28 January 2015

Lulu - the Cycling Fearbuster

The Lulu interviewedR_4
Last autumn I was contacted by a writer, Lisa Abend from AFAR Magazine, who wanted to interview me in an article about cycling in Copenhagen. That in itself is not unusual. My life is a steady flow of interviews, which is great. Her angle, however, was unique. An American woman in her 40s who was frightened of cycling in the safe, bicycle city that is Copenhagen.

Her perception of cycling is a personal one, with its roots in an episode in her youth. Fair enough. Fear can be powerful and lengthy. She asked me to help her tackle it and get her up to speed in her new, adopted city.

She has penned a great article about it and it is well worth the read. Copenhagen: The Capital of Nordic Bike Cool. It will also be in their print version.

I'll let her do the talking - not least because she is a great writer - but I wanted to add some photo material to the article. I decided upon a three stage rocket for the interview. The middle stage was teaming Lisa up with an expert who could help her calm her fears.

I introduced her to The Lulu.

The Lulu interviewed
Who better than The Lulu to show how simple and easy cycling in Copenhagen can be. Lulu had just turned seven and was more than willing to help out. We started cycling around our neighbourhood, with Lulu in the lead. She was a bit shy at first, reluctant to share her knowledge and experience. After a while I decided that I was a third wheel.

On the grounds of Frederiksberg Hospital I told Lulu to take Lisa on a ride by herself while I waited on a bench. Off they went, riding up and down the streets of the grounds. After a while, I wondered where they had gotten to. Knowing The Lulu, I guessed correctly. A parking lot where she, too, had practiced getting on and off her bike when she was at the beginning of her learning curve.

The Lulu interviewed
I walked over and sure enough, there she was, her bike parked in the middle and Lulu acting as ringmaster as Lisa circled around her. Practicing riding with one hand. Practicing mounting the bicycle. Lulu running the show like an old pro.

The Lulu interviewedAFAR_2 The Lulu interviewed
Read Lisa's article. It's great.
The Lulu interviewed

27 January 2015

Climaphobia & Vaccum-Packed Cities

As I write this I'm in a vacuum-packed tube hurtling through the air high above the Canadian tundra, heading to Edmonton, Alberta to speak at the Winter Cities Shakeup conference. At this point I'm pleased to be vacuum-packed. That a few generations of designers and engineers have perfected the technology to allow me to avoid the -70 C temperature outside this Air Canada Airbus and to sip a coffee while writing this. I remain amazed that this is possible. Like Louis CK says, “You're sitting in a chair in the sky! You're like a Greek myth right now.

It's a unique and original angle for a conference, this Winter Cities Shakeup. Design and urbanism focused on life in winter cities. Loads of events during the three days of the conference. In a couple of weeks I'll be speaking at the Winter Cycling Conference in Leeuwarden, Netherlands. Another great, albeit more specific, angle for a conference.

I started thinking about the Winter Cities Shakeup last year, when they first invited me to speak. What I have been thinking is why conferences like these are even necessary. Where have we ended up in the development of our cities and societies that we find it necessary to discuss and inform about life in cities with extreme (ish) weather conditions. Battling a recent – in the history of cities - development regarding peoples' perception of weather conditions.

The chain of thoughts leading to Edmonton and Leeuwarden started in Bangkok last year, where my team and I were working on a project for a client. The project dictated that we were driven all over the city. Not only on work-related matters but also sightseeing thanks to the fantastic, endless hospitality of our hosts. We also spent a great deal of time outside and taking public transport. I soon noticed a pattern in our hosts' behaviour.

The minivan was airconditioned, as are the trains and every damn building we ventured into. Every time we entered an airconditioned space, our hosts would comment on how great it was to be out of the heat. Fanning themselves and exhaling through pursed lips in relief. Even a 20 metre dash from minivan to building entrance.

It was hot in Bangkok, sure. 30-35 C and muggy. This, however, is not unusual. It's basically been the same weather for the past few... millenia. At the very least. It is in these weather conditions that the ancestors of our friends in the country were born into and lived their lives in. Working, raising families. In the course of a few decades, as airconditioning units became widespread, the heat had become a reluctant antagonist, simply because it was there. People have been conditioned to fear the heat.

