Originally posted on May 2013 Study Tour of Energy in Denmark:
As in most cities worldwide, Copenhagen has limited space and a growing population. Copenhagen is expected to grow by 100,000 inhabitants by 2025, increasing the population from 537,000 to 637,000. The City of Copenhagen expects that the families and young people moving to the city will require an estimated 45,000 new homes.
As part of our Energy Study Tour, we spent an afternoon in Ørestad, a development project expected to house 20,000 people, and employ 80,000 people. City developers are excited about the development’s location and infrastructure, which includes easy access to the metro, airport, and railway, as well as roads and bicycle paths. The Ørestad Development Corporation was founded in 1993 to manage the area’s growth, and is owned by municipality of Copenhagen and the Ministry of Finance. As the result of an international architectural competition in 1994, Ørestad was divided into four districts and the first office building was built in 2001. As of now there are over 3,000 flats and 2,067,747 square feet of office space built, and over 5,000 people are in residence. The area includes private, cooperative, and subsidized housing for families, students and individuals.
As we walked through Ørestad, I tried to imagine what it would be like to live there, and how living there would change my carbon footprint. The crowd pleaser was Mountain Dwellings, a housing development designed by award-winning Copenhagen/New York architects BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group). I admit to being totally intrigued by this building, in great part because it features a giant mural of the Himalayans commissioned from a Japanese photographer. The building has the appearance of having been built on the mountain ridge–a compelling visual in the utterly flat, pastoral landscape. A public staircase on the outside allows people to “climb” the mountain, and a local mountain climbers association is planning to add a climbing wall near the peak of the mural. There is something very cheeky about how the Mountain Dwellings’ high-tech urban design embraces interpretations of nature.