Danish architectural firm COBE recently completed a one-of-a-kind public space in Copenhagen that not only serves as a multifunctional meeting place, but also provides covered parking for over 2,000 bicycles. Inaugurated in late August, Karen Blixens Plads is one of the largest public spaces in Copenhagen and measures over 20,000 square meters in size. The elevated undulating terrain helps break the large space down into small zones for activities and helps channel and slow rainwater to improve the area’s stormwater management.

Continue reading below
Our Featured Videos

Located between the University of Copenhagen and the Danish Royal Library’s buildings at the university’s South Campus, Karen Blixens Plads is a multifunctional urban space that serves as a public square and a university plaza. Working in collaboration with CN3 and EKJ, COBE used 3D modeling to design the three “bicycle hills” constructed as cast concrete shells clad with hand-laid tiles in colors referencing the exteriors of nearby university buildings. Large openings punctuate the undulating load-bearing structure to create an airy, light-filled space underneath.

In addition to bicycle parking, the new public square includes an outdoor auditorium with seating for up to 1,000 people. Simple and durable materials were used to minimize maintenance, while lighting and furnishings were kept to a minimum.

Related: A striking new gateway to Copenhagen celebrates green transit and Danish design

“All in all, we have created a unique space based on three main principles: improving the connection between landscape and urban space, integrating optimal green spaces with a large capacity for bicycle parking and creating a space that offers good social meeting places and learning environments,” says COBE’s founder, Dan Stubbergaard. “The almost cathedral-like form of the bicycle hills further offers an aesthetic experience in its own right, both when people park their bikes and when they meet at the hills for lectures, group work, concerts or Friday afternoon socializing.”


Images by Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST