Last updated: 24 May 2018
This year’s CAFx (2014-16 | Tingbjerg) took place from 27 April to 7 May with the theme of Arkitektur som identitet/Architecture as character. For social delights (mainly photos of people enjoying themselves) see Twitter | Facebook.
Co-founded by Josephine Michau, who has a background in film distribution, the festival quickly expanded to take in the black-clad big-glasses-wearing young urbanist set, as well as spreading outside the capital. It’s now really three festivals, with CAFx in Copenhagen, AAFx in Aarhus and ALAFx in Aalborg, all with plenty of lovely things.
Aalborg: haven’t been there since 2007, when it came over as pleasingly robust. Centred round the Utzon Center (2008) and the Create City Campus (2013), the programme gave a handy overview of current/recent developments, eg:
- rejuvenated havnefront and havnebad (2011) at Jomfru Ane Parken
- Musikkens Hus (2014) and Nordkraft (2011; Arkark)
- Karolinelund (2012), a former amusement park (tivoli) now hosting initiatives such as byhaver (urban gardening) and Platform 4
- new district springing up at Stigsborg Havnefront (Nørresundby; guided walk)
- Himmerland Ungdomsboliger (2014)
- more ungdomsboliger at Sankelmarksgade (former training college) and Poul Paghs Gade (former school)
Aarhus: visited in 2006, seemed like York on a dull day – not particularly urban, definitely not gritty. But as European (co-)Capital of Culture lots going on this year (interestingly, city architect Stephen Willacy is English and has been in DK for decades, as is the Capital of Culture director):
- international conference on “how architectural character forms our culture, identity and awareness”; session by the Future Architecture Platform inc inter alia We Made That
- pop-up venues include Rotunda, a pavilion hosting Rethink Arkitektur, and the Dome of Visions, in town since October 2016
- series of events on ‘welfare utopias’ at 1970s estate Gellerupparken, inc Never demolish!, an exhibition by Berlin-based Ruby Press in Gellerup Museum
Films: in a battle of BIG vs small, each city had showings of BIG Time (new Bjarke Ingels doc; Murmur | Politiken | DR) and Citizen Jane. I’m ambivalent about both figures, taking more to BIG lately for Jantelov-busting habits and buildings which are definitely not your usual boxy apartment block, but rather less to Jane J – the sidewalk ballet is too choreographed and as for eyes on the street, that’s just sinister.
Copenhagen: the hot topics may be Axel Towers (too shiny?), Palads Teatret (tear it down?) and Amager Fælled (build flats on it?), but here things were pleasingly more nuanced.
Let’s get this out of the way first:
- Bygningspræmiering 2016 (since 1902; Magasinet KBH | Politiken) – the awards for the best new buildings in town went to Vandkunsten’s byhuse at Havnevigen, Cirkelbroen, Krøyers Plads, the new-look Sankt Annæ Plads, Kvæsthusmolen, the Turbinehuset office building on Adelgade and the renovation of Folketeatret’s foyer on Nørregade
- see also AOK’s poll for Byens Bedste Urbane Initiativ, with a shortlist comprising Havneringen (harbour rebranding), Konditaget Lüders (gym atop a car park), Urban Rigger (student housing in shipper containers), SPACE10 (IKEA’s innovation lab in Kødbyen, which hosted a clutch of CAFx events) and Bycyklen (the somewhat troubled city bike scheme)
Walks on offer included a couple of performative delights. At Teglholmen, an interactive and performative walk from Studio Debris (FB) explored the past, present and future of this part of the harbour, where traces of the past are just about hanging on.
Anja Humljan’s The Urban Yoga, an exhibition with lecture and multi-sensory guided tour attached (also in Aarhus), aimed to “bring you back in touch with your living and working environment”.
The slogan for the Brug byen theme: The city is your playground!, was guaranteed to set my teeth on edge, and the blurb was somewhat perplexing:
Public space belongs to everyone! Or does it? This program dissects the different layers of the city, focusing on how we use the city – and on who uses it. While Airbnb turns private homes into tourist attractions, the recreational spaces of the city become more and more planned: public space should serve many purposes and users.
But how do we protect the hidden, inspiring, and unplanned spaces
where the city really does become a playground?…we will also seek out the places that oppose planning…we will start debates on the urban spaces of Copenhagen and Frederiksberg – all in order to find new playful and creative ways of being city-dwellers.
Let’s hear it for people who don’t want to play! Much of the city centre seems to be meticulously planned in the very name of play, as long as you follow one particular lifestyle that is…anyway, events included some tough questioning for Papirøen and other multi-functional architecture, public space as free space, and Indre By: hjem eller turistmål?, acknowledging Copenhagen’s current tourist boom.