With more than 250,000 people crossing the forecourt daily, Nørreport Station is Denmark’s busiest transport hub. Before the transformation, this was clear from the constant swarm of people navigating their way through stalls, busses, cars and a huge number of chaotically parked bicycles. It was a worn-down urban space characterized as dirty, chaotic, unsafe and noisy.
The brief called for better utilization of the area above ground, making the space transparent and cohesive. One objective was to take the practical requirement for bicycle parking to another level and make Copenhagen the world’s best bicycle city, providing convenient and accessible parking for 2,100 bicycles. Another objective was to enhance the surroundings and to build modern premises to serve increasing numbers of passengers.
The space is bright and transparent and designed using simple materials – white concrete, granite, glass and stainless steel. The urban space is created to provide a place of comfort, convenience, accessibility, clarity and safety. With this in mind, Gottlieb Paludan Architects, COBE and Bartenbach lighting design have created an iconic nerve centre with day-time and night-time identities. Also the lighting concept emphasises the principle of openness and transparency in urban space. When darkness falls, the lighting becomes a feature as well as a means of navigation and the luminous ventilation towers surrounded by benches become a landmark for the station. The white roofs guide passengers to find the stairs into the station, newsagents, travel centre, toilets and bicycle parking. The forecourt’s strongest and warmest lighting is concentrated here, capturing our attention and aiding way-finding.
The luminous ventilation towers, which are constructed in grooved, gently shimmering, curved glass, stretch towards the night sky with their bluish, cool light, identifying the forecourt from afar. The intensity decreases upwards, so the tops of the towers fade against the night sky. In the hectic atmosphere at Nørreport Station, where we all hurry with our eyes on the ground, the towers lift our attention upwards and seem to create a connection to the moonlight pervading the city. The unobtrusive blanket of stars hovering above the expanse of parked bicycles is a visual attraction in the dark. The bicycle racks are fitted with different luminaries dependent on their location. Below the white roofs, every second bollard is fitted with an uplight, lighting up the underside of the roof. In the uncovered ‘bicycle beds’, solar-powered luminaries are fitted at the tops of the bollards, which automatically light up when darkness falls. The recessed ‘bicycle beds’ secure unobstructed views across the area, and the light ‘dots’ from each bollard provide elegant and well-organized bicycle parking in contrast to the old chaotic facilities. The general lighting of the area consists of cable-suspended, typically Copenhagen street luminaires which attract little attention but fill the space with the even lighting characteristic of the capital’s streets. The lighting at Nørreport Station contributes enormously to its identity, partly via the lighting of the roofs, ventilation towers and ‘bicycle beds’ and partly via the red neon sign which has identified the station since the 1930s.
Client: City of Copenhagen & DSB (The Danish Railways)
Architect: Gottlieb Paludan, Denmark; COBE, Denmark
Lighting design: Bartenbach lighting design, Austria
Additional design: Sweco, Denmark
Cost: DKK 80 mio.
Size: 10,000 square metres