“We do not know” was the common answer to the passersby, given by Shjworks while they were installing the project and were asked what it was. And it was true; Shjworks could not exactly tell what it was. They knew the project consisted of five white shining objects placed along a stretch of 400 m in the suburb of Husum just outside Copenhagen. They knew the objects would be illuminated from dusk till dawn, and they knew the height of the objects would vary from 4,2 m to 0,6 m. They also knew the project was the winning entry for a competition about urban spaces, arranged by the Copenhagen municipality. Together with the objects they included 7 benches, 3 planters and 95 step stones.
Shjworks had many intentions and thoughts concerning the project, and they could not give one clear answer, because the project deals with way finding, place making, evocative lights, white sculptures with a smooth shining surface, and urban spaces for recreations.
The stretch, where the objects are placed, is a long and narrow area with the suburban character of being in-between a wasteland and a park. In one end of the stretch is a busy street, where the largest object is placed, and at the other end, where the smallest object is placed, is an old public school which has been transformed into a cultural community centre.
Each object is made of 2-4 mm thick polycarbonate sewn together with 1 mm thick steel wire. And all the objects are asymmetrical and unique in shape and size. The largest object is 4,2 m tall and the smallest one is 0,6 m tall. Inside each object is a lamp, which is connected to the street light and thereby turns on and off at the same time as the street light.
Some of the questions and comments from the passersby were whether the objects were some kind of eggs? Maybe eggs from the future because of their shiny surface? Or that the silhouettes and asymmetrical shapes of the objects evoked associations to stones. Could it be stones placed for rituals, similar to the ancient stone circles? As mentioned in the beginning Shjworks could not tell exactly what is was, but they were very pleased with the attention, questions and comments from all the passersby. They were pleased because this attention and wonder was exactly one of their intensions with the project. Although they were creating an urban project with qualities of way finding, place making, evocative lights and recreational functions, at the same time they were also creating a project that raised questions about the project itself and of the origin of the objects.
Shjworks believes that urban spaces should not only offer functional possibilities but also appearances that raise questions and reflection. “To receive answers is great, but to ask questions is even greater. It raises an awareness and knowledge about ourselves, our next generations, and our environment,” says Simon Hjermind Jensen from Shjworks.