« Copenhagen Urban Space Action Plan »

Copenhagen Municipality has initiated a process to develop the city’s urban spaces. Our aim is for the city of Copenhagen to become a unique european metropolis created for people. The city will be an international meeting place which offers an attractive environment. It will also be a place for living in that offers numerous possibilities for excitement, interest and delight.
The preliminary result is a draft action plan which is currently undergoing discussion.
New squares, commercial streets, connections and pedestrian streets will create a more coherent city. Dull streets in residential areas will be transformed into recreational oases. It will be inspiring and challenging to live in the city. There will be a new type of urban space which will encourage more outdoor city life.
We have sought inspiration in European cities where there have recently been notable acheivements in city development. In Lyon and St.Etienne many projects have been realised which have given the city a new identity.This has been acheived in co-operation with the French city planner Jean-Pierre Charbonneau who has joined us as a consultant during this process in Copenhagen.
Initially, we held three workshops in spring 2004, attended by citizens, politicians and other interested parties . The purpose was to discuss the development of the city’s urban spaces –meeting places for the community. Many exciting ideas and thoughts were considered and developed into a draft action plan. If approved, the plan will be a unique planning and development tool for the future.
Three generations of urban space
Copenhagen municipality has been working to improve the city’s urban spaces for many years. In 1963 the world’s first pedestrian street, two kilometres long and now known simply as ‘Strøget’ was constructed. Since then many other streets and squares have been given over to pedestrians and today a large part of the city centre is car free. We call this the first generation of city spaces.
In the second generation numerous beautiful and well designed squares and meeting places emerged which reflected the special, subtle Scandinavian style of design. The city became a scene for exhuberent city life with cafe guests, musicians, chidren playing and young skaters.
We now intend to create a third generation of urban space which reflects recent changes in the population structure and work patterns. Copenhagen has previously been dominated by older people, but the community today has become increasingly diverse and multicultural. Many immigrants and younger citizens with children use the city in new ways. And there is more activity in the local areas due to increased levels of home working. We need to make spaces that reflect contemporary demands and which can create diversity and a modern identity.
Vision – A metropolis for people
The vision is to create a metropolis for people and a better place in which to live.
1. A flexible, international metropolis : the city will have a strong identity with a dynamic city life and attractive work places.
2. An attractive city to live in: in the residential areas there shall be possibilities for exciting and interesting experiences.
Three goals for development: Strategy – Quality – Process
1. Strategy – more coherency : we will create a coherent plan based on clear principles for the development of urban space.
2. Quality – better value for money : we will create better and cheaper solutions which will give us more attractive and usable urban spaces for the citizens.
3. Process – improved decision-making : we will establish a more effective foundation for political decisions and improved citizen dialogue and co-operation with private consultants and clients.
Strategy – More coherency – Four principles
The urban space action plan, which will take into account plans, strategies and policies previously agreed by the municipality, will lead to more effective and focused city development. The action plan is a good working tool for the planning and development of new public spaces, temporary events, city art, street furniture and lighting.
Urban space will be developed following four principles. These will result in the strengthening of connections both within and between city neighbourhoods. Pedestrian faciliities will be improved by establishing wider pavements, promenades, pedestrian priority areas and safer and more attractive connections. New squares will open up possibilities for pausing, resting, observing, playing and active recreation.
1. Commercial streets – the ‘heart’ of the local areas
The local commercial streets will provide focus points for city life in local neighbourhoods.
Examples of improvements
. Removal of obtrusive street furniture
. Wider pavements, primarily on the sunny side of the street
. More resting places at strategic points
. Improved lighting
. Tree planting
2. Connections make the city accessible – also for those with disabilities
Improve neighbourhood infra-structure in relation to shopping and cultural centres, recreational areas, institutions and sports facilities.
Examples of improvements
. Wider pavements
. Improved crossing possibilities at road junctions
. Improved access for the handicapped
. Tree planting
. Improved lighting
. Improved signage
3. Squares
Provide the citizens with new possibilities for pausing, resting, observing, playing and active recreation.
Examples of improvements
. New surfacing on street corners and redundant bus traffic areas
. Creating new places at street junctions
. Marking and establishing borders using planters and flower pots
. Creating green areas using flowers and trees
4. Pedestrian streets – roads and promenades around the harbour
Create attractive and safe connections through the city and improve conditions for pedestrians
. Examples of improvement
. Dual use pedestrian/traffic areas
. New surfacing solutions
. Define boundaries with signs and bollards
Quality – More value for money-‘Simple and cheap’
The action plan will introduce a new concept for quality ‘Simple and Cheap’
. In addition to the normal one-off projects which are primarily in the historic city, numerous smaller projects will be constructed throughout the whole city
. Projects will be constructed using new construction solutions, both technical and functional
. Copenhagen’s special identity will be preserved and developed
Better value urban space will be created for the citizens of Copenhagen
. Dull stretches of asphalt shall be given over to active recreation and pausing places
. Narrow and cramped pavements will be transformed into promenades, which will create improved access and more beautiful street spaces
. Trees will connect different areas in the city
. New connections will be created and identity enhanced with green infra-structure planting
. Flowers will brighten up local areas
. Urban space will be used for temporary events and city art
Three examples
A new green connection – Gunner Nu Hansens Plads
The road between Østerbrogade and Fælledparken is today dominated by parked cars.
The parking will be moved and a wider pavement constructed along the length of the street which can then be used as a promenade and for roller skating. Small squares will be built along the route and rows of trees used to mark the new green connection
A new square for family leisure – Sankt Kjelds Plads
A little-used roundabout will be converted into a recreational oasis. New surfacing and
planting boxes will be used to form protected green resting areas, where children can play
A new square for young children – Tietgensgade
A grey and dull expanse of asphalt will be converted into an exciting outdoor play space for youngsters with possibilities for rollerblading, skateboarding and playing football
Process –
Better decision-making
In the action plan new processes will be proposed which will result in more satisfactory and successful projects for the citizens.
. Politicians and citizens shall become involved at an earlier stage in the process
. A project forum or advisory board consisting of civil servants will be set up. The group will oversee and evaluate larger projects
. Partnerships with private consultants and clients will be developed
. Documents, maps and illustrations will be made more legible for non- professional people
A strengthened programme phase
Politicians and citizens will be consulted on the development of the project programme. Citizens will be consulted through focus groups ( namely active citizens, specialists, people from commerce, and shop owners) and public hearings.
From sketch to reality
Several real projects were developed during the three workshops. During the development of the Sønder Boulevard project the dialogue was considerably more comprehensive than usual. Citizens and politicians discussed proposals for the programme, overall plan and the final project at length. Different proposals were presented for discussion so in reality there have been real alternatives to choose between.The proposal was developed in collaboration with Danish landscape architect Stig L. Anderson.