Turning the Harbor into a “Sustainable City”…?

The city of Copenhagen is planning to transform the current port area at Nordhavnen, in one of the "greatest and most ambitious metropolitan projects in Scandinavia for years to come."


They want to build a sustainable city.

sustainable KPH


In place of the harbor at Nordhavnen, could there really be a "bioclimatic, environmentally friendly settlement"?

Some architects at an Italian think tank believe so: they put a lot of work into a proposal for what could be built where the Nordhavnen port currently lies.  There would be an eco-friendly park with many slow-growth trees. 


They would build a dune, green houses, and a light tram line through the settlement.  Crystal buildings, wooden panels, vegetation: "The green houses are furnished by indoor vegetation and named by the
proposed essences, inspired to the gardens of southern countries."  The dismissed harbor basins would be used for floating houses. 

About these houses: "The multifunctional typologies are intended as activity-containers
including public, semi-private and private spaces, able to adapt them
to a strong flexibility, due to the quick evolution of the spaces for
knowledge-oriented jobs and research, for e-commerce, leisure and
entertainment, for art expression and culture."

Knowledge-oriented jobs: in this visionary future we have moved, then, from a production-oriented economy to this supposed "knowledge economy".  (Doesn’t this just mean that somebody else produces stuff while we talk about it and organize it?)

It is a visionary green future, but there are some ugly questions to be asked about it.  For there to be trams, electricty, roads, and infrastructure, there still must be production happening somewhere.  The question is, where?  Has the production simply shifted to some "less developed" country?  Do we put the industrial part of Copenhagen harbor out of commission, and just move our industrial infrastructure to somewhere out-of-sight?

It’s important to come up with visions of what an ecological future might look like.  It’s also important to critique these visions, and examine whether they are just and equally distributed— or if they are simply eco-paradises for the rich, while the poor get their same old raw deal.

(image from one of the winning designs in an international competition for Nordhavnen’s future)

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