Torvehallerne, Israels Plads Copenhagen

Just a block to the west of Norreport metro and railway station is Israels Plads - a large square in what was a working-class area of Copenhagen - an area that grew rapidly in the 19th century once building immediately outside the defensive walls of the city was allowed. There was a greengrocers’ market here from 1889 but it closed in 1958 when a new vegetable market opened at Valby.

New food halls and an area of open market here at the north end of the square, for bread, coffee, wine, fresh meat, cheese and of course fish, along with stalls for cake and drinks opened almost two year ago in September 2011. 

If you are beginning to think that I am including rather a lot about food in a blog about design then just, for one thing, look at the amazing displays and the importance of packaging and lettering and generally the sense of good design shown here in the market.

For another, isn’t it obvious that well-designed tableware deserves to have good food served with it and good food deserves well designed tableware to show it to its best? 

Actually, to be honest the coffee was great even in paper cups and the cakes tasted pretty good straight out of the paper bag ...   

If after a coffee and cakes you feel you need to do something more intellectual and more virtuous then just off the north side of the square at Rømersgade 22 is the Arbejdermuseet or Workers’ Museum. This is in the former Workers’ Hall with a permanent collection that shows the life of working people from around 1850 until today and there are two or three temporary exhibitions a year. There is also a library and archive for documents and papers about working-class life.

Combined Photo for Workers Museum.jpg

The museum restaurant, down steps on the street frontage and called Café & Ølhalle, is a really amazing place to go for lunch. OK. OK. I know! I’m back to food ... but the restaurant has been restored to its appearance about 1890. Good beer is served here and some pretty amazing aquavit called Arbejder Gylden is distilled exclusively for Café & Ølhalle. I was told that the builders, when they were constructing the apartment blocks in this area, worked a long day and needed a long lunch including substantial food and aquavit to stave off the cold in the Winter. Historic reconstruction seemed like a pretty good excuse to give it a try ... the aquavit I mean ... not climbing scaffold and laying tiles.

To restore a thread of seriousness I would recommend the museum’s web site and a link to a report about the museum that explains its aims and achievements.