An inverted meteological condition affects cities northern cities like Edmonton and Calgary and many others. There, it is the cold – performing its standard seasonal routine – that has become the bogeyman. I grew up in Calgary, so I know well the icy rage of a Prairie winter. From fifth to ninth grade I commuted by myself to the other side of the city to go to a private school. 1.5 hours on a combination of buses and trains connected with walking. Many a winters day did I amuse myself by spitting on the glass of busstops when the temperature was -20 C or colder, watching my saliva freeze solid before it had a chance to ooze down the pane.

These are places where radio stations announce – almost with a sense of pride – how long it will take your exposed skin to freeze at certain temperatures. I never have to wear a ski hat anymore, so often did my ears get frostbitten. These are places where cars have an electrical cord dangling from the hood because people have to plug in their car at night so the motor block doesn't freeze.

At the risk of making myself feel old, I remember how it was growing up in the 70s and 80s in those winters. I remember playing hockey on outdoor rinks at -25 C. Simply because there was nothing else to do and I was an average young man with energy to burn. I walked to high school in highly unsuitable footwear – boat shoes were the thing at the time and socks in boat shoes were a no go. I hated hats and on mornings when I washed my hair and didn't have time to dry it, my hair froze to ice on the 20 minute walk to school. Which I always thought was kind of cool.

Was I a hard young man? No. I was just an average young man in a winter city. I do remember, at about the age of nine or so, discovering that the thermostat in the house went up to 30 C. It baffled me that my dad had it set at 22 C. Why 22 when 30 was possible?! I kept turning it up to 30 until he approached me and gruffly explained the concept of heating bills. I was promptly sent back to the “put a sweater on” culture into which my mother had introduced all of us kids. Maybe my doppelganger in some Thai city at that time was being told “fan yourself if you're too hot”. That 'suck it up, buttercup' school of parenting is something I am pleased I experienced and something that my kids have certainly been introduced to.

Something has changed. In Bangkok. In Calgary. In Edmonton. I laugh when fellow Copenhageners feel they have to buy a fan during heatwaves in the summer where temperatures skyrocket to … oh... about 30 C. But something has changed in Copenhagen, too. All over the world.

I decided to give it a name. Climaphobia. Fear of the weather. Not extreme weather like destructive hurricanes, but just the normal weather.

We have developed into climaphobes. We fear the weather as soon as it ventures out of our comfort zone at either end of the temperature scale. In Denmark, the comfort zone is narrow. After twenty years of living in Copenhagen I have noticed that the perfect temperature for the Danes is 25 C. At 24 they bitch about the lousy summer. At 26 they gasp theatrically for breath. When the temperature stays above 20 C at night, the Danish Meteological Institute declares it a “Tropical Night”. It is rarely accompanied by a happy tone, more of a dire warning.

My Dad is 88 this year. He grew up on a farm in Northern Jutland. He can tell you stories about the legendary winters that were the norm back then. 1940/41? THAT was a winter. He has lived in Calgary since 1953, so the winter temperatures are just a bit chillier than during his childhood. He smiles and almost chuckles when telling me of this or that coldsnap in Calgary. He is almost disappointed when winter days rise above zero – as I write this it is 15 C in Calgary on January 26th.

The shrug his generation reserved for adverse weather rubbed off on my generation but now Climaphobia has struck. Coupled with our sensationalist media culture, a cold winter becomes a Polar Vortex. El Nino and his bride La Nina have produced a cull of unruly children happily named in order to imprint them on an entertainment-hungry society. Nasty hurricanes deserve a name, but generally weather has been celebritized. Previously undramatic weather conditions are elevated to the status of reality show stars. These celebrities are always cast as the bad guy. (Just look at the hysterical reaction to Juno - the storm that "threatened" New York and the East Coast yesterday)

As a film, Climaphobia would be lame. If it was found on Sony's servers by hackers, they would have deleted it instead of distributing it as a torrent. The protagonist would be a regular person living a regular life, perhaps plagued by less than optimal blood circulation so their feet and fingers were often cold. The gallery of antagonists would hardly strike fear into our hearts. Who is the battle against? Henry Heatwave, Roger the Raindrop, Coldsnap Charlie. The hero would arm themselves with battery-operated fans, hair dryers, super umbrellas – depending on which sequel we're watching.

Climaphobia is a thing because we have spent obscene amounts of energy and money desperately trying to engineer the weather out of our lives. Attempting to create a world like this tube I'm sitting in at 10,000 metres above the Prairies.
Calgary is infamous for their Skywalk system. The Plus 15, as it was called when I was young and they started developing it. The skyscrapers in the downtown core are connected by vacuum-packed walkways above the street, allowing you to walk in shirt sleeves from A to B on a complicated and not very direct route. Below, cars roll unencumbered by bothersome pedestrians. Edmonton has a network like this, as well.

Let's face it. The Skywalk concept is a direct product of a car centric society. Keeping people out of the weather was an added bonus to keeping the streets clear for cars. It's a dystopian world. Sit in your warm house, with your car plugged in or standing in a heated garage. There are even remote control devices that start your car from your dining table. Letting it run and get warmed up before you make the 5 metre dash to it. Then you drive in a vaccum-packed bubble to the downtown core, entering a car park, dashing 5 metres to the elevator and into the building, where you spend the rest of your day until to retrace your (very few physical) steps. If Le Corbusier were alive, he wouldn't watch porn. He would google images of the Skywalk to get his kicks. To get YOUR kicks, you have see the satirical film about it, called WayDownTown. A great companion film to Radiant City - another must see mockumentary about sprawl. Both films are by Gary Burns.

The downtown cores in Edmonton and Calgary are, like so many other cities, doughnuts outside of working hours. Devoid of life after the workers head home. These cities effectively amputated their streetlife and replaced it with artificial limbs in the air. Calgary tried to funk it up by making a stretch of 8th Ave car-free back in 1970 and renaming it Stephen Ave. It has never really worked. Parts of it have been handed back to cars and the street is a poor cousin to so many other pedestrianized streets around the world.

The Skywalk system and other concepts like it are simply attempts to put streetlife – and people – on a shelf, out of the way. Like the ridiculous Skycycle idea by English architect Norman Foster. Let's agree from now on that anything with the word Sky in it is probably not conducive to city life.

A conference like Winter Cities Shake-up is the unsuspecting offspring of society's climaphobia. It's goal to get people to enjoy outdoor life – even in the winter. Something homo sapiens have been doing for 200 millenia. I'm looking forward to speaking there, no doubt about it. It's a great idea. I have just tried to identify the societal development leading to it.

Is it enough to merely try and communicate the fact that “Hey! Winter's okay!” and work to inspire citizens to “rediscover outdoor winter pleasures”? Especially when their perception has been warped by a generation of vacuum-packing?

No. It's not enough.

It's design and urbanism that must battle the bad guys. Lurking in the wings of our B-film is the kingpin. Eddie Engineering. Like most nemesises, it's not really his fault. He had a bad childhood, growing up in a neighbourhood built on last-century engineering traditions. The unloved bastard child of Le Corbusier and Robert Moses. In an age where it was thought that engineering alone would save the world. In a region that bought into it. (Just look at that landscape below me now. Prairie terrain carved up by roads as far as the eye can see.)

We are left with one of the greatest challenges facing the modernisation of our cities. Changing the perception of the citizens. Perception of life outside the bubble. Perception of how people can transport themselves around cities.

Telling is less effective than showing. In the information age where we are inundated with things to learn – more things than we can ever hope to understand – telling through communication is losing its effectiveness.

Showing creates a different conversation. Copenhagen's tradition for pilot projects allows for showing. Once something is on the ground and working, people will discuss it on a much more fruitful level. Look at bike share – and the bike share Whine-o-meter. Ask a population if a city should have bike share and the population will say no. Put it in and get it working and they will understand. If they are still opposed, at least their opposition is well thought out (generally).

67% of motorists in Copenhagen want more bicycle infrastructure. Why? Because we've shown them. If a motorist is sitting at a red light with five cars in front of them and 100 cyclists at the red light on the cycle track next to them, they can see it. “If those five schmucks were on bikes, I'd be the first car at the red light...” They get it.

Building bicycle infrastructure for year round use will show people. “Ah... I get it...” Narrowing car lanes to create space for cycle tracks or public transport... “Ah... I get it...” And so on.

Designing facilities that are proven to work and slapping them into place. It's really the only way forward. Be it pilot projects or permanent solutions.

If communication is to be used, it shouldn't be in the form of campaigns to “ride a bike!” or “save the planet!” Environmentalism is the greatest marketing flop in the history of homo sapiens and most bicycle advocacy – as well as a lot of advocacy for liveable cities - is based on the same haughty tone and communication techniques.

The same show starts every autumn on the social media. Strange conversations begin about “how to ride during the winter”. Overcomplicated articles appear, like this one, written by avid cyclists who mean well but who do little to inspire the 99%. Every autumn I link to photos of people cycling in the winter in Copenhagen. This year I just made a new blog, based on a hashtag I thought up last year. Copenhagen Viking Biking. Daily flashcard inspiration.

“People won't do THAT...”

Uh. Yes they will. They're doing it right now. Humans will always use the quickest way from A to B. Understanding this urban anthropology is important. Fundemental. Effective.

Design for a life-sized city first, communicate effectively second. Show and tell. Battle Climaphobia and vacuum-packed cities.

16 January 2015

Is Copenhagen Finally up To Speed on 30km/h Zones?

If Copenhagen was Paris or Barcelona, they would be doing this. Based on population density, this is where 30 km/h should be standard.

Yeah, so I woke up to some promising news this morning here in Copenhagen. For all the modern liveable city goodness in the Danish capital, we are in the Bronze Age regarding speed limits in cities.

It's been lonely being one of the only people broadcasting the need for 30 km/h zones in Danish cities. Discovering that modernisation may be on the way is fantastic. The first 30 km/h zone was implemented in 1983 in Buxtehude, Germany. Over 150 cities in Europe have made 30 km/h the default speed in urban areas.

It is shocking that most of densely-populated Copenhagen isn't already a 30 km/h zone.

Buxtehude, Germany. 1983.

In Denmark, the Ministry of Justice published a document back in 1985 with the sexy name Justitsministeriets cirkulære nr. 72 af 5. juli 1985 making it possible for municipalities to adjust local speed limits. If "speed is a major cause of accident or risk on the stretch in question".

While that sounds like a good thing, they stated that it had to be proven that a reduction in speed would make dangerous stretches safer. Proving it has been a difficult task and the proof had to be in the form of complicated mathematical calculations. Weird to require calculations in order to save human lives, reduce injuries and make cities nicer. The next challenge was convincing the police to allow it. As we've written about before, the Danish police have bizarre powers and veto rights regarding traffic and they are not obliged to provide proof to support their veto.

The police in Copenhagen wouldn't even agree to 40 km/h zones, let alone the European Union standard of 30.

Today, however, the Ministry of Justice has announced that they are working on making it easier for municipalities to reduce speed limits. Let's hope they don't overcomplicate it and that they complete ignore the police on the subject. Until it's time to enforce the new speed limits. THEN they can move in and do their job.

We have written at length about 30 km/h zones here on the blog and we started a little Facebook group called 30 kbh (kbh is the short form for København - Copenhagen in Danish).

You can read 30 km/h Zones Work.

We also made an analysis of the effectiveness of 30 km/h zones that is freely downloadable and sharable.  But here's the gist of it all:

30 zones reduce injury and death
A study carried out in London concluded that there was a 42% reduction in injuries after the implementation of 30 km/h zones. Younger children were the group with the most significant reduction in KSI’s (Killed & Seriously Injured). A 27% reduction was measured in Barcelona, which led to the city rolling out massive 30 km/h zones across the urban landscape.


