select any image to open the photos as a slide show
How do you preserve somewhere like this? Or at least keep some of the buildings and some of the features that make the place so interesting.
How can you keep the colours and textures of somewhere that only looks like this because it was abandoned and for twenty years has - for the most part - been left or had a series of people working out here without the money or the security of tenure to do much beyond patching and repairing.
Of course there have been exceptions … a yacht yard has extensive workshops and the restaurant Amass is well established in a workshop building that was reconfigured by the architect Dorte Mandrup.
But even the land itself - the island - is hardly a long-term feature of the harbour with a long history. This land was all claimed from the sea in the late 19th century and until the mid 1990s this was the shipyard of Burmeister & Wain with a huge area of workshops and dry docks with buildings that had been added or adapted as necessary and as and when there was new work to be completed. The massive dry dock out the east - such a prominent feature of the works - was only constructed around 1960 so it only had a working life of around 30 years.
Maybe there is also something wrong about romanticising or fetishising the decay of industrial buildings when actually they are all that is left to mark the tough and dangerous working lives of thousands and thousands of men ..... it's sobering to read that the workshops where Amass have their restaurant and garden now was workshops where some of the men who were too old or had been injured at work could find less dangerous jobs in servicing and repairing machinery.
Small boat yards and engineering works colonised the space after the ship yard closed and that large hall has been used for events and for rock and pop concerts but Refshaleøen is now entering its next phase with the opening of new gallery space for Copenhagen Contemporary in workshops across the front of the music venue and in an area towards the harbour there is a new food market and there will be craft workshops and studios in some of the other buildings.
Even this next phase is short term - or relatively short term in the broader context of planning and future 'investment' in long-term development. This is valuable land just across the harbour from the city and much will depend on whether or not there is the motivation to build a new road tunnel to link Nordhavn and Refshaløen.
If that happens then the whole character of the island will change.
Even now this is hardly what you would describe as marginal land but with or even without the tunnel this will not survive like this for much longer. The gallery has been told that they can stay for 10 years and some of the industrial buildings might survive to be given new uses but what merit will rusty steps and broken windows have then? What is the value of patina? What is the best rate of return on rust?