A lot has changed in Copenhagen over the nine years I’ve lived here but it is still a city I am in love with. It has matured into a different kind of love than the heady early days. I still get my breath taken away by the city, I still love the people here and our life. But most of the time it is the kind of love that makes you feel comfortable and safe. That this is my city and my home – this makes me happy.
I do however see changes. With the supposed housing shortage here there are more and more apartments being built and it is changing the face of the city. For many, many years there was a building policy about the heights of building and whilst new applications are looked at carefully, this rule is being waived more and more, with high rise public buildings and apartments popping up in Nørrebro, Vesterbro and the city centre. These buildings set a precedent and I fear that the flat beauty of the city is slowly being eroded.
When I read that the iconic Palads cinema painted in its beautiful pastel colours by Poul Gernes in 1989 and has been standing since 1912 will be torn down to be replaced by some steel and glass behemoth it makes me mad (as it did a number of people who protested the decision).
There are plans to build yet another high rise apartment, retail and leisure complex on its site, so close to the incongruous building that is Axel Towers, I wonder if we are now on a slippery slope where Big Money and developers are deciding the face of our city.
I wrote about the changing face of Vesterbro before and talking to a friend who is moving out of her post 90s apartment there I hear the rent for this two bedroom place will be pushing 23,000dkk a month for the next tenants and this is living in the middle of bars and the Red Light area. With no cap on rents in modern apartments, how long will it be before the regular working person is pushed out of the market, both rental and buying, in the newly built areas, if they can ever afford to live there in the first place?
There are a number of active groups trying to save places from major development such as the biodiversity of Amager Fælled to Palads Theatre to trees all over the city. Many organise via Facebook so that is a good place to start if you want to get involved. I know there is an argument that these protests don’t work but sometimes they do and that is no excuse to sit on your sofa and do nothing.
If nothing else get aware and sign petitions. But if you are on your sofa take a visit to www.wechange.dk and add your signature to causes that mean something to you (this platform is one that anyone can post a petition on so there are some very micro interest ones) or start your own petition.
In a small country this can have more impact than in bigger ones. The petition against proposed development on Amager Fælled has 28,000 signatures and a decision is pending in parliament over this issue and there is a protest organised for the 7 May Sandra Høj is the woman behind Rød Byens Trær and she works to protect valuable mature trees in the city from being cut down and has had some victories.
If you love eating in the current grungey Copenhagen Street Food you may want to get involved in signing a petition to save this from modern development and of course yet again more apartments. I know it’s a tiny bit of history being lost here (and by that I mean the old paper stores from when newspapers were printed here) but with each little bit of history being erased by homogenous modern developments the soul of the city is slowly chipped away. Remember the destruction is the Wall of Fame last year? Little but not insignificant.
It is time what we stood up to the big developers and show that there is value in the old and also in nature. There are battles on many fronts and this is a war we may not win in the end but small victories count. So like a t shirt I bought years ago in the hotbed of political activism that is Berkeley, California says: *Stop bitching and start a revolution”.