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.


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

new apartments along the harbour and by the sea

The view south from Langebro


Through much of its history the inner harbour in Copenhagen was a working port and naval dockyard. There were some houses on Gammel Strand, the houses of merchants, and houses along Nyhavn and facing onto the canals in Christianshavn but until the beginning of this century most of the buildings directly on the quayside of the inner harbour itself were warehouses, customs buildings, factories and the yards and buildings for the navy along with some major ship-building yards. 

Buildings from the late 19th century on Havngade along the quay to the south of Nyhavn

The first major purpose-built apartment buildings that overlooked the inner harbour itself were built in the late 19th century along what is now Havngade between the canal and Nyhavn when this land, a large triangle south of Kongens Nytorv, was made available with the move of the naval dockyards from here to Holmen on the other side of the harbour. 

Around 1900 substantial blocks of apartments for workers were constructed on the Amager side of the harbour below Stadsgraven and the western-most of these overlooked the harbour and some modern blocks were constructed along the harbour side of Christianshavn.

The real change however began in the late 20th century as ship building and many of the facilities for the navy and factories and commercial warehouses in the inner harbour were rationalised, closed down or relocated. Substantial historic warehouses have been converted to apartments and new apartment buildings constructed particularly to the south on either side of the harbour and also north on the quays of the Old Free Port, north of Kastellet. Further north work is ongoing to transform the area of the North Harbour and, beyond that, there are new apartment buildings around the site and wharves of the site of the Tuborg brewery.

Most of these new apartments overlook former harbour basins or are actually built on former harbour quays. As yet there are few new apartment buildings overlooking the Øresund itself although there are some new buildings close to the metro stations at Øresund and Amager Strand.  

Overall, this may not sound like substantial development until you look at the map and calculate some distances. If you take the inner harbour to be from Nordre Tolbod to the southern bridge Langebro that is nearly 2½ kilometres (1.5 miles) but from the bridge on south down the harbour to the new development of apartments at Sluseholmen is over 3 kilometres (2 miles) with major developments of apartment buildings on both sides and from Tolbod north to the quayside at the former Tuborg site is well over 4 kilometres (nearly 3 miles) and that basic distance doesn't show just how much land is being reclaimed at Nordhavn - the North Harbour - for new apartment buildings.