not just timberframe and brick but glass and steel

With justification, Copenhagen is famous for its historic buildings but the city is increasingly a destination for visitors wanting to look at innovative modern buildings of exceptional quality and considerable style. In particular there are four major areas of extensive new development in Copenhagen: one around the harbour to the north of the historic centre with the redevelopment of Nordhavn; a large area to the south on the west side of the inner harbour includes Havneholmen, Telholmskanal and Teglvækshavnen; another distinct area on the east side of the harbour is Islands Brygge and there is a large long development following the route of the metro that runs through DR Byen and on to the Bella Center and Ørestad.

The scale of new construction over the last 15 years is matched only by the expansion in the late 19th century when the old city walls and gates were demolished and there was rapid building of apartments to the west and north of the old city. Between 1870 and 1900 the population of Copenhagen doubled from 181,000 to 360,000 people. 

Obviously, in this recent work a century later, there are new office and commercial buildings and several new shopping centres but again, as in the 1880s and 1890s, it is the figures for new apartments that are amazing. A recent newspaper article indicated that the plan is for 9,000 new apartments around the South Harbour, 10,000 in Ørestad, 7,400 in Eastern Amager, 2,800 in Valby and 3,700 apartments along the Inner Harbour.

Along with this housing there are major public buildings for culture, including a new Opera House, The Playhouse for the Royal Danish Theatre and a major new concert hall. There are new squares, open nature areas, parks, sports facilities and of course, this being Copenhagen, new bridges for cyclists and new cycle routes linking everything together.

Much of the new development is on land that has been reused as commercial docks, heavy industry and even, in the case of the area of Holmen and the new Opera House, land now available where the navy has moved away from the city centre. What is probably more important is that areas of reclaimed and marginal land and what is in many cities functions or facilities that are shunned have been embraced so one of the most exciting and prominent buildings under construction is the massive waste resource centre at Amager that, far from being hidden away, will be 90 metres high and will blow giant smoke rings. It is designed to be a family attraction as Copenhagen’s only “mountain” with a viewing platform, cafe’s, a climbing wall and with ski runs down from the top.

Planners and the port authority in the city are also trying to avoid the major pitfall seen in rapid development in many cities where huge investment in one area means a mass exodus of businesses, up-market stores and more affluent families to the new areas that are more fashionable or more exclusive or simply novel. In Copenhagen there has been a concerted effort to make sure that areas are not abandoned or isolated … for instance with the rebuilding of the Norreport station and with it the revitalisation of that area; the remodelling of Israels Plads; the revitalisation of the Meat Packing District and the chance to remodel the Vestebro area immediately west of the central station following major disruption with construction work for the extension of the metro are all examples of the city trying to ensure that no area is left behind. 

The fine Autumn weather has been a good time for me to explore some of these areas and take photographs. I hope to cover many of these buildings and more in more detail in future posts but the photographs here give just a brief introduction to buildings in the city that have been completed since the turn of the century.



  1. The Blue Planet, Kajakvej, Kastrup, 2013 by 3XN A/S
  2. Toldbodgade 13, 2013 by BBP Architects for Lise Aagaard Copenhagen A/S
  3. Ørestad Care Center on Asger Jorns Allé, 2012 by JJW Arkitekter
  4. 8House, Richard Mortensens Vej, 2010 by BIG
  5. SEB Bank, Kalvebrod Brygge and Bernstorffsgade, 2010 by Lundgaard & Tranberg
  6. Bella Hus apartments on Ørestads Blvd 2007 by Schmidt, Hammer & Lassen
  7. Tietgenkollegiet, Rued Langgaards Vej 10-18, 2006 by Lundgaard & Tranberg
  8. DR Byen, Segment 3 (north of the concert hall) 2006 by Gottlieb Paludan Architects
  9. Copenhagen Marriott Hotel, Kalvebod Brygge 2001 PLH Architects
  10. Danish Design Centre, H C Andersens Boulevard 27, 1999 by Henning Larsens Tegnestue