Axel Towers – Copenhagen

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Lundgaard & Tranberg Architects have taken on the significant challenge of replacing the former Scala building in Copenhagen – a site opposite the central station in one of the busiest parts of the city centre. Their proposal is a cluster of 5 cylindrical towers, arranged in a staggered fashion. This site is prominent for the latest entrants to the city but also to the casual local shoppers. Fundamentally, it’s context is surrounded by well-established structures.

The towers have all but taken place in resplendent shimmering bronze, like varying stacks of pound coins arranged in a comparative fashion. It’s mass, colouring and openings seemingly echo it’s surroundings, but as a fun, contemporary vision.

Due for completion in 2017, it will open to shoppers at the lower levels and house 23000 sqft of ultra-modern office space above. I question rounded spaces for practicality but this building is more about being a showstopping cake than a rational box. It remains to be seen how successfully the building will be inhabited.

Despite its scale, it blends into its context reasonably, the stepped nature of the design is probably the key to this achievement. Also, at face value, the detailing is designed well and contributes to it not looking like a crappy modern building when viewed next to its neighbour. In comparison to the latest architecture that is being built in London today, I have to say the base level of quality in Copenhagen is high.

Often in London, the latest buildings seem to copy its neighbour to produce a contemporary but questionable vernacular. Whilst there are pluses to that in terms of creating certain consistency, I think what is achieved is usually monotony. Axel Tower’s current, yet superficial, success is that it has managed to fit into the city, not being afraid to test fun ideas, but without doing anything overly complicated.

P.S. bronze is in, everywhere.

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