In September I had a chance to return to Copenhagen for a week, working every day out on the island of Amager where the Humanities faculties of the University are. Ten years ago I was an exchange student here — Comp Lit and Nordic — and so it was nice to explore what’s changed (in significantly better weather than when I arrived in January 2007!)
The big change is obviously the complete replacement of the “Old KUA” complex, dating from 1972, with a sparkling new set of buildings. This had begun when I was a student, with a (then-new) complement of classrooms arising alongside. This was what we called “New KUA” in 2007:
Now, there’s a new set of buildings, which share the same materials and design language of pale pink stone, metal railings, and blue-green glass. A picture of one of these is up at the top of this post. But what sets the new buildings aside is their interior, not exterior. Unlike the New KUA of ten years ago, this new construction pays a lot of attention to the social aspects of space. The offices, library, classrooms and other functions are grouped around an enormous indoor courtyard, shown in this panorama:
The “curled piece of paper” you may be able to make out in the center of that panorama is a unifying theme — a large rolled artwork with words cut out:
The corresponding parts of this lexical stencil are scattered around the courtyard, in bas-relief from the wall itself.
Having nice weather definitely makes a big difference in how you experience the campus. We ate everyday outside the cafeteria, alongside Emil Holm’s canal that passes by Tietgenkollegiet, the round dormitory to the right:
For fans of 1970s architecture, an artistic collective was invited in to document the state of Old KUA before it was torn down. The resulting exhibition, Permanently Temporary - Copenhagen University Amager — lives both online and, charmingly, in a permanent installation in the courtyard of the (new) New KUA complex itself: