An attractive ghost city

Ørestad has for a long time been called a ghost city and been criticized from a lot of people from the outside. But more and more people move to the area and big companies move their headquarters to the new city.

The new headquarters of Rambøll. All the buildings in this area are smaller in the end facing an area with detached houses. Photo: Karoline V. M. Hansen

By: Karoline V. M. Hansen

Only one year ago the Danish company Rambøll, that counsel engineer companies, moved into their new building in Ørestad. It is situated in the middle of Ørestad City and just next to the biggest intersection within the Nordic countries.


And Rambøll is not the only big company situated in Ørestad. The very good infrastructure in the new city is crucial, when companies decide to be situated in that part of Copenhagen.


The neighbour to Rambøll is Ferring Pharmaceuticals and they were the first to move in at Ørestad. And even though it took two years before the metro was done after their relocation, and their 14 floor big office building was the only one on the middle of the field for quite some time, Ferring Pharmaceuticals never doubted that the new city will flourish.


“We never had the thought if this was going to fail. We knew from the very beginning that this area was going to be attractive because of the international rail road, the metro, the airport very close and a bus stop at the foot of the building,” says Ole Kjærulf Jensen who is the Chairman of the Board in Ferring Pharmaceuticals.


Even though Ørestad is now a 10-years-old city, it still has the nickname “ghost city”.  But Ole Kjærulf Jensen doesn’t listen to the criticism anymore. The development in Ørestad even happened before he thought it would and suddenly a lot of houses were build and the shopping mall Field’s brought a lot of life to the area as well. And Ole Kjærulf couldn’t imagine a better place to be situated anywhere else in Denmark.


“It is much easier to attract a much better work force when we are situated at Ørestad; especially when it comes to our Swedish employees. If they had to travel much longer, they would probably prefer to stay in Sweden. But now if we can’t find a qualified Danish laboratory technician for instance, then we have no problem in attracting the Swedish laboratory technicians,” Ole Kjærulf explains and points out that they haven’t regret one single time, that they situated their headquarters in Ørestad even though it would have been cheaper in Sweden.


Perfect place for the “City Family”

It is not only the big international companies that settle down in Ørestad. Especially the families with children are flocking to the new city.

All over Ørestad there is a lot of small and bigger parks with playgrounds and places for barbecues. Photo: Karoline V. M. Hansen

In Ørestad more than 20 percent of the population is families with children – while in Copenhagen only a little more than 10 percent is families with children.


The brand new, functional and light apartments are one of the reasons. At the same time you have the nature close by and in less than 10 minutes you can be in the city centre of Copenhagen. And the mix between city and countryside is what attract the families with children.


This was exactly why Helle Harboe moved to Ørestad with her boyfriend and their newborn child.


“We had some demands when we started to look for a new apartment. The apartment should have balconies, enough space for a dishwasher, a washing machine and dryer and if it was an apartment higher than the ground floor it should have a lift,” Helle Harboe explains.


Because of these demands the possibilities of where to get an apartment was very limited. Helle Harboe and her boyfriends decided very fast, that Ørestad was the place they wanted to live.


“We haven’t regretted one single time. This is all we need,” says Helle and her boyfriends interrupt from the couch an says that if it hadn’t been for their new born son they would never have moved to Ørestad and complains that there’s no Blockbuster in the area.


“Maybe he’s right. But with a child living here is just a 100 time easier because of the lift, our own washing machine and so on,” Helle Harboe explains.

The population and residences in Ørestad. Where it is clear to see that more and more people move to the area. Information: Copenhagen Municipality 1th of January

“But it can sometimes seem a little bit deserted out here, because there isn’t that many shops and cafés except inside Field’s” Helle says and it is easy to notice that she says “out here” about Ørestad because she doesn’t see it as a part of Copenhagen yet, even though it’s not even ten minutes away from the city centre.


“It is mostly in the winter time. In the summer I don’t think it is deserted at all. The parks are swarming with people like ants coming out of their anthills,” Harboe explains and tells that she noticed that there is more people in the area now compared to when they moved in at the beginning of 2010.


And the numbers tells that more and more people are moving to Ørestad. Also the number of empty apartments are decreasing year by year. Of course the number will still vary – for example when new apartment blocks are done and no one have moved in yet. That is the reason why the number of empty apartments is bigger in 2011 than 2010. The building of the 8 House with 467 flats was done this year and therefore more empty apartments. But already half of them are sold so the number of empty apartments has already declined compared to this graph.


But even though there still is some empty apartments and a lack of life in Ørestad, Helle Harboe finds the people living in the area for very dedicated to make this new city a good place to live.

Empty residences in Ørestad. The number of empty residences is bigger in 2011 compared to 2010 but mainly because a big apartment block was finished. Already half of the apartments have been sold and the decrease in empty apartments is clear from this graph. Information: Copenhagen Municipality 1th of January.


“Last summer there was music for the children and different events. At Christmas time there was tents with glögg and Danish doughnut while there was a Lucia parade,” the young mother tells.


“But everything is sparkling new and shiny and the charm will come to the area with the people moving here. Everything is different a spring day compared to a winter day. It proofs that it is the people who create the life and not the buildings,” Helle Harboe says.




Read about some of the criticism about Ørestad right here.

The politicians in Denmark and Sweden are very fond of the new city – read why here.




About Karoline V. M. Hansen