December 26th, 2019.
With an initial masterplan by Daniel Libeskind, signature buildings by Jean Nouvel and Bjarke Ingels, and a future focused approach to development Ørestad – Scandinavia’s most ambitious approach to urban design – should have been realised as a world leading precedent in the sensitive and relevant planning of mixed use urban sprawl.
However, nearly two decades since its inception, large swathes of land just outside Copenhagen’s third largest city, Malmo, remain largely undeveloped or incomplete.
Whilst the initial stalling of the project was circumstantial – the global financial crises had a devastating affect on momentum and planning – resulting zeitgeist has been its ultimate downfall. When Libeskind originally presented his masterplan for the downtown area of Ørestad, the cornerstone of the entire contemporary city, the approach was one based on the luxury of ambition, driven by an commendable desire to learn from past success as opposed to need. The succeeding decade seems to have been afflicted by profound paralysis as the world scrambled to resurrect financial ruin in a manner that still nurtured population growth and longevity of developing cities.
The lesson of Ørestad is in the planning. Nowhere does there appear to be a compromise option. A possibility to evolve and weather devastating changes to the global climate should they arise. The potential to readapt plans and still successfully deliver the bare necessity of intention – housing, employment opportunities and educational institutions. Instead, Ørestad stands today as a half-baked city of profound potential, optimal location and devastating shortcomings.
Ørestad from above. Image courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group.
8Tallet. Image courtesy of Bjarke Ingels Group.
Despite the rather beautiful architecture evident in the completed buildings that have come to make up a sum of its parts – the DR Concert Hall and award-winning residential buildings VM Mountain and 8Tallet designed by architect Bjarke Ingels – Ørestad has had to redefine itself. The mirror has been held before it and development in the past few years has limped forward to realise a different outcome. One that echoes the great intent with which it was imagined whilst harnessing the humble necessity of the 2020’s and beyond.
Words by Tiffany Jade.