Carries the menace, but carries the city’s vibe

While most new urban infrastructure is slow, loud and menacing, a new underground train station in the Danish capital of Copenhagen might be the most cutting-edge transportation to emerge from a city center in a while. Designed by Finnish architects Alvar Aalto, it’s scheduled to open in 2021.

The futuristic blue and white structure is notable not only for its depth, with 5.4 stories spanning 7,000 meters, but also for its spatial diversity and architectural scale. Open above ground like a grand concert hall with a grey roof, it then transforms into a bustling pedestrian gathering area – complete with tables, benches and grills – atop a frozen lake.

It was designed in a completely LEED platinum rating, according to Bloomberg, and stands out alongside a couple of other new building projects. One of them is a 9.1-million-euro ($10.4 million) office building by Maurits Auderson Architects of Norway, designed to look like a windowless spaceship. Construction began in 2015, but is years behind schedule and is more likely to open in 2022.

The South Royal Avenue satellite park.

All three of these projects seem to be intended as a response to Copenhagen’s rapid urbanization. As cities like Dubai and São Paulo have sprawled out over the past couple of decades, so have an increasing number of urban projects aimed at densifying their centers, and feeding into their land prices.

Some — like Aalto’s Metro and the Auderson Park — blend in with the surrounding neighborhood, rising above it; others, like Dia Center, stand at the edge of the area’s restful surroundings. And some, like the Auderson Park, where views of the city’s dramatic mountain skyline are often breathtaking, were the result of a much more nimble and imaginative urban movement than we’re used to in the West.

South Royal Avenue satellite park.

In Asia, almost every new urban space has to be angled or angled in a particular way to get people to walk — and thus, shop — a certain way. Paris’ Série Bastille is located along a stunning avenue running alongside the city’s Montmartre — a contrast with other buildings in the neighborhood that stand lower on the ground to create sharp-edged blocks of light and air — and quite futuristic in their nooks and crannies. In Beijing, a new gateway to the capital seems to have been designed for people who just want to walk — and who are not worried about traversing strange territory. The airport is curved, textured and bulging: it’s meant to stretch people down the concrete and have them drive out, and jet out, after touching down.

South Royal Avenue satellite park.

Like air traffic control towers, we see so many dramatic, high-tech buildings in cities and suburbs to protect themselves from wind and rain. But the hidden beauty of these structures lies in their inherent ambience. All they need to be good is a proper center, some path, a gathering space, and some benches and tables.

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