PLH has transformed the design of the new Copenhagen Metro ‘Cityringen’ into buildable reality

This Sunday the new metro Cityringen opened. The new line with the name M3 has 17 underground stations connecting central Copenhagen with the neighbourhoods Østerbro, Nørrebro, Vesterbro and Frederiksberg. In the role as architect for the contractor, MT Højgaard PLH Arkitekter has been responsible for the detail design of all 17 stations. By finding specific materials for each station and preparing thousands of drawing in collaboration with MT Højgaard and the subcontractors, PLH has made sure the stations of the new metro line could be realized.

2.700 drawings
It has been an extensive work. All 17 stations are unique. When the workload peaked, PLH had a team of 30 people working full time on the project. The team developed approx. 160 drawings per station – overall, around 2.700 drawings to be used to construct the stations; drawings that are also essential for future maintenance and operations. On top of that comes work with producing sketches, mock-ups, coordination and revisions.

”It has been exciting to be a part of such a huge and significant project, collaborating and coordinating between many different stakeholders,” says Christian Henriksen who was the project leader for PLH’s metro team. At the same time, it is extremely fascinating having contributed to an important new metro line connecting the city and leaving such a permanent impression on the city of Copenhagen. Cityringen will improve everyday life for thousands of Copenhageners and, at the same time, it will influence the way millions of people experience the city.”

No standard solutions
Each of the 17 stations has its own individual expression, adapted to the surroundings. On the new metro line M3 every station has a unique design. This means that PLH has developed individual detailed solutions for all 17 stations. PLH’s tasks have included analysing different materials for architectural finishes such as flooring, ceilings, access stairways and wall surfaces. In addition, signage, safety grids and skylights have been detailed by PLH. A great deal of work has been put into making sure that materials such as granite, windows, nails, screws, gates, brackets, light sources, bricks and different wall cladding all comply with the strict requirements regarding security, operation and maintenance. The final solutions have to be buildable, possible to install, clean, and disassemble for maintenance – and at the same time stay true to the design intentions. As part of the process of choosing materials, PLH has developed a large number of sketches in order to ensure buildability and be able to assess the aesthetic expression of the materials.

”It has been exciting to be a part of such a huge and significant project, collaborating and coordinating between many different stakeholders. At the same time, it is extremely fascinating having contributed to an important new metro line connecting the city and leaving such a permanent impression on the city of Copenhagen. Cityringen will improve everyday life for thousands of Copenhageners and, at the same time, it will influence the way millions of people experience the city.”

- Christian Henriksen, project leader for PLH’s metro team.

Ceilings inspired by origami – the art of paper folding
All stations have special ceilings inspired by the Origami paper folding art. In collaboration with the manufacturer, PLH has developed complex mounting brackets for the Origami ceilings - to ensure optimal fitting and compliance with the strict tolerance requirements. On stations without skylights and natural inflow of daylight, the Origami ceiling creates an illusion of skylights by reflecting indirect artificial lighting. An illusion that simulates a natural inflow of daylight and creates a welcoming atmosphere and a sense of space and air.

The stations must last for many years
The metro stations are exposed to hard wear and thousands of people passing through each day. Therefore, the requirements for operation and maintenance are particularly strict. The conditions in the metro have to be safe, and the materials have to be solid and durable in order not to be destroyed by wear and tear and vandalism. Cladding, surface coverings and other materials are installed in ways that make problem free dismantling possible for when a need for maintenance and cleaning occurs - e.g. after graffiti damages etc. Durable materials with a long life reduce the need for maintenance, which again reduces the nuisance for the users due to shielding and the like. For example, wall coverings with brick are mounted on boards consistent of 5 bricks each making dismantling easier and at the same time keeping the weight of the boards down making them easy to handle.

The initial project of Cityringen was developed by Metroselskabet and designed by COWI/Arup/Systra, JV.