Kate and CPH
Greetings from Copenhagen! After presenting my M.Arch thesis this past December, I packed up my life in Seattle into a 10″x10″ storage unit and traveled 5,000 miles to Copenhagen, Denmark, where I have been working as an intern at Henning Larsen Architects (HLA) thanks in large part to a very generous grant from the Scan|Design Foundation as part of their six-month long “Intern Exchange Program.” Beginning three years ago with an internship at BIG Architects, the Intern Exchange offers students “the chance to gain valuable professional experience by working in the offices of exemplary Copenhagen-based architecture firms.” Currently I am joined by two other UW M.Arch students as part the Intern Exchange, Sarah Eddy and Andrew Thies, who are both working at Dorte Mandrup Arkitekter (which coincidentally happens to be located just a few blocks from HLA”s office).
Since beginning work at HLA in January, I have gained a whole new insight into the professional and international architecture world given the firm”s size and number of projects in the works in its multiple offices. Founded in Copenhagen by Henning Larsen over fifty years ago, HLA has grown to employ over 200 architects, designers, builders and engineers with offices in Copenhagen, Riyad, Munich, Oslo and Istanbul. The firm currently has projects in over twenty countries and most recently became a finalist for the Mies van der Rohe Award for their Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik, Iceland (the facade was a joint collaboration with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliaason). Of the five offices, not surprisingly the Copenhagen office is the largest. Located right on Vesterbrogade in the heart of Vesterbro, the office takes up the top three floors above a local grocery store. The bottom floor is home to the competitions department (competitions are how the firm gets a majority of its work), the sustainability department and the model shop, while the floor above is occupied by architects working on projects currently under construction. The very top floor (which has stunning views of the city) is the “canteen” where the office eats lunch together daily at noon sharp (lunch is free for interns, a bonus!), as well as enjoys a cold Calrsberg at Friday Bar once a week. Overall the office has a great collaborative energy and sometimes it feels a lot like studio at UW.
Over the past four months I have worked on nearly a dozen projects, ranging in length from a couple of days to over a month. The projects I”ve been part of have been either competitions or pitches to acquire new work, ranging in scale from smaller architectural projects in Nigeria and Qatar, to most recently working on a larger scale urban planning “vision” in Gothenburg, Sweden, along with SLA landscape architects. While most often working in front of the computer in the likes of Rhino or Photoshop, I interestingly enough started my internship doing hand drawings, well sort of. On my first day of work I came into the office and a few hours later was sent to the Danish Architecture Center (DAC) to help draw a giant map of Copenhagen … by hand! The marker-drawn, fourteen-foot high map turned out to be part of an two-month long exhibit at the DAC called “In Dialogue with the World,” in which HLA participated along with two other Danish firms. Even if it only lasted a week, I was pretty excited that I had just left my exhibits gig at UW only to fall into nbso online casino reviews one right away at HLA. My overall experience at HLA has been great thus far thanks in large part to the people I work with, from whom I have learned a lot – a mix of more senior Danish architects and other interns like myself from other programs from around the world, including Iceland, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Lithuania, Ireland and of course, Denmark.
Of course one of the best parts of this “Intern Exchange” is simply being in wonderful Copenhagen and living through all the seasons! This internship marks my third – and longest – venture to this beautiful, Danish city. I was first here in the summer of 2010 as part of Peter Cohan and Jennifer Dee”s “Architecture in Scandinavia” program, and then returned the following summer to work as an intern at Lungaard & Tranberg after having had a spring studio co-taught by Lene Tranberg at UW. Given my past Danish adventures, I knew the city pretty well upon arriving, but honestly nothing competes with truly living and working in a place for this length of time to really to make it feel like “home.” Unlike my past visits, this time I got to experience (and survived) a true Danish winter, and as short and dark as the days were in the beginning, Copenhagen was truly a winter wonderland. Luckily, the snow has finally melted, spring has (slowly) arrived, and all of a sudden the city is filled with Danes soaking up the sunshine on the streets, along the canals and in the parks. The city feels more alive than ever and I can’t get enough!
Over these past four months during my free time I have explored in the city along with my new best friend, my bicycle, and tried my best to see everything Copenhagen has to offer (on a budget, of course). I have been to almost every city museum twice, ventured out to the Arken and the Louisiana (the current Tara Donovan exhibit is incredible), strolled through parks and cemeteries at sunset, visited the sea baths at the beach rain or shine (or snow), gone to the occasional flea market in search of Danish kitsch (and succeeded), had the token tourist beer at the Carlsberg factory, and of course have visited many architectural gems, new and old, throughout the city. However, this coming weekend I will be seeing some Gaudi instead and am finally leaving Denmark for the likes of Barcelona, Spain, where I will be meeting my mom to travel for the week together!
One of the highlights has been those activities connected to Scan|Design. Since being in Copenhagen I have gotten the chance to reconnect with a handful of former Danish Scan|Design friends who studied in Seattle over the past years, including Anne Bjerre, Andreas Skov Petersen, Marco Berenthz and Gustav Svärdhagen (actually a Swedish Valle scholar). I was lucky enough to be invited by Anne (whom I bonded with during two studios together at UW) to join her and her family at their summer house on the West Coast of Jutland (mainland Denmark, about four hours by train) for the long Easter holiday weekend last month – an incredibly beautiful place it was, we had a very “hyggeligt” (cozy) vacation together! Last weekend Scan|Design organized and treated a group of us to a day trip to visit Denmark”s second largest city, Aarhus. I had dreamed of experiencing Olafur Eliasson”s “Your Rainbow Panorama” in person and finally did – it was fantastic, exceeding all expectations! The adventures will soon continue to Norway – next month Scan|Design is treating us to a weekend trip to Olso. The Scan|Design community and relationships that have developed over the past years between Danes and Americans, in Seattle and Copenhagen, are truly priceless and, as corny as it sounds, I have formed friendships at UW and now HLA thanks to Scan|Design that I know will continue forever!
Danish author Hans Christian Andersen once wrote,“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.” I couldn”t agree more: “To travel is to live,” and that is exactly what Scan|Design and HLA has so generously given me the opportunity to do! As many of you know, I love a good photo – or hundred – and as a result have become a bit of an avid blogger myself. To continue to follow my travels (and Instagram obsession), here”s my personal blog, kateCPH.
Written by Kate Murphy, MArch 2013