The Scandinavian Way of thinking

A recent trip to Copenhagen was an inspiration in terms of architecture, history, leisure, but more so an interesting viewpoint on how they are developing contemporary urban communities.

Visiting the Architecture Museum Dansk Arkitektur Center there is an extremely interesting video by one of the major advocates of humanistic architecture, Professor Jan Gehl, in a large-scale video installation. You can watch the video on Vimeo at (watch at full screen).

It’s 14 minutes long, where Jan describes the relationship of man with urban space, and how spaces are not allocated to individual buildings but the whole urban community is considered, so the ambition for the population is for social inclusion and democracy.

Walking around Copenhagen you immediately get the sense the city has prioritised getting around by bicycle or on foot. Many of their roads are wide enough to cater for a large footpath alongside a large cycle path (easily wide enough for 2 bikes side by side), 2 or 4 lanes for cars – many of which are electric, then there is a repeat of another cycle lane and footpath on the other side of the road.


The Danes certainly have a more expensive economy and pay much higher taxes, however their aspirational thinking on urban life and social housing are definitely to be admired.

Quote: The city planning of Copenhagen now encourages inhabitants to enjoy city life with an emphasis on community, culture and cuisine. The way people live together in housing cooperatives, in a close atmosphere of egalitarian togetherness, could be a cultural ideal in modern Denmark (Bruun, Maja Hojer).


Bohlendachvej flats, Freetown Christiania, Copenhagen


A more laid back lifestyle on one of the canals


Dansk Arkitektur Center


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