The numbers are pretty clear here. If you get hit by a car doing 30 km/h your chance of dying is only 5%. At 50 km/h it is 50%.


As your speed increases in a car, your peripheral vision decreases drastically.

There is no cheaper or more effective way to save lives and reduce injury in cities. Period.

30 zones improve congestion
With slower speeds, the amount of stop-starts is reduced – if not eliminated – which improves flow and helps easy congestion.


30 zones are inexpensive
Changing speed limit signs is inexpensive while building out sidewalks and narrowing lane widths is more expensive. Nevertheless, it is cost efficient. In Switzerland, the annual savings on health costs due to 30 zones is €120 - €130 million.

30 zones reduce noise pollution
By reducing the speed by 10 km/h, a noise reduction of 2-3 dB is achieved. That is far cheaper than noise reducing asphalt. Read more in the article Noisy Danish Speed Demons.
Also, the noise of five cars at 50 km/h is the same as ten cars at 30 km/h. The noise of one large truck equals as much noise as 15 cars.

30 zones improve air quality
In an overall analysis of pollutants, 30 km/h zones reduce CO2 emissions by 15%, NOX emissions by 40% and CO emissions by 45%. Only hydrocarbons will increase, by 4%.

30 zones improve fuel efficiency
Since they improve flow, motorists will save on fuel and reduce C02 emissions.

30 zones improve local business
The traffic calming effect that 30 km/h zones have on neighbourhoods is remarkable. Pedestrians and cyclists increase and, since pedestrians and cyclists spend more money in shops, local business benefits. A study in the UK showed that people who walked to town centres spent an average of £91 (around €115) per week, while motorists would spent £64 (around €80) per week. Cyclists, too, are proven to spend more money in shops than motorists.


07 January 2015

The Urban Archipelago - Reclaiming Space and Revitalising the Harbour

Upside Down Harbour
Living in Copenhagen, you're never far from the harbour or the sea. We're blessed with access to water and to fabulous beaches. Nevertheless, we feel that the harbour is currently underused. The ancient harbour of the Danish capital was decommercialised around 17 years ago and most shipping activity was moved to harbours to the north of the city, leaving a fantastic swath of urban space for the citizens. Freeing up the harbourfront led to an ongoing urban renewal, with 42 km of harbourfront to be developed.

Nevertheless, I've watched the development and wondered why the actual water seems so underused through the years. It seems to be accelerating a bit over the past two years or so, but given the fact that this is a rowing and sailing nation, I would love to see more opportunities for the citizens to use the water.

Leap Harbour Rain
There are harbour baths in place now and the number of pleasure craft is rising. The Kalvebod Wave made a serious impact on harbourfront usage despite the City missing the mark regarding transport connections.. All great. It's brilliant that the water is now clean enough to swim in and that people do it at every opportunity - even at four in the morning.

Nevertheless, there is still room for improvement. There is a lack of sanctioned areas for bathing in the harbour (Copenhageners generally don't worry about those rules) and there is opportunity for creating viable and lively urban space with direct access to the water.



Enter Steve C. Montebello - designer and architect here at Copenhagenize Design Company. Hailing from Malta, Steve understands the need for access to the sea for citizens of a city. He developed The Urban Archipelago for his design project for the final year of his B.Sc. in The Built Environment. With our offices located on Paper Island, on the harbour in the heart of Copenhagen, we instantly saw how this brilliant idea could be applied virtually right outside our door, let alone at numerous locations along the harbour and elsewhere in Denmark.

Two factors inspired Steve to create the modular Urban Archipelago. One was the brilliant Sugata Mitra, who has brilliant TED talks about children and education. His Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) concept got Steve thinking. The other factor was the eternal battle for urban space for the citizens.

Steve's idea, like all good ideas, is simple. Creating an off-shore activity area that provides access to the water - including jumping in from various heights YAY! - and that shields the users from any boat traffic that may be chugging past. Hang out, eat lunch, make out, doze, swim, play. Whatever you need to do, The Urban Archipelago system will help you out. It's the perfect addition to any Life-Sized City.



