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The Graduation Project, 2020 Spring

Master of Science in Architecture

Delft University of Technology


Studio: Interiors Buildings Cities

The Independent Group

Instructors: Sam Vocht, Mark Pimlott, Daniel Rosbottom, Mauro Parravicini

Celebration as Revolution

The conflict between the regime and workers was triggered by the unemployment during the recession period of 1970s. The disempowered group, mostly the jobless and homeless in the marginalized area, started a widespread of squatting movement of Copenhagen. This allowed them to establish collectives in the occupied houses. Some of the houses became popular alternative music venue or cultural center. Their underground culture was celebrated in the invisible, marginal, forgotten places. Examples can be seen in Freetown Christiania, Folkehus Absalon, Kulturtarnet and Meatpacking district of Copenhagen.


The reused places have been turned to common ground, which is not for the purpose of consuming, but for pure pleasure. It is the place of meeting, a place to be seen and heard. The growing popularity of those activities soon demostrated its power of gathering massive participation.


The most popular street music festival “Distortion – A Revelry of Copenhagen Night-life” was born in such a resistant period against the regime.  An idea of ultra-mobility brought the small, chaotic, not-fully-legal night culture party to the street, and soon won its legitimation from State, settled as the largest annual event in Copenhagen.

“In the moment, people enjoy the authentic and utopian expression of “popular” power; it is immediate, empowering, and disrespectful. It became the second life of the people, who for a time entered into the utopian realm of community, freedom, equality, and abundance.”

 (Mikhail Bakhtin. Rabelais and His World, 1984)


The street event allows everyone to participate; it takes off the social structure and creates a pure transparent, compelling joy, which becomes a bond that bring together all the participants. In the celebrative moments, the subculture group effectively creates public spaces and a political realm to make themselves visible and their voices to be heard.


It is a successive revolution of the workers’ resistance which gains social and political power, a victory over suppressions by the authority for decades, in the form of collective activities. Although the revolutions have long been marginalized within subculture clusters, the trial never ceases to break into city center.

Sunken Island

Copenhagen's first waterworks sits in the center of Copenhagen, close to the city’s most popular amusement park - Tivoli Garden. Despite its central location, the industrial plant remains inaccessible, invisible to the people, hiding behind fence and trees; it becomes a forgotten sunken island.


The waterworks plant was constructed by the fortress canal in 1856, as part of the strategy of sanitation movement after the cholera epidemic. In the following decades, Copenhagen began its modernization with the demolition of the gates and fortress towards north. The development turned the site shortly to a public park in 1910, but soon the landscape around was covered by roads, railways and more building volumes.


The steam powered waterworks was outdated and ceased working since 1949. A rising demand of cultural and leisure facilities in the 1970s brought an attempt to reuse the plant as a cultural center. Nevertheless, the budget only allowed part of the plan to be realized: the pumpehuset was transformed to a music venue in 1987 and rented to a group of volunteers. Another subcultural base was established.   

The rest of the plant remained untouched until 2015, when the municipality decided to accommodate a kindergarten in the waterworks plant. A modernization process was again imposed on this forgotten island: a further demolition on the landscape to make space for cement playgrounds and storage huts for baby strollers; a newly built institution that pushes the outdoor musical space to the edge of the site. The value of the sunken landscape and the identity of industrial monument have been significantly neglected.

Extension of Pumpehuset

In the course of “Celebration as Revolution”, the Waterworks plant is introduced as an industrial monument adapting to cultural space, with its unfulfilled promise from the archeological transition. 


The site is proposed to reopen to public as an urban link of the Distortion street festival, from the south Tivoli garden towards the Axeltorv plazas in the north. The rearrange of siteplan programs concerns the reappropriation of water as a material related to pleasure and cleansing. 

The reappropriation as public bath not only concerns a festive bathing experience during transcultural moments, but also gives attention to the reuse of leftover machine spaces with the solidity and isolative characters for private experience. 

An outdoor pool is carefully placed in between the two existing roofs which protect the bathers from being seen, and at the same time maximize the view of urban surroundings.


To support a pool on the roof with extra weight, a series of steel portal frame structure is inserted in the boiler house envelope. The old roof truss is taken out from the building and placed on the square - a building skeleton of the past. It becomes a pavilion to accommodates street events. 

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