Updates: 2015 saw activities at Nordhavn (guided tours of Århuskvarteret, a bit of messing about in boats) and a tempting boat trip from Stubkaj to Islands Brygge, plus extended public bathing and fishing rights…most notable for 2016 are the additional venues reflecting the changing focus of the ‘harbour’, with five locations at Nordhavn, as well as Ofelia Plads, Operaen and Papirøen
Day 2 of Kulturhavn 2014 (day 1) took us to Enghave Brygge, a largely untouched former industrial area inbetween the Fisketorvet shopping mall and the newly developed Teglholmen. Centred round the HC Ørsted power station it’s classic edgelands again, reminiscent of Refshaleøen but bang in the middle of the city. This time I went en famille, ie accompanied by two hot and over-excited beagles, which limits things somewhat.
Picking names apart here is a bit of a challenge. Enghave Brygge is the waterfront part of Kongens Enghave (local history), also known as Sydhavn, part of the official district of Vesterbro/Kongens Enghave. Sydhavn has a reputation as an area with a high proportion of people on benefits, low education rates and life expectancy plus a high incidence of social problems. The waterfront was reclaimed barely a century ago, and in that time has seen heavy industry come and go.
From the south access is via the heavily trafficked Vasbygade, few bikes there. Following a side road round took us back to DieselHouse, where tour buses were disgorging men in check shirts to watch the engine being started, followed by pølser and sodavand or a beer in the sun.
DieselHouse opened as an attraction in 2006. It was built to house the huge engine driving the power station, the biggest diesel motor in the world for over 30 years until it was decommissioned in 2004. A timeline shows the global significance of Burmeister & Wain (aka B&W of the eponymous halls), the company who produced the engine and others for ocean going liners around the world for over a century. B&W is still a player as part of MAN Diesel & Turbo, with 2.2K employees in CPH. A big thumbs up for preserving industrial architecture in such an impressive way.
Behind the power station, and visible from the harbour bus, is the Hall of Fame, a graffiti gallery surrounding an area as big as a football pitch previously used to store coal. One wall is made up of a 170m long piece showing evolution from the Big Bang to the Ice Age, created by Ulrik Schiødt during the summers of 1999 and 2000 and supported by the power station – for now. (Nov 2014: here’s the latest on the graffiti wall. Basically, it’s toast. June 2016: a portion to be housed in the Museum of Copenhagen IDC.)
A man let himself through the wire fence, locking it behind him, and disappeared into Flydende By (Facebook) – turns out this is a group of guerilla climate change activists cum organic architects, set up during COP15 and also given temporary leave to stay.
Rounding the corner we came upon a caravan park, largely inhabited by Italian families working at the Italian supermarket across the road, but on a Sunday afternoon loudly enjoying the Danish sun. A demolition site fronted the harbour – here’s hoping this rather nice building, built in 1918-20 by the splendidly named Uniscrap, will remain. Kulturstyrelsen has recognised its architectural value and cultural significance.
The whole area is in a state of flux with almost an absence of development control, but a local plan adopted last summer reveals what may be to come in the shape of the Frederiks Brygge masterplan – 2,400 apartments, 37,800 m2 commercial/retail space, a 700m long canal, a station on the planned South Harbour Line of the metro, bridges to Teglholmen and Islands Brygge…put your envelope away now and return to reality.
If it feels odd to talk of gentrification in Denmark there’s still a process of flattening and smoothing going on. At the moment there are still secret places to discover, hidden gems, hidden harbours, hidden rivers. It’s exciting to see parts of a city left to its own devices, creating something full of contrasts, of itself and free from the official interpretation of how things are meant to be. We don’t need another Hellerup, working class or otherwise.