Of course, we did a rendering of what it would look like right outside our offices on Paper Island/Papirøen. Bring on the summer.


The modular unit can be tesselated, allowing for a large variety of arrangement possibilities. The layout of the individual is organic and changeable and can be adapated to user needs, user volume and specific location requirements.



The main intentions of Steve's design were to create floating modular units consisting of a square base which could be tessellated. These modular units will increase public space at the location they are anchored. Steve has even factored in free wifi. Nice.


The modular elements are connected by ropes and pre-existing pontoon elements. A separate module can be anchored off to the side, covered with solar panels that could power the wifi and any other electricity needs.



The modular units are constructed in a workshop. They will then be assembled as prefabricated elements on site, in whatever size and form is desired or required.

It's a brilliant, simple and effective idea. It also makes us miss summer badly. We decided at Copenhagenize Design Company to build more stuff in 2015. Maybe we should get started on this.







Desire Line Analysis in Copenhagen's City Centre




Continuing in our series of Desire Line Analyses, we decided to cast our critical and curious eyes on yet another Copenhagen intersection, this time where Bremerholm meets Holmens Kanal.

We decided to be more specific and focus on one part of the intersection - a location that we know well and one with a specific congestion problem in rush hour. We filmed for one hour from 08:15-09:15.

Behaviour vs Design

With the massive numbers of bicycle users in the mornings in Copenhagen, bottlenecks occur at a number of locations, particularly where many bicycle users need to turn left. This is something that all of us at the company experience each morning so we decided to study it.

It was a November morning and it was party-cloudly, dry and 6 degrees C. The focus was to determine how bicycle users react to the sub-standard design of this location. How they react to having to battle with motorised traffic - something that is unusual in the city. Yep, even in Copenhagen, The Arrogance of Space is present at times.

With this study we look at how bicycle users react to the design of infrastructure at one specific location, their behaviour and adherance to traffic laws and how they interact with other traffic users, in particular cars. All in one tight, congested location.

As always, we apply Direct Observation and Revealed Preferences, as opposed to Declared Preferences in order to explore how to improve conditions for bicycle users in the interest of improving flow, capacity and safety.

For more Desire Line Analyses, see: copenhagenize.eu/projects.html#desire

Here is the map of the intersection in question.

You can check out the full report here.

This short analysis revealed quite a lot of interesting revelations in the behaviour of the bicycle users. We have established that Copenhagen has the world's best behaved bicycle users. We wondered if that track record would stand the test at an intersection that is far below the Copenhagen par in its design.


71% of all traffic in the observation period were bicycle users.

86% of all left-turning bicycle users observed performed the textbook Copenhagen Left. The majority of those who didn't were reacting to the congestion.

1:3 - For every vehicle there were three bicycle users. Imagine if they were all in cars. This might jog your memory.

1560 - This Desire Line analysis mapped the Desire Lines of 1560 cyclists on their way to work or education during morning rush hour at the Bremerholm - Holmens Kanal intersection.

Bremerholm - Holmens Kanal intersection: 1560 Cyclists (from 8:15am to 9:15)



During the morning rush hour, the intersection is characterised by congestion at the corner with bicycle users waiting for the green light. The traffic law dictates that the Copenhagen Left - or the box turn - is required. Bicycle users are not, however, required to wait for the light to turn green. They can cross if there is no traffic.

Two main behavioural patterns were observed. The first where bicycle users are turning left in great numbers and also how bicycle users coming down Bremerholm interact with motor vehicles upon reaching the light.  These two scenarios interacted with each other, and should not be considered to be mutually exclusive events.

Detailed Observations of cyclists waiting at Bremerholm


Here we see how bicycles and vehicles interact inside the same space. At this location, the bike lane ends before the intersection and bicycle users share the space with right-turning cars. This design was standard for a few years, but now pulling back the stop line for cars at intersections is the new design approach. The general rule of thumb is that whoever gets to the intersection first - be it a car or a bicycle user - can decide to hug the curb. Cars invariably hugged the curb, leaving - at this location - no space for bikes. Because of their expectations due to the uniformity of design elsewhere in the city, bicycle users invariably found a way of getting ahead of the cars at the red light.


