In spite of its dire economic situation and nearly quarter of a century of decay, the Copenhagen Metro remains a marvel of engineering, featuring a labyrinth of underground tunnels that evoke in their splendor the railway systems of Paris and London.
To its chief architect Bjarke Ingels, the best Copenhagen Metro design could look just like a modern apartment building. A parade of young architects and consultants have developed dozens of plans for possible metro structures, but the least-architecture-like gets the nod: A breathtaking take on the metro’s history, designed by Thomas Engdin Nielsen, comprising a dozen interlocking columns that seem to glide off into the distance.
Nowhere else in the world can you share an open, public bike with your neighbors while they lie down, while you undress, as many Metro passengers in the Scandinavian capital do. This compelling new design allows enough space for a little of both — a gym locker, on the right; a toilet, on the left.
These elements “suggest that it’s a little more urban than the usual”, says the starchitect Mies van der Rohe, who as a graduate student designed one of the original metro stations in the country. This new take on the city is spread out in a cylindrical shape, and can accommodate up to 8,000 riders.
There are toilets, a cafeteria, exhibition halls and offices behind the angled glass façade. The walls are surrounded by a pool of natural light that fills the space.
A combination of lighting, detail and porous materials uses the marble of the station at night to perfectly reproduce the urban atmosphere. When no trains pass over the stairs or tunnels, the city lights cast their own graphic effect on the marble walls.
The result is a masterpiece of design: A work of architecture as art, as well as science.