lørdag den 5. juni 2010

Examined Examined – Welfare institutions in Bispebjerg and Copenhagen NW

On this walk we shall be looking at the architecture and placing of welfare institutions in the city. How is equality installed in the urban scene? Are the institutions fairly distributed geographically? We start from Bispebjerg Hospital and pass some of the municipal institutions that have recently been established in the district.

Meeting-point: Bispebjerg S-train station on Tagensvej.

Bispebjerg Hospital was inaugurated in 1913. It was designed by Martin Nyrup, who was also the architect behind Copenhagen City Hall. The style is art nouveau with a strong focus on craftsmanship and concern for detail. The first part of the hospital consisted of a main building and 6 pavilions.

The facility is symmetrical and on a scale that makes the spaces between the buildings intimate and inviting. Light, air and vegetation were to contribute to the healing process.

The surrounding park is closely integrated with the hospital. Originally there were fruit trees and kitchen gardens between the buildings, which provided a degree of self-sufficiency.

Later additions to the hospital were of gradually poorer quality: from building L to the psychiatric emergency ward, which was originally built in 1968, unmistakably on the cheap.

The landscape architect C. Th. Sørensen designed a number of parks, and most of the courtyards in the new apartment blocks and social housing in Copenhagen NW and Bispebjerg. He says that ”most of the gardens established in connection with apartment blocks were created as fine gardens with lawns, trees and flowers, but without anywhere for the children to romp”. This was a practice that he discontinued. Most of the housing is of really high quality – also aesthetically – like this example, for which Sørensen also designed the open spaces.

In the 1920s the housing situation in Copenhagen was desperate, which led, among other things, to the City Council building three apartment blocks on Tomsgårdsvej. The apartments were small, 1-2 rooms without baths or hot water.

In the 1980s it became the practice in district psychiatry to release psychiatric patients to their own homes; in many cases this meant the 1-room apartments in the municipal housing on Tomsgårdsvej. In 1994 Copenhagen City Council sold its 20,000 apartments. The Council has right of referral to 1/3 of the homes in social housing, among other things the apartments administered by Foreningen Socialt Boligbyggeri in Bispeparken.

At 17-19 Tomsgårdsvej the municipality dispenses doctor-prescribed heroin. The reason for deciding to place the centre here was, among other things, that "a large proportion of the patients are resident in Copenhagen NW", which is partly a consequence of the housing policy. Another reason was that "premises at Tomsgårdsvej are vacant and can be rented at a competitive price". The relation between the institution and its design and architecture is non-existent. A new library is at present being built on an adjacent site as compensation for the placing of Ungdomshuset [The Youth House] on Dortheavej.