Getting from A to B via C: Hvidovre to Ørestad

This weekend sees Kulturhavn, Copenhagen’s harbour festival, getting its annual run-out. On offer once more is Valbybåden, a boat trip from Sydhavn through the lock and down Kalveboderne as far as Hvidovre Havn – recommended!

For the rest of the year though transport around what they like to call the harbour is pretty limited – a handful of waterbuses and a fleet of pleasure boats confined to the area above Slusen, ie taking in Islands Brygge but ignoring the rest of Amager. We can only dream of a waterbus from Vestegnen into Copenhagen, like they had from 1928-32.

Due not least to the 1947 Finger Plan transport around the Greater Copenhagen area operates largely on a hub and spoke model, with local train lines passing through the central station. The new metro city ring (current eta: 2019) and other proposed developments should eventually create a better functioning network, but I’m betting that, as in many cities, they are ruing the day they pulled up those tram lines.

The up and coming area of Ørestad on Amager is merely a hop, skip and a jump away as the crow flies from where I am sitting – around 5km. Is it possible to get there by public transport without going into central Copenhagen?

There may be no S tog on Amager but it boasts:

  • two metro lines – in effect one line splitting at Christianshavn, one running down the western side of Amager to Ørestad and the other down the eastern side to Amager Strand and the airport
  • regional rail – all the way from Helsingør and across the Øresund to Malmø and beyond, via the airport
  • a variety of buses (12, 30, 33, 35, 77, 78; 75E, 871; 4A, 500S) – quick segue re buses; A buses run day and night, during the day at pretty regular intervals (4-7 mins); they stop a lot and have quite wacky routes; S buses, on the other hand, have few stops on route, the idea being to connect S tog stations and other hubs
  • the E20 motorway cutting a dash across (exit 19 for Ørestad)
  • limited parking – on-street parking deemed a no-no, meaning more income from ‘iconic’ multi storey car parks

The distance by road to Ørestad, via the motorway, is around 10.9km. It is possible to walk (coming soon!) via Kalvebod Sti, a journey of 8.5km, which would take around 1hr 43, or to cycle, taking around 27 mins (for a Dane), but today we’ll take the bus.

Itinerary to reach Vestamager station for a 16:00 appointment:

  • 14:59: depart!
  • 15:08: 200S from Brostykkevej, arr Avedøre Holme, Center Syd, 15:21, cross road (counterintuitively)
  • 15:28: 500S to Ørestad Station, arr 15:39
  • 15:39: metro to Vestamager, arr 15:47 – however for one stop and a distance of 1.1km may as well walk, should take 14 mins…

outbound

The return journey isn’t really feasible by this route, as buses to/from Avedøre Holme tail off outside work hours (ie after 16:00), and, not to put to fine a point on it, it’s pretty bleak out there. But Rejseplanen comes up with a third multi-modal option I’d never have thought of: metro to Bella Center, bus 4A to Sjælør and then S tog to Friheden, which gets the total journey down below 40 mins, mainly due to the increased frequency of the 4A in the late afternoon (yes, I know). I gave it a whirl, and it went swimmingly, not least with the thrill of driving through Bella Sky.

return

When I first took this journey a couple of years ago it felt like virgin territory, and no doubt the number of trips from Hvidovre to Ørestad is a tad limited, but journeys across are key to opening up a city, integrating suburban wastelands and freeing up space for all those people moving to Greater Copenhagen currently being crammed into egg box style apartments in the city centre.

As activity in Ørestad increases the need for access directly from Vestegnen will grow. The 500s bus tour takes in Glostrup, Brøndbyvester and Brøndby Strand on its way to Avedøre. It will be interesting to revisit this post in another couple of years to see if the options have changed.

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CPH.dk: Copenhagen Airport

What could be more emblematic of a country than its airport? After over a year without flying I’m blowing my saintly ecological footprint (vegetarian public transport user with district heating) in two trips in December. So let’s take a look at Copenhagen Airport, also known as CPH.dk.

On the island of Amager and a stone’s throw (15 mins drive) from here, but with no local train on Amager the usual way to get from a to b is via c, ie by going into town and out again. Flinging the journey into Rejseplanen (“where will you go?”) and knocking out trains reveals an obvious bus and metro option I’ve never considered – bus to Frederiksberg, metro to the airport. Same price, takes slightly longer, but feels marginally more sensible and avoids central station hell. (Bus to Frederiksberg is actually one of my favourite zone anomalies. The bus stop, and several before it, is in zone 1, but walk across the road to the metro station and you are still in zone 2 and can travel several stops further. Go further, pay less.) Or maybe I’ll just cadge a lift in the dog taxi off my partner. (Update: how about a third option with two changes – buses to Ørestad, rail to the airport?)

You can read about the airport’s history on the CPH.dk site, some pretty basic English errors going on there. Founded in 1925, a new terminal, designed by Vilhelm Lauritzen, was completed in 1939. Seen from above apparently it’s the shape of an aircraft wing (pics), but aren’t they all. In use only until 1960, in 1999 the building was moved the 3.8km to Vilhelm Lauritzen Allé 2, where it is now used for VIP arrivals, conferences etc. It’s listed and regarded as “a masterpiece of Nordic functionalism and international modernism”.

