Is the deserted town Ørestad going to wake up?

Ørestad that is situated between Copenhagen city center and Copenhagen airport has for a long time been known as the deserted town. The corporation behind Ørestad calls it a success, while a landscape architect calls the planning outdated.


By: Karoline V. M. Hansen

Metro, international trains, regional trains and the airport 5 minutes away. When you stand in the middle of Ørestad the entire world is more or less in front of you. But is this fantastic infrastructure worth anything, if Ørestad is going to be a deserted town?


Jens Kramer Mikkelsen is the managing director of CPH City and Harbour development and he has no doubt, that Ørestad is going to be a success.


Map of Ørestad. In the buttom it's Ørestad South which is the least developed area. In the middle it is Ørestad City and on the top it is Ørestad North which is the most developed area so far. Photo: CPH City and Harbour development

“Something that you have to be aware of when you build a city is the time. There is no greengrocers here or that many cafés and the threes are not that big. But they will be,” says Jens Kramer Mikkelsen.


But it is not sure that the time itself can save the city from its deserted reputation. Because the architecture and structure of the city doesn’t invite shops to be located in the area or normal every day life on the streets.


The landscape architect Jacob Kamp sees Ørestad as a clear sign of a planning process made many years ago and is now outdated.


“This project is from the time of industrialism and modernism. In this period you wanted big business district and then again other big districts were people live. In the future knowledge society and sustainable society you would much rather prefer mixed facilities,” says Jacob Kamp and explains that the reason why this project is failed from his point of view is, that they stick to much to the original master plan.


But that is something that Jens Kramer Mikkelsen doesn’t agree in. He sees the spontaneity, when it comes to the master plan, as a strength to Ørestad.

“The idea behind this was, that the planning should be so strong, that there was enough room for new and good ideas and new and exciting buildings could be developed. Nobody had thought about a round building as the Tietgen Dormitory or a building formed as the number eight, but this all shows that our plan is strong enough for changes to occur compared to the original master plan,” says Mikkelsen.

“That is very difficult to see,” says Jacob Kamp. “Even though The Tietgen Dormitory is one of the only good houses in Ørestad, it is still a very huge building and in the same big scale as all the other houses.”


Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, Managing director of CPH City and Harbour development, shows the most important and creative buildings in Ørestad. CPH City and Harbour is the company running Ørestad.


The Tietgen Dormatory is one of the only buildings in Ørestad that Jacob Kamp actually likes. Photo: Karoline V. M. Hansen

Kamp thinks that the only way to make Ørestaden better is to build more and build in many different scales. Something that Kramer doesn’t think is necessary.


“We thought big, when we planned this. It’s not supposed to be some kind of tiny romantic city,” Kramer says. “Then all the architects and connoisseurs can say what ever they want. This area is going to succeed and people flock to Ørestad”.

But even though people are moving to the area and a lot of big companies settle down in Ørestad, Jacob Kamp will never call it for a success.


“As an architect you should give the people what they didn’t know they wanted. What if people would be even more happy about living in Ørestad and even more people would move to the area, if they though a little bit different and not just only in big scaled building,” Kamp says.


“Ørestad is an evidence of a time and thinking of planning that we are hopefully going to put behind us very soon,” Kamp states.

They thought big when they started to build Ørestad. Big houses and big roads. Photo: Karoline V. M. Hansen







–       The buildings in Ørestad are going to contain 60 % office buildings, 20 % apartments and 20 % to other buildings to use for culture, service, trade and institutions

–       80.000 people are going to work in Ørestad

–       20.000 are going to live in Ørestad – around 6800 people live there now

–       Close to 20.000 already study in Ørestad

–       The plan for the region is going on for the next 20 years

–       The area of the region is 3,1 million square meters

–       The company behind Ørestad is called “By og Havn” (City and Harbour) and has to take care of the development in Ørestad and Copenhagen Harbour. The company is owned by the Municipality of Copenhagen (55 pct.) and the Danish State (45 pct.)

Information: CPH City and Harbour development

Read about what the companies situated in Ørestad and the people living there thinks about the city right here.

Even though the city has some scale problems, the politicians are still very fond of the new city – read why here.

About Karoline V. M. Hansen