COWI protects ancient buildings in Odense

Odense, Denmark’s third-largest city, was officially founded in the year 988 but its history goes even further back, another 3,000 years or so. The vibrant city centre is lending its uniquely quaint character from a number of historic buildings and the many friendly Danes cruising the streets on their bicycles. The fact that the famous storyteller H C Andersen was born and spent his childhood in this fairytale town seems absolutely right.

Until recently, however, a major thoroughfare, effectively cutting the city centre in two, spoiled this idyllic environment. Therefore, the local government initiated a major city renovation project, recreating one cozy centre and leading the bulk of traffic into a new ring road. Another important part of the town centre renewal is the establishing of a new light rail line – one of Denmark’s first.

Minimizing risk of vibration damages  

In conjunction with the project, a partnership was formed between the City of Odense and the Realdania investment fund. To minimize the risk for vibration damages as well as disturbance to everyday life COWI, a leading international consultancy firm, was engaged as their consultant. Ken Grønne Andersen, a seasoned COWI engineer, is deeply engaged in the historic and environmental aspects of the project:

“One of our key contributions to this project is the continuous monitoring and immediate reporting of any vibrations that might otherwise damage the ancient buildings, like the 500-year-old priory, a preserved ruin from 1420 and the Saint Albani church. This is an undertaking that requires some rather special skills, because many of these buildings are very close to the construction sites. At the same time, we are assigned to monitor and report any noise that exceeds the maximum levels set by the city management.”

Integrated monitoring system

COWI was assigned to continuously monitor vibrations and noise at all critical points, earlier in the northern section, and now expanding into the southern parts. COWI uses a combination of all-digital vibration sensors, geophones and microphones integrated in one multifunctional INFRA Net system. Says Ken Grønne Andersen:

“Information from 21 simultaneous measuring points is continually fed into the system, and the construction teams are immediately alerted if they exceed the set limits. The configuration of the measurement equipment is flexible and adapts to the ongoing construction activities. The system uses the data to generate daily and more comprehensive monthly reports. This will continue throughout the reconstruction project, which means towards the end of 2017.”

Based in Lyngby, COWI is a Danish company with more than 6,400 employees worldwide. This includes complete engineering teams and all specialists required to manage major city reconstruction projects. This includes, for example, highly qualified biologists, geologists, economists, surveyors, architects, anthropologists and sociologists.

The company is specializing in engineering, environmental and economic consulting. To date, the company has been involved in more than 50,000 projects in some 175 countries around the world.