and frequencies below may have changed.
• American Airlines flies direct from JFK and from Miami on a daily basis.
• United Airlines flies direct from Newark (EWR) every Saturday and Sunday.
• Delta Airlines flies direct from Atlanta (ATL) and from JFK every Saturday.
• U.S. Airways flies direct from Charlotte NC (CTL) every Saturday.
• Jet Blue flies direct from JFK.

Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Authority

Barbados Journal: Hyatt to Build on Carlisle Bay

by Ron Bernthal

Hyatt has partnered with a Barbadian company to build the Hyatt Ziva Barbados in the island’s Carlisle Bay. The all-inclusive resort, scheduled to open in 2022, will have 380 guest rooms, 40 condominiums and six premier rooms. It will be Barbados’ first new-build hotel in over a decade.

The proposed Hyatt Ziva Barbados will be the first new build property in Barbados in the past 10 years. (Rendering courtesy Hyatt Hotels & Resorts)

Originally announced and conceived in 2018 as the Hyatt Centric brand, and scheduled to open in 2019, the new $175-million project has received a major upgrade, joining other family-friendly Hyatt Ziva brands all-inclusive resorts, with locations in Montego Bay, Jamaica; Cap Cana, Dominican Republic and Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

The property will have a conference center and an overwater restaurant. It will feature beach access and focus on sourcing local products, including food, spirits, and arts and crafts and décor. It will sit on three parcels of land totaling almost 200,00 square-feet of beachfront property in the Carlisle Bay area in Bridgetown, St. Michael.

Aerial view of the project (courtesy Hyatt Hotels & Resorts)

The project will offer many benefits to the surrounding area, and to Barbados in general, starting with offering 2,000 jobs during construction, and 1,500 full time jobs after completion. Infrastructure improvements to surrounding neighborhoods include improved beach access and amenities along Shurland Alley, as well as monetary contributions to upgrade the Bridgetown sewage system. Barbadians will have access to the hotel, and creating partnerships with local suppliers will be essential. The project is anticipated to begin in late 2020 and take two years to complete. It is expected that direct investment on the island as a result of the hotel will be over US$175 million.

Marching band in Bridgetown during a Barbados festival (Barbados Tourism)

As part of the Hyatt Ziva Barbados design, attention and care has been given to the much needed addition of another world-class conference facility in Barbados. Existing aspects of significant historical and architectural value will be respected and incorporated into the project. For example, the Old Harbour Police Wall will be included in the design.

One of many beaches on the island of Barbados (Barbados Tourism)

The property will also include environmental aspects, including capturing water for reuse for irrigation and non-potable usage, all faucets, toilets and showers will be fitted with water saving devices, and the evelopers, through sustainable design and operations, will actively support positive social. environment and economic development in Barbados. Health and safety procedures will be put in place and strictly adhered to in the construction process to mitigate discomfort (dust, noise, etc.) to its residential and business neighbours.

Barbados Tourism

Bucharest Journal: New $3 Billion Development Project Proposed for Downtown

Ron Bernthal, Editor
Nicoleta Banila, Writer/SeeNews


Romania’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIR) and real estate developer Iulius are proposing a $3.21 billion investment plan for construction of a mixed-use project around the existing Romexpo exhibition center in Bucharest, according to Nicoleta Banila of SeeNews.

Proposal from Romanian developer Iulius for new, $3.21 billion mixed-use project near the existing Romexpo exhibition center in downttown Bucharest. (rendering courtesy Iulius)

The investment would be made in stages, and the project is expected to create some 30,000 new jobs when completed in 2021. 

Based on a mixed-use concept, which combines artistic, cultural and social attractions with entrepreneurial support functions, the project aims to transform the Romexpo exhibition center into an economic catalyst for the local economy.

“We are aiming at including Romexpo into the international circuit, and we are trustful that the ancillary functions will be able to not only place us on the map of the European hot spots in the field, but also to revive Bucharest, from a social, cultural and financial perspective. A project of such significance requires the cooperation and involvement of the public and private sectors, as well as support from the authorities and the community,” said CCIR president Mihai Daraban.

The project integrates the Romexpo exhibition center in the northern part of Bucharest, which it aims to transform into a large conference and congress center, surrounded by museums, office buildings, parks, retail spaces and leisure centers. Moreover, the complex would host the largest oceanarium in Romania, a water park and a five-star hotel, according to CCIR.

Along with regional and international trade show and conference participants, the new project is expected to attract additional leisure visitors to Bucharest, Romania’s capital and largest city, where new and modern mixed-use projects, hotels, restaurants and cultural venues are recreating the city’s downtown and surburan areas in imaginative ways.