When you arrive at CPH.dk you certainly know you are in Scandinavia. A booklet I found somewhere celebrates the opening of Finger D in 2001, the first part of a proposed Terminal 4, and the train station. The aim is for a ren og rolig (clean and calm) airport, simple and functional. It’s a good taster of the prevailing minimalist style for new arrivals, as is the station, which seems to have its own microclimate and exists in a permanent cold, dark and grey state. All in all, not really somewhere you’d want to linger, and rather different from Heathrow, with its lary carpets and dire warnings against rabies.

Bypassing the land of passion and luxury (duty free; who thought that up, such a misnomer for anything vaguely Scandi), shops with nothing to buy and over-priced eating opportunities (could it all possibly be a metaphor?) there are a number of artworks which may be a better way of passing your time:

  • Terminal 1 – dates from 1969 and is for domestic flights; worth a look for Robert Jacobsen’s iron sculpture of Pegasus (1993) just outside and Freddy Fraek’s AbNorma (1989) at Gate 6
  • Terminal 2 – originally from 1960 but has seen a lot of rebuilding; the home of budget airlines with fewer artistic interventions, but by the car park building is Henrik Starcke’s sculpture De Fire Vinde (the four winds) from 1964
  • 2014-12-12 14.08.55

    the girls keeping an eye on things

    Terminal 3 – from 1998, used by SAS and its more pricey friends:

    • at the top of the escalator as you pass to security is Hanne Varming’s bronze Pigerne i lufthavnen from 1999 casting an eye over the people struggling with the self check-in machines, just a little folkelig but a nice touch
    • Finger A – glass frieze of flying people, horses and centaurs by Frans Widerberg and 8.9m diameter mosaic of a labyrinth in marble and granite in the rotunda by Jørn Larsen, both from 1998
    • Finger C – built for non-Schengen passengers in 2001, on two levels with a balcony, lots of daylight and a Jens-Flemming Sørensen fountain
    • Finger D – at Gate D2 there are glass birds designed by Faroese Trondur Patursson in 2001
  • chairs:
    • in the arrivals area designed by Poul Kjærholm
    • Hans Wegner’s lufthavnsstole from 1960 can be seen throughout, with a modernised version from the beginning of the 1990s in Finger C; also in Finger C are Jen Ammundsen’s chairs from 1978; blue, taller, corrugated effect
    • main chairs these days are Twin (resting; more blue) and Partout (upright) by Johnny Sørensen and Rud Thygesen from 1995/6
    • in the lounge area on the second floor of Terminal 2 are a few Take off chairs by Thomas Alken, yet more blue with a matching foot stool
  • the floor – uses merbau and jatoba (me neither) from plantations in South East Asia and the Windies, aimed at lending a warmer effect to all that steel and glass
  • outside restaurant A Hereford Beefstouw there’s a large bronze bull designed by Janis Strupulis in 1996, an artwork and not just an advertising gimmick…he also offers two salmon which can be seen in the Seafood Bar
  • NEW spotted in January 2015, classic Københavner grøn benches in the baggage reclaim area, and in April 2016 even as a #copenhagenbench meme – see my photo

Updates:

  • 16 Dec 2014: my 2001 booklet has been overtaken by events, not least the opening of the aptly named budget Finger F, or CPH Go, in 2010. No aesthetic niceties here, there’s  even horrors! a linoleum floor. Likewise my destination, Edinburgh, has changed since I was last there just over two years ago. The security area, admittedly too small to accommodate the levels of traffic the city now attracts, has been transformed into all nine circles of hell as part of a £25 million extension. And there’s a tram into town!
  • 20 April 2015: HOW, Heathrow Orchard Walks, underway in the environs of Heathrow, contested land under threat of a third runway, and Heathrow Biodiversity Site, walked by Diamond Geezer in June.
  • 20 July 2015: Finger C is being extended and the runway widened to accommodate the Airbus A380 (on an Emirates flight to Dubai) from 1 December – see latest
  • 20 Oct 2015: Confessions of an airport lover
  • 28-29 April 2016: Airport culture(s) at SAS (@airportculture)
  • Nov 2016: piece in VINK | Dec 2016: Oli Mould walking Heathrow
  • 2017: airports, out of time and place | Airportness: the nature of flight

Bruno de Wachter walks round airports:

The airport cuts a hole in the landscape. That’s why it is represented as a shaded surface on the map…In order to describe an airport, you have to draw a circle around it. Walking transforms a line on the map into a discovery. In order to discover an airport, you have to walk around it.

He hasn’t done CPH yet, but in 2005 Gåastand took a stroll around the perimeter. Certainly the walk to the cheap car park gives an idea of the scale of the operation, spreading across what remains of old Amager like a virus.

But airports have a special appeal as well, existing between time and place as a non-place everyone by definition wants to leave, and where there are few people who aren’t on the time schemes of somewhere else. In A week at the airport Alain de Botton, writer in residence at Heathrow, describes airports as “imaginative centres of our civilisation”, while in The global soul Pico Iyer, living “for a while” at LAX, says:

Airports are both a city’s business card and its handshake…like little dolls within the larger dolls of the city…a gift store with culture shock, the product of a mixed marriage between a border crossing and a shopping mall.

And from Edgelands: “Plane-spotting, unlike trainspotting, is a quintessentially edgelands pastime. As boys growing up in the Seventies, we remember the thrill of visiting an airport. But we never flew.” In my family, we went to the restaurant. See Manchester Airport’s Runway Visitor Park, and, on another level, Tempelhof.

Copenhagen Airport, immortalised in song by Annette Heick in 2007, the same year that Scooch flew the flag for the UK: