A City Worth Living

28 x Urban Development in Denmark
Rauchstrasse 1, 10787 Berlin
Mon–Fri 10 am–7 pm, Sat+Sun 11 am–4 pm

Literally heated discussions are currently being held about urban development. Cities must prepare for the future and become more sustainable. The Danish embassy's new traveling exhibition shows what this can look like using 28 examples from Denmark. The exhibition shows a number of successful examples of architecture and urban planning in Denmark and deliberately also takes a look at projects outside the largest cities, which often enough attract attention. The exhibition is supplemented with interviews and film impressions of the projects. As a kaleidoscope of very different projects, the exhibition also wants to stimulate discussion: What actually makes a city worth living in, for whom are we building and who can and can participate?

In 1969, Danish architect and urban planner Jan Gehl and like-minded people built a playground between the dreary blocks of flats in the Copenhagen suburb of Høje Gladsaxe to protest against the mostly empty and desolate spaces between them. A true urban guerrilla action that represented a small intervention in the city but gave a far-reaching impetus to the Danish urban development debate. The philosophy of Jan Gehl, which he u. a. conveyed in his standard work "Life between houses" (Livet mellem husene), has set standards. He was concerned with promoting social interaction in the city and respect for people's needs. Danish architects and urban planners have been measuring themselves against this at least since then and considering what the built framework for quality of life could look like.

A city is not only houses, but is only a city when there is life in-between houses. How do you plan and how do you build for it? The epoch of modernist building blunders in the 1960s – with plenty of space for car traffic – also left its mark on Denmark. A lot has happened since then.

Urban planning today has to deal with corrections where city centers are dying out and where ports are no longer used industrially. You can see how this works in Svendborg on Funen, where a lively harbor environment is being created. It is also about encounters and space for communities.

However, urban planning must also be done with respect for sustainability and with an eye on climate change. Not just out of general goodwill, but because there is a concrete threat of flooding. The blue-green garden city of Kokkedal and the climate district Skt. Kjelds in Copenhagen show how this can be combined.

Denmark undoubtedly boasts some fantastic architectural flagships, but Danish architects are also asking themselves the question of whether it is always necessary to build new. Maltfabrikken in Ebeltoft, Polymeren on Funen or the Streetmekka in Viborg show how empty, older industrial buildings can be breathed new life into - incidentally often on the initiative of the citizens themselves.

Last but not least, the question arises as to whether it is always necessary to build and intervene. Not everything can be planned and in some cases it is necessary to leave the city to the people and their appropriations. As in the case of Fjordbyen in Aalborg.