fredag den 1. oktober 2010

City Walking in Albertslund 1968 and 2010

Our trip to Albertslund the 1th of October 2010 took its point of departure in the city walk, as a method and investigation of urban structures and new cities. This trip also marked Walking Distance’s 5th-year and reiterated the notion that it is still relevant to walk through the city, in conversation, on paths, through neighborhoods, across lawns, over walls, through tunnels and look up and down on what is and is not there.

The trip was guided by Ydre Nørrebro Kultur Bureau including Finn, Kirsten and Ninna. In 1968, a group of artists did so-called dérives in the newly built areas in Albertslund. Together with some of the artists from the original group, we did the walk again.

We began at the square in Albertslund. Where Finn Thybo Andersen presented to us photo documentation from the ‘68 trip of an urban area that was completely new at the time.

When you arrive with the S-train you walk down through the city, and from there you move around on paths, through tunnels and in an area of low buildings (mainly row houses, one and two stories).

”In the so-called finger plan from 1947, conducted by the architect Peder Bredsdorff, guidelines were made for the expansion of Copenhagen through five stolons (fingers) from the city center. Albertslund on the ”finger of Roskilde” got its master plan in 1957. The building south of the railway was erected in 1963-66 after the plans of Peter Bredsdorff and Knud Svensson and had a great significance on other similar buildings in Danish cities. The street network is rectangular, the running and pedestrian traffic are separated, and the varied dense-low housing of predominantly small yard houses are designed as an alternative to high-rise and detached houses.” (Den Store Danske)

This lack of horizon makes one feel a bit disoriented and can cause a loss of the sense of direction.

Here you see one of the canals that collect rainwater.

Albertslund is laid out like a garden city; inspired by the English Garden City Movement, which was established in 1898. The intention was to create an area with a balanced relationship between residential areas, industry and countryside.

Here are some of the row houses along the canal. If you look closer in the next image, you can see the changes in the houses’ surface.

The houses are covered with eternit, and it looks like in a later stage the surfaces have been covered with boards, maybe the plates are beginning to erode, the green fungus formations suggest it.

A number of estates have already been renovated. This housing unit is among them. But it has had an enormous effect on the rents which are expected to increase up to 50 %. Going from affordable housing, the rent on a three bedroom 90-sqm apartment will rise to above 10000 kr.

Along the canal and apartment houses is a small supermarket and a Chinese restaurant.

The only ”meeting places” we have seen outside the city center.

We continue along the canal and it leads us out of the residential area into a small wilderness.

Here is the hill that was originally created out of the extra dirt from the excavated city.

From the green area we move towards the built-up area again.

The modular system that Albertslund are built on is visible here. It does have similarities to an area of detached houses, but instead of being individual houses on their own lot, the houses meet, not in straight rows but staggered, so an inner room is created between them.

The yard houses each have a private area, a little yard shielded by a wood fence. The entrances of the houses are facing the street. Here it is possible to get a glimpse down into the gardens from an elevation.

From this side it is possible to look down on horses, goats and rabbits. On a beautiful autumn day like this Albertslund appears to be on its best behavior. If one ignores the worn houses and the relatively deserted streets.

What possibilities does Albertslund hold? Is it still an alternative to a city life far to expensive? Or does the cost increase prohibit that. Is there still the possibility of a vital social existence? Maybe Albertslund is an experiment that still needs to be tested out...