So what does make a place….

After Deb Tate’s piece yesterday I have been thinking about Place – and wondering what actually defines a place. Perhaps more importantly what is a great place I have been to?

You might recall I am a member of The Academy of Urbansim – and they have set out five themes which define a place.

1. Making people feel at home. Attracting people and keeping them is critical.
2. Paying attention to quality of life. Making the connection between a good place to live and visit. But focusing on those who live there first.
3. Good food. Providing good food outlets is important (We noted this on our USA tour when working with the Sheriff’s Commission in 2009).
4. Art & Culture. Art can present an up-market image.
5. The Environment. We need to take care of our environment both at conservation level, but also in providing new buildings.

Malmo in Sweden is always held out as being a great ‘place’ In particular the Western Harbour – where Calatrava’s Turning Torso building lives gets special mention. I have been a couple of times – I love the place. It does epitomise the themes set out.

The really interesting thing about the Western Harbour is that it was a broken community – an abandoned shipyard. It now has some amazing housing, work places and shops / restaurants. It has a quality to it that doesn’t smack of money but rather of good design.

We need to learn from the lessons of places like Malmo – and create our own great places. Nottingham has some of the buts that can help, but that elusive glue (The Higgs Boson part) still isn’t here! But they’ve found Higgs so it can’t be rocket science for us to get the recipe sorted?

Copenhagen – part 2

As anticipated we went to Malmo in Sweden yesterday. Malmo is a 35 minute train journey from Copenhagen – you venture across the Oresund Bridge (which is like the baby version of the bridge linging Shanghai to Ningbo I went on last year).

The Turning Torso - Malmo

I especially like the Vastra Hamnen district – the harbour area. This is where you can see, actually you can’t miss, Santiago Calatrava‘s “Turning Torso” building. It stands out from miles around and is the centre-piece of this area of urban renewal. The whole place has fantastic public open spaces – water features run through the houses and shops.

What I noticed most was the massive development taking place – tower cranes and new roads are plentiful. It has really changed a lot since I was there 3 years ago. It is good to see – and the oprices of some of the hosuing stock was not as expensive as I imagined. A floating hosue boat (that description doesn’t do it justice) was £360,000?

We found an excellent coffee shop on the southern tip of the area – Espresso House – cappucino and cup cakes went down well.

The town is also really nice – an ecelctic mix of old and new – some buildings dating back to the 1500′s, other modern glass efforts. Public squares feauture too – the Eurpoeans do squares much better than us?

And that was it – we headed back across the water to Copenhagen – and an evening around the Tivoli Gardens. We started with dinner at that quintisentially Danish restaurant – The Hard Rock Cafe. We can’t be accused of not being immersed in the local culture? It took so long we ran out of time to look around Tivoli – we are hoping to go back…

Since Tivoli was a place we considered on our Sheriff of Nottingham tour a few years ago, I think we need to see it.

But, today was really about Malmo. I love the place. The Harbour area is, in my opinion, how buildings should sit in their environment. 10/10 Malmo.

Blogging from Copenhagen

It’s one of our friends 50th Birthday – he wants to keep it quiet, so we are heading out of the Country today to Copenhagen. My blog should add to the anonimity?

Bill Ebbesen's view of Copenhagen at night

I have (sort of) been to Copenhagen before. I have been to the airport – en-route to Malmo in Sweden. But this time we are going proper. The 50th Birthday boy gets to choose the location and this is it.

So my next few days will be based here in Denmark – in a city of over 1 million folks. I have checked on Wikipedia and it seems that we are in the 10th most expensive City in the world. A coke can’t be more than I paid in Paris last year – £6… or can it?

Alan Price was born half a century ago. He has worn pretty well. After a life-time at Siemens he ‘found’ gymnastics – coaching not doing! We met him at Nottingham Hospitals Radio back in 1979 – we all joined at the same time. That seems like a lifetime ago! The gang of us who all met at NHR are here in Denmark  - 8 of us have remained really close friends ever since. Even our various kids (8 of them) all get along – they have grown up together.

So the weekend begins here – I’m not sure what is on the agenda. The Tivoli Gardens was something mentioned when I was looking at World Class Attractions with the Sheriff of Nottingham. But I also fancy going back to Malmo – to see the Harbour and Calatrava’s Turning Torso building…one of my favourites.

I’ll keep you posted – assuming I can get some wi-fi in the foreign land? And assuming that there is not strike at the airport? There had better not be…

PS – in case you were wondering – I am not even close to being 50!