Enghave Plads

Vesterbro - the part of the city immediately west of the central railway station - is a densely-occupied area of apartment buildings with most dating from around 1900.

This was a strongly working class part of the city with the main rail line forming the southern boundary and with the meat markets, gas works and the harbour presumably supplying much of the work and the Carlsberg brewery was, until a few years ago, to the west.

The street pattern of the district is complicated with two main roads - Istedgade and Sønder Boulevard - running out at an angle from the railway station at the north-east to the south east but with secondary cross streets of traditional apartment buildings running north to south and there are also several streets running across the area from south east to north west so it a complex pattern of a grid but overlaid with a Saint Andrew cross so some streets meet or cross at odd angles.

At the south end of Istedgade is Enghave Plads - a large open square much wider east to west than the distance across from north to south and it narrows at the centre. This square is where several tram routes met so it was always an important point in the area and immediately to the west is a very large square with a major public garden - Enghave Parken - that has large apartment buildings on the north, west and south sides so the two spaces run together though divided by a busy main road - Enghavevej.

Enghave Plads is the site of one of the major new metro stations on the new circle line that will open at the end of September. The east end of the square and some of the surrounding streets have been boarded off for about a decade with major construction work for the metro but the boarding has just been taken down and the space with it's new landscaping opened officially.

There are large areas for leaving bicycles across the north or darker side of the entrance steps to the metro station but across the south side of the metro entrance there are raised beds with Corten edging and long raised bench seats and then to the west more open space for events. This area has striking new seating that has deep red slats on a black metal frame and these form great bold curves though the initial reaction to the seating has been mixed - some asking exactly why people would want to sit next to each other in long rows even if they are curved. Mature trees to the west, along the main road, have been kept and provide a baffle against the sound of traffic and shade for more seating and an area that is fenced for ball games.

Copenhagen Metro

Vesterbro with the main railway line to the south, the MeatPacking district in the cirve of the railway and the main railway station top right
Enghave Plads just left of centre and Enghave Parken towards the left side

Enghave Plads from the east with the square of Enghave Parken beyond

tram leaving the square and heading along Istedgade towards the railway station … the area between the buildings and the central space has been paved over and the main through traffic has been restricted to the north side of the square

 

green and open space in Vesterbro

Halmtorvet looking west towards Sønder Boulevard with the Meat Market area immediately to the left

In a densely built up residential area like Vesterbro, natural planting of grass and trees is important, not just in larger open spaces for recreation and relaxation but in smaller areas to break up visually the mass of masonry, brick and tarmac.

At the centre of the area is Skydebanehaven, a large rectangular space surrounded by the backs of buildings so that it is more like a large courtyard. It is on the site of what was a private shooting range so presumably it was originally open ground with gravel or grass but now has a large number of mature trees. At the south-west corner it has been opened out to adjoining streets with the demolition of some rows of slum housing but it still seems like a well-kept local secret that is hidden away behind apartment buildings and, from the Istedgade side, is entered through a doorway in a forbidding high blank brick wall that closes off a short street of apartment buildings.

Enghave Park

The other large area of grass and trees is Enghave Park at the far west end of Vesterbro laid out in 1929 specifically as an open area with large apartment buildings of that period on the north, west and south sides.

More recent is Saxopark - a long strip of garden created when slum houses to the west of Skydebanehaven were demolished, courtyards cleared of tightly-packed infill and a line of new apartment buildings were constructed.

Saxopark

Sønder Boulevard

Halmtorvet and Sønder Boulevard, its extension west, which run across the south edge of the area was a major road for traffic in and out of the city. As part of a concerted plan to improve Vesterbro, the far end of the road was closed to traffic and the roads, now restricted to local traffic have been reduced in width and the central area of grass widened for space for seating, picnic tables, sports equipment and new play areas for children. The city end has extensive areas of water with fountains, areas for seating and cobbled and gravelled areas used for flea markets, food fairs and other events. Close to the Meat Market area, also being improved, the remodelling of the street has encouraged new restaurants and cafes to the area and most now move seats and table outside to the pavement. 

Litauens Plads and Knoldens Plads

There are also relatively small squares through Vesterbro with mature trees in front of major churches - including the Eliaskirken facing onto Vesterbrogade, the church at the east end of Litauens Plads, almost in the centre of the area, and Kristkirken on Enghave Plads on the east side of the park.

Towards the west end of the area the cross streets are wider and several are set at an angle so they create triangular areas at the junctions with the main roads which are now also being used for outdoor seating for cafes and for some planting.

Of course, as with other parts of the city, courtyards behind the apartment buildings, provide important enclosed, private areas of garden but in this part of the city the courtyards within the blocks tend to be narrower and smaller although the east courtyard of the Skydebanegade apartments is almost as large as Saxopark and there are some larger courtyards in the blocks along the south edge of the area close to the main railway tracks.

 

For more photographs of the open spaces in Vesterbro see the post on the Copenhagen site