“The proposed project represents the materialization of a new development vision for the entire country, one that will represent us beyond borders, and bring us closer to Europe. It is an action that exceeds anything we have built so far in terms of urban revival, and we are certain that it will become an international landmark. This development is about community, Romanian symbols and local potential,” said Iulius president Iulian Dascalu.

The project also involves extensive investments in new solutions for the modernization of road and pedestrian infrastructure as well as for improved urban connectivity. Within the project, the largest parking lot in Romania would be built, with over 12,000 underground and above ground spaces.

Iulius Company, founded 20 years ago, has an operational portfolio comprising over 3.2 million square-feet of retail space and 2.7 million square-feet of class A office space in Romania, of which 1.1 million square-feet are under development.

Established in 1959, Romexpo is the largest exhibition center and indoor arena in Romania, primarily used for fairs, concerts, and sporting events. The complex hosts more than 150 exhibits and trade shows every year.

The huge Casa Presei Libere (House of the Free Press) is home to many of the city’s largest newspapers and is located close to the new Iulius proposed mixed-used project near Romexpo exhibition center.

CCIR is the majority shareholder of Romexpo SA, the company that runs the exhibition centre.In 2017, CCIR and Stoneberg, a company of Iulius group, signed an agreement for the management of the central pavilion within the exhibition centre, according to local media reports.

Colombo Journal: “City within a City” project advances Sri Lanka’s modern look

By Ron Bernthal

A new, mixed-use building project in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s capital, will soon bring additional attention to this island nation that has already become a destination where business investment in new hospitality projects has increased dramatically during the past several years.

Developed by the John Keells Group, Sri Lanka’s largest conglomerate, the highly anticipated Cinnamon Life project is expected to open in phases, beginning in late-2020 when a 30-story office tower and 427 residential units (in two additional towers) opens for new tennants. A year later the 5-star Cinnamon Life hotel will open with 800 guest rooms, a conference center for up to 4,700 meeting and convention attendees, numerous culinary venues, entertainment facilities, and five floors of retail space.

Cinnamon Life project, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Renderings courtesy Cinnamon Life)

“As the largest private sector investment project in Sri Lanka, with $850 (U.S) million, the development is attracting international investors looking for a prime real estate opportunity,” said Roshanie Jayasundera-Moraes, Chief Marketing Officer for Cinnamon Life. “This culinary and entertainment hub will continue to bring to Colombo an on-going series of world class events, and become the ultimate lifestyle hub on the island.”

(rendering courtesy Cinnamon Life)

The expansive complex is being constructed on Colombo’s Slave Island, a busy commercial area around the city’s natural harbour. Situated on and overlooking a bend in the docklands’ waterway, the architecture of the project, as well as its office, culinary and retail amenities, will attract both business and leisure visitors to Sri Lanka’s capital city. A collection of glazed towers will surround a sculptural “fin” of accommodations, out of which will protrude a series of cantilevered and supported boxes that will seem to float over a built up base below. The 10-acre development will redefine Colombo’s skyline, creating a modern and vibrant neighborhood in a city whose documented history goes back 3,000 years.

The project’s chief architect, Cecil Balmond, was born in Sri Lanka and has worked on the CCTV Tower in Beijing with Rem Koolhaas; the ArcelorMittal Orbit for London’s 2012 Olympics with Anish Kapoor; Scotland’s Star of Caledonia project, and many others. “Cinammon Life will be a composition of several forms, from an architecture and design point of view, and it will be like nothing Sri Lanka has ever seen,” Balmond said.

Working on a tea plantation in the Kandy region of Sri Lanka (photo courtesy Sri Lanka Tourism)

Several of Colombo’s oldest neighbourhoods are found in the area of Slave Island. The district was once surrounded by water, and where the Dutch kept slaves during colonial times, but after regeneration and development it is no longer an island in the traditional sense. Largely a derelict area during Sri Lanka’s 23 years of Civil War, it has become a vibrant commercial center, filled with government offices, restaurants, hospitals, corporate offices, cinemas, religious places, residential apsartments, and now the site of the massive Cinnamon Life project. The Headquarters of the Sri Lanka Air Force, Sri Lanka Army, and the City Football League are also located in the area.

However, while multilevel malls, new housing and hotel towers are rising above the area’s low-level historic buildings, visitors can still find quiet streets where Colombo’s past is visible. Although Union Place is on the edge of these new concrete structures, many narrow alleys reflect the city’s traditional 19th-century businesses and atmosphere. Some of the colonial storefronts still have trees growing out of their facades, and tiny shops in the area sell exotic products and offer locally sourced food and drinks, always appreciated during a hot and humid afternoon.

Colombo Malay Cricket Club on Slave Island (photo courtesy Abdul Halik Azeez)