Detailed Observations of cyclists waiting at Bremerholm doing the Copenhagen Left



It was interesting to observe how bicycle users waited at the light when turning left. It had little to do with the volume of bicycles but rather the behaviour of those who arrive first on the scene. The following bicycle users invariably followed their lead, either lining up across the intersection or bunching up behind them.

Further Data
Further data and observations were gathered from this Desire Line analysis.The data of each of the different forms of traffic was then broken down (shown below).


The observations of the cyclists.


Vehicular data was broken down.


Along with pedestrian data.


It was interesting to note the flow of traffic per traffic light turn and compare the flow of bicycles to cars. While the flow of vehicles remains rather constant at 9 cars per green light over the morning rush hour, the flow of bicycles varies greatly. This demonstrates that bicycles can get through an intersection quicker than vehicles do.


Copenhagenize Fixes
Finally we offer our recommendations for redesigning the intersection. When the vast majority of the users are on bicycles, democracy would indicate that there are easy redesigns available to prioritize them.


Read the full pdf from the Copenhagenize Design Company website.

05 January 2015

IJ Dock Amsterdam - New Urban Space

Amsterdam IjDock_25
On my recent visit to Amsterdam I decided to try a new hotel. The Room Mate Aitana Hotel located on IJDock, a short walk from Central Station. I'd heard about this newly redesigned quay from a friend and was thrilled to discover that it's open for business. To be frank, it was four days of architecture/urban design porn.

Amsterdam IjDock_5
It's a dead-end island - one road in and out, although with another pedestrian/cyclist bridge for easier access - so it's not like they're fighting traffic. Nevertheless, looking down from my hotel room, it's clear that cars are told how much space they can use. No arrogance of space here. The allocated spots are outside the hotel entrance, for taxis and pickup/drop off. There is also an underground car parking garage on the island.

Amsterdam IjDock_29 Amsterdam IjDock_28
There is underground bike parking to be had as well. Clearly marked with a big pictogram and a lovely pictogram set in stone. I wandered in and it was virtually empty. But bikes were always parked up on the street... near the pictogram. You can see what I mean in the photo at the top of the page.
Amsterdam IjDock_7
I parked on the sidewalk outside the Aitana hotel, where there is a weird abscence of bike racks, even though there were always loads of hotel bikes and rental bikes, including my OV Fiets. When you're working on the BiTiBi.eu Bike-Train-Bike project, you ride an OV Fiets bike share bike in Amsterdam. It would be rude not to. Plus it's just a brilliant system.


Here are some photos from inside the Aitana hotel. Loads of design details and goodness. Although I could live without the psychadelic hallways, but hey.

Amsterdam IjDock_23 Amsterdam IjDock_16
Outside the hotel, whichever way I looked at the architecture and design on the island, it looked amazing. In every light and even at night.

Amsterdam IjDock_14 Amsterdam IjDock_10

Amsterdam IjDock_18 Amsterdam IjDock_3
So many details to behold. The view of the river only added to the potpourri of images. A constant flow of ships and barges.

Amsterdam IjDock_2
IJ Dock is mixed use. I could see life in some of the 56 luxury apartments and some shops and cafés were open (grab breakfast at Bagels and Beans instead of the hotel, which is otherwise a fantastic place to stay). It looks like there are still vacant offices in the various buildings, so the place is just heating up with activity. The Palace of Justice is at one end and a police station at the entrance, so this is not the place you'd want to engage in criminal activities.

Amsterdam IjDock_9

The brown space, above, will be transformed to green as a vertical lawn once spring comes. A nice detail.

Bizarrely, it's tricky to find helpful information about the little island, despite the efforts to build such interesting buildings. There is a website, but it's only in Dutch - http://www.ijdock.nl/. Here's the location on Google maps.

Amsterdam IfDock
Nevertheless, IJ Dock is a wild, weird and beautiful place. I've definately found my new home away from home when I'm in Amsterdam. Check it out if you're in town.