May 11, 2018

This past weekend BLOX opened in Copenhagen and it was a real pleasure to be invited for the launch. It is an ambitious building, with a prominent position on the harbour front, and will be the home of Danish design, architecture and urban development. 

I arrived in time to hear acclaimed artist, Olafur Eliasson, discuss his contribution. I met Olafur in 2009, at a Hopenhagen event at the Louisiana Museum. His piece then, a car made of ice that melted if a lot of people (and their heat) shared its space, had similarities with this current installation, blank screens that depend on visitors to pass in front of lights, populating the screens and creating the work. He explained it simply, ‘You have to trust that people will show up’. I loved listening to his thoughts; he scoffed at celebrating planting 2000 trees when we need to plant billions, lamented the McKinseyfication of civic society and pleaded that we nurture our ownership of the commons. What we don’t collectively value we will surely lose. We have to show up. Love it.

Olafur Eliasson - Blank Screens

Then came a panel hosted by my new friend, Mette Laursen - fantastic human, master net-worker and global ambassador of BLOX. It began with Philippe Benjamin Skow on the violin. I can’t describe something that awesome. Then we heard from Bruce Katz, about how we need to accelerate the flow of solutions in a global urban exchange. IBM Watson’s, Helle Valentin spoke of their AI charter, and how transparency might be the new security. Dr. Joseph Allen drew our attention to the public health issues associated with the environment where we spend 90% of our time - the buildings we live and work in. And finally Indy Johar, who I met in London just weeks ago. Indy’s comments focused the mind, a positive cohesive future depends on unlocking the full capacity of all human beings. We all need to release our full embodied potential and humanity in order to have a positive, sustainable future.

I loved the way this panel worked, with questions and replies from pre-engaged members of the audience. Point and counterpoint, ideas and leaps.  An amazing multi-storey party ensued, and unfortunately an early departure for me, back to London.  

What makes this space so interesting is what it has been designed to achieve. I hope that I have this right, but what I experienced was a place for dialogue. The open fluid spaces and creative and cultural inhabitants - like The Danish Design Centre, the BloxHub co-working space, the terraces, indoor amphitheatre and installation rooms - invite and will foster idea sharing and collaboration. The light and intention of the building made me believe that it will succeed. It is a wonderful place to debate and plan how to make the world better for everyone.

BLOX Building - Copenhagen - Denmark

Looking forward to returning to such a joyful, inspiring place.

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