earlier apartment blocks by the water

Of course the idea of building large blocks of apartments overlooking a harbour or the sea is not new to this century and nor is the idea of building large expensive apartments to drive economic revival. 

In Stockholm large prestigious apartment blocks dating from 1880 onwards were built along Strandvägen overlooking the harbour in an extensive new area to the east of the historic centre of the city and in the 1930s in Malmö, as the city expanded to the west, large apartment blocks with balconies looking out over the beach were built along Limhamnsvägen as the then new area of Ribersborg was developed.

Strandvägen, Stockholm

Looking south from the new development of the west harbour in Malmö towards the 1930s blocks of Ribersborg

View over the north harbour in Helsinki towards the apartment buildings on Pohjoisranta

In Helsinki, again around 1900, expensive new apartments were built along Pohjoisranta looking east over the north harbour and as the city expanded to the south there were new apartments built along Merikatu looking south across a park to the islands and the open sea.

The situation appears to have been slightly different in Copenhagen where, in the late 19th century, the harbour was dominated by not only commercial docks but by naval dockyards so less land overlooking the sea or the harbour but close to the centre of the city was available ... or at least not available until the late 20th century. In Copenhagen in the late 19th and early 20th centuries the most exclusive new apartment buildings were constructed looking across parks and squares although of course in an earlier period, in the 17th and 18th century, many large houses were built facing onto the broad canals that were then commercial quays so ostensibly a similar idea.

The impetus for these new developments of apartment buildings was clearly the emergence, in the late 19th century, of a large, wealthy, urban middle class - families who not only wanted large, well-lit apartments to rent but wanted to move out of the crowded and tightly-packed buildings in the centre of these cities.

Blidah Park, Hellerup

Bellavista, Charlottenlund

Perhaps the most influential apartment buildings in the Copenhagen region from the early 20th century, in terms of the more recent developments around the harbours in Copenhagen, are Blidah Park, a housing scheme of 1933-34 at Hellerup on the north edge of Copenhagen and that of the contemporary development of Bellavista by Arne Jacobsen slightly further north and overlooking the beach. The clean, uncluttered lines; the large windows; the flat roofs and prominent balconies set a style and the standards for quality of design and building emulated in many of the new apartment blocks being constructed.