Jernbanebyen: COBE architects develop new mega project

With “Jernbanebyen”, a new large green inner-city district is being built on an old railway site in Copenhagen. 5,000 to 10,000 people are to live in the super-green and car-free district in the future. COBE architects are providing the master plan. Read all about the project here.

Copenhagen is also suffering from growing pains. In the last ten years, the Danish capital has gained 100,000 inhabitants. This is growth of 19 per cent. Forecasts predict a new influx of 100,000 new Copenhageners by 2031. (On the subject of urban mutations, we recommend the topos 113 e-paper “Urban Mutations“).

At the same time, less living space has been built in recent years than would have been necessary. As a reaction to this, prices on the real estate market have exploded in Copenhagen, as they have in many European cities. As a result, there are fewer and fewer square metres of living space available per capita.

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More living space and more green in Copenhagen

With the new urban development plan kp19, the city wants to tackle this problem. The plan sets the direction for the city over twelve years and aims to create space for the 100,000 projected new arrivals. Specifically, the city has set out to secure space for 60,000 new homes. In addition, 20 per cent of Copenhagen’s housing is to consist of social housing. For newly built housing, this target is even higher, at 25 per cent.

The city also wants to ensure that housing is diverse: for young people, for families with and without children, single households, senior citizens and socially disadvantaged people, as well as for people with disabilities.

Parallel to the new housing, the city also plans to develop open spaces. With more green space, Copenhagen wants to increase the quality of life of its residents, but also contribute to biodiversity. At the same time, green spaces also play an important role in Copenhagen’s ambition to be completely CO2 neutral by 2025.

Jernbanebyen: Copenhagen’s new district

To achieve this, Copenhagen is tackling its land reserves. For example, the disused New Goods Station, one of the last undeveloped industrial sites in the centre of Copenhagen. It was closed in 2000, after 99 years of operation, when the Danish railway DSB stopped its freight traffic. From 2009, DSB finally started renting out abandoned railway buildings to office communities, businesses and creative people. The area covers a total area of about 555 000 square metres, around 175 000 are still used by the Danish railways.

Together with the state-owned real estate developer Freja Ejendomme, Danish Railways now wants to develop part of the area into the urban district of Jernbanebyen (english: railway city). With the adoption of the kp19 urban development plan, nothing now stands in the way of this development. In November 2020, the two landowners DSB and Freja Ejendomme announced a master plan competition. Five interdisciplinary teams participated, including Snøhetta, BIG and SLA, Vandkunsten and Holscher Nordberg, WERK Arkitekter and COBE. All the teams are from Copenhagen and received a honorarium of 600 000 Danish kroner for their participation. The amount corresponds to about 80 700 euros or 95 250 US dollars.

Jernbanebyen: Copenhagen’s greenest district?

With their master plan for a green district, COBE Architects convinced the landowners DSB and Freja Ejendomme.

They delivered an ambitious design: Jernbanebyen is to become the greenest district in Copenhagen. The district should be car-free, green, healthy, sustainable, climate-conscious as well as innovative. At the same time, COBE wanted to deliver a robust, flexible and, above all, implementable master plan.

Five strategies for Jernbanebyen

To achieve this, COBE’s planners start with the green spaces. These are to determine the division and demarcation of the city districts.

Between the green open spaces, they weave the infrastructure: green streets, alleys and connections that are designed entirely for cyclists and pedestrians in car-free Jernbanebyen. COBE creates its own term for this: Infranature.

Between the green spaces and the infranature, COBE places punctual and local solutions (“beads”) to manage noise. These beads can be trellises of green facades, transparent screens, residential buildings with noise-protected corridors, strategically located car parks and commercial buildings, and more.

The district will be divided into six neighbourhoods, bounded by green spaces. They should be able to be developed individually and have their own character. In this way, Jernbanebyen can be completed in stages. At the same time, the district appeals to different population groups.

In addition, the master plan honours the history of the former industrial production site: