A Night on the Town

Marcio Kogan's thoughts from Royal_Room 606

October 2015
It’s Thursday in Copenhagen, the middle of the night, 01:27 according to the red clock at the old train station. It’s windy and rainy outside. The temperature is hovering at around 7ºC degrees, and it’s summer. The same temperature as on one of our coldest days in São Paulo. My friends at DAMN° asked me to write a text about São Paulo. I must finish it tonight. I am at the SAS Royal Hotel, Arne Jacobsen’s iconic project, absolutely brilliant and extremely disrespected by the current owners. I am jealous of what Jacobsen designed, from the simple little dessertspoon to the architecture of the entire building. Genius!! It is worth remembering that, at the time, the project received really bad criticism, to which Jacobsen responded: “At least it was ranked first in the competition for the ugliest building in Copenhagen.” As I recall, the original cutlery was used by the astronauts on the Discovery spacecraft in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. Not bad. And now comes a dramatic appeal to the people at Radisson: think about restoring the original project, as that would make this the coolest hotel ever! I stop writing, look out the window, and see a beautiful girl (I can’t see her very well from the sixth floor, but I am certain of it) riding her bicycle, wearing black clothes and red sneakers. She rides past a handsome guy on a white bicycle. They do not look at each other, safely continuing on their respective journeys to I-don’t-know-where. I’ve been here for three days already. I came to Copenhagen to give a lecture, which I did last night. Yesterday I visited some residential complexes and a university dormitory. All very good. The people live better than I do. A very pretty girl (another one) offered us a tour. The standard of living here is a dream for Brazilians. Who pays for everything?! The pavements have no holes in them. And as incredible as it might seem, I tripped over nothing and almost fell. I’m not used to this. Maybe my brain intuitively wanted to compensate. In my city, 100% of the pavements were designed to make you stumble. I pass a stand that sells kebabs, and even that is quite tidy. I’ve been commissioned to write about a place that is the opposite of all this, and obviously I just can’t get in the mood to do so. It’s almost two in the morning now, and I am thinking about the Pølsevogn in front of the station. Mmm, that’s the best hotdog I have ever eaten. I had better stop thinking about that now, though. I’m sure there aren’t any places open at this time of night where I could eat something, and the mini-bar certainly doesn’t have anything worthwhile in it. During the lecture today, I showed some horrible urban scenes in São Paulo, explaining their total lack of foundation, but it seemed as if people liked it. A bit of chaos and mess are good for the soul. Later I began a more complex conversation on the subject with various people. São Paulo or Copenhagen? This morning I went to see some of Arne Jacobsen’s works. The Skovshoved Petrol Station of 1936 is very, very nice. Then we went to the Louisiana museum. Seductive, elegant, with lots of natural light, delicate proportions, and a marvellous garden. It looks more like a house than a museum. I don’t think any living architect could design a project like this nowadays. The need to be ‘spectacular’ is too much in the way. I’ll try to get some sleep, and maybe request an extension for writing the text. I really cannot think about São Paulo while sitting in Arne Jacobsen’s 1960 Drop chair in the SAS Royal Hotel, dwelling on that ristet pølse (hotdog) for 39 Danish Krone.