Copenhagen colour at night




Away from the main shopping streets, electric lighting in the city is kept low … that's both the level of light is surprisingly low and, generally, the height of street lights is low … a lot of lights are fixed to buildings at about first-floor level although in some streets some fittings for more general lighting are suspended from wires strung across the street but there are also various forms of low-level lights along footpaths and custom lighting on slopes and steps at ground level so light rakes across the footpath. On some paths and steps, there are even lights along or under handrails.

As the sun gets lower, the sky goes through violet and mauve colours that deepen to navy and then, as artificial lighting takes over, there are washes of colour - the colours of the bricks or the stone or the render - tailing off into shadows that mark or define many facades and for modern, glass-clad buildings, it is often at night that the interior arrangement of offices and staircases and walkways is revealed.

For a city where commerce is so important, there is surprisingly little advertising with neon lighting … so around the town hall square and along the street towards the train station, where it seems appropriate, and otherwise on a few major apartment buildings like those on the Islands Brygge side of Langebro or along the lakes where you can find the famous Irma hen laying eggs. 

Shop fronts are illuminated but signs are often painted and might or might not be spot lit for night time rather than being back lit.

So, for a large and densely-populated city, light pollution is relatively well controlled.

It is still possible to walk around the central harbour and see lights reflect up off the water sparkling with light from cars and from buildings and with the light from boats.

Another interesting Copenhagen experience is to walk through the residential areas and witness the Copenhagen 'no-curtains' habit. Talking to someone working in the design industry but who lived over the bridge in Malmö, she said one guilty pleasure she had was to walk around the city in the evening to look in through windows to see how people in the city live and how they furnish their homes.