Tales from an American girl living in Denmark
We did so much today I feel like my head is going to explode. And it was all so good. I’m going to try my best to make sense of and summarize my notes, but I’m pretty sleep-deprived so bear with me.
First stop was the Royal Danish Playhouse. This place is magnificent and it’s clear why its designers, Lundgaard & Transberg won the contest to design the Playhouse.
We had a great tour guide who pointed out a million and one little things I probably wouldn’t have noticed or realized the significance of if not for her explanations. The designers spared no detail and seem to have thought of literally everything. Of the several “wow” features of the place, the things I was most intrigued by were the lighting and the use of space. The foyer outside the theatres is lit by natural light that pours through gigantic windows that make you feel like you’re not indoors at all, and at night hundreds of little LED lights hanging from the high ceilings provide low, dim lighting.
The reason for the dimness is so that unlike big, bright overhead lights, the individual hanging LEDs still allow guests to see out the windows and keep that spacious, unconfined feeling alive. That open space theme is apparent throughout the playhouse – even in the working spaces. There is no segregation of offices or sections. This was done purposely so that people have to pass each other and see what’s going on around them rather than just staying isolated within their own department. I love this “everybody is on the same team” open door concept in Denmark. I think it plays into the whole Tribe thing.
After the Playhouse we headed over to Lundgaard & Transberg to meet with the firm behind the amazing work we just witnessed. During the talk we sat down for I kept noticing how much they really care. And I don’t mean about profit, or business plans and all of that that usually drives huge projects. Their desire to construct places that take people and the environment into consideration is so apparent. And so refreshing. They come off as genuine whereas I get the feeling that a lot of the social and environmental consideration in the U.S. is just a PR tactic to get people to calm down and back off when they notice sketchy practices.
Next we went to meet with Christian from UIWe (designer of the rope playground I previously wrote about, female urinals, etc.) and it was… interesting. I don’t know how anybody has that much energy late on a cloudy afternoon. Some of us were looking for signs of cocaine, but Danes aren’t really big on drugs from what I’ve gathered. He was that hyper, though, no exaggeration. He was a fun speaker to listen to because he was so funny. For example, when we were telling him how the rope playground would never work in the US because people would get hurt and sue, he said something like “Here people know ‘if i’m hanging from a rope and fall onto concrete it’s going to hurt'” Yes. Well. In the US we seem to be lacking in common sense.
I noticed UIWe is way less structured than the other places we’ve visited. They seem to have a “just give it a try, maybe it’ll work” type approach. So that’s what we did – we headed out into the town to see the female urinals in action at Distortion. Later that night when I went out with some of the girls from my class I tried them myself. It wasn’t life changing, but it was convenient. The urinals were popular… even with the guys. Anne Marie tried to remind a few of them they were FEMALE urinals, but to no avail.
Such a good day.
Here are a few pictures of the beginning of the Distortion street parties: