Himmel & Hav - By & Havn at Nordhavn

On Saturday and Sunday, By & Havn opened their exhibition in The Silo about the development of Nordhavn - or the North Harbour as one of their contributions to Kulturhaven … the harbour culture festival.

There were models, plans, historic photographs and maps to show how the harbour has developed as more and more land has been claimed from the sea and docks and quays constructed.

A relatively new terminal for the ferry to Oslo and the large dock for cruise ships along with the last area of container dock survive but the oil terminal and most commercial docks have gone and the bonded warehouses converted to offices. Now, much of the land and large areas of newly claimed land that have been built up with spoil from digging the tunnels for the new metro are now streets and squares of large apartment developments.

One task of the exhibition is to show how the development of Nordhavn will be completed through the next stages as an extension of the metro is completed but it is also, in part, a way to show new sustainability goals and to show how this area has taken on board the latest ideas about contending with climate change so, for instance, water from cloud bursts is filtered and taken into the harbour rather than being allowed to overwhelm sewage systems.

By & Havn are the development body that is also overseeing planning and the extensive and ongoing construction work in Ørestad, on the Amager side of the south harbour, and the next stage of development around the power station on the city side of the south harbour and By & Havn will oversee and control the proposed development on new islands north of Refshaleøen.

The exhibition will be open to the public again next weekend - Saturday 31 August and Sunday 1 September and after that can be opened specifically for organised groups by arrangement.

By & Havn


Kulturhavn 2019

Kulturhavn Festival set out in 2001 with three main objectives:

  • To inspire and motivate the audience to engage more in culture and leisure-time by giving them the opportunity to try out new activities and enjoy some sneak previews from the cultural season that lies ahead

  • To familiarise the citizens with Copenhagen Harbour as an urban space, encouraging people, associations, cultural institutions and commercial activities to use and develop this blue urban space

  • To act as companion and a marketing platform for the city's associations and cultural institutions

This year there will be around 230 events and activities including music and theatre on the water; sport from yoga to a “floating water fight” and guided walks and exhibitions.

Kulturhavn Festival
23-25 August 2019. 


Kulturhavn - the harbour festival



This weekend it is Kulturhavn - the harbour festival of culture in Copenhagen - with events not just in the central harbour but over the eight kilometres from Nordhavn to Sydhavn and with everything from demonstrations of belly dancing to an oom-pah-pah band on a boat sailing around the canals to swimming and kayak competitions. 

This was celebrating diverse culture - in the broadest meaning of the word culture - so what has this to do with a design blog? Well, rather a lot.

For a start - with historic working boats and tall ships moored in the central harbour - you realise that here are all the key elements of good design … a clear pushing of the boundaries of what was then up-to-date technology; an appreciation of the best materials and the skills with tools and machinery to work them along with a strong sense of style … so here is a key part of the Danish design heritage. We might not have talked and written about Form and Function in design until the 20th century but we didn’t invent the concept.




The noise and bustle on Ofelia Plads - the recently rebuilt wharf by the national theatre - brought back some of the vitality of the docks when they were working with ships loading or unloading. New apartments along the harbour are fantastic and no one would have swum in the docks then - or at least not for leisure - but it was the working harbour that is the very reason that Copenhagen is here and why it thrived. It is great that some of the cranes and rail tracks and bollards, where the ships tied up, do survive but maybe not enough. 

So the festival is a reminder of just how vital the water way of the harbour is to the city and it is to the credit of the planners that since the navy and commercial shipping moved out in the 1990s they have done so much to not just reuse the buildings and develop the land but are trying to put the harbour very much at the centre of life in the city.

It really is an incredible resource.


view of what is now Ofelia Plads when it was a working wharf

the harbour cranes to the east of the Opera House