Monday, 21 November 2011

I went to an exhibition that radically altered my perspective on the cities that are closest to my heart. I think it's the reason why I have come back feeling they way I do about Adelaide. This place is hard work. Which is fine - I'd rather be a creator than a consumer - but it's draining. In a city like Copenhagen they're constantly looking 25 years forward, instead of only realising now in 2011 that urban sprawl, a focus on macro instead of micro, the lack of useful and inspiring public spaces, and a heavy reliance on cars is not only unsustainable but makes for a dead city.

A visit to the old Carlsberg Brewery (accompanied by a great podwalk which you may be interested to listen to anyway) blew me away. An enormous, once-industrial space quite close to the city has been abandoned, and will take 15-20 years to redevelop into housing. We have a similar situation here in Adelaide with Bowden. Yet while Copenhagen works out exactly how to best develop it, it has opened the entire space up to start making people feel comfortable and at home in the area. Interactive artworks like the ropes; well-thought out street furniture that carefully considers the way people interact not just with the space, but each other; and a continuous stream of festivals and arts events means that by the time housing starts to spring up in Carlsberg, everyone will already feel completely at home there. Place making at its very, very best.

I also picked up a great study on cycling in Copenhagen and was fascinated by the statistics. 68% of Copenhageners cycle at least once a week, and up to 50% use cycling as their mode of transportation to work or study. Meanwhile, when you take into account transport costs, security, comfort, branding/tourism and health factors, the net social gain of cycling in Denmark is DKK 1.22 per kilometre (20-25 cents). The cycling culture is making Copenhagen money! Comparatively, for every kilometre driven by a car, there is a net social loss of DKK 0.69. You can download 'Copenhagen: City of Cyclists' here.

1 comment:

Lucent Imagery said...

Oh I am completely with you on all your points. I have an interest in urban planning and I keep crossing my fingers that Australia will catch up faster! I'm excited each time I see public space developed, urban parks and green walls and pedestrian & cycling infrastructure. I find some of the developments overseas so incredibly inspiring. We visited Copenhagen in June last year and I fell in love with it as much as I thought I would. We loved their architecture, the cafes, the water, the urban planning for bikes and pedestrians. We live an urban life as much as possible and I am excited for each step that I see Australian cities take in the right direction. What a great find in doing the visit to the old brewery! What a shame we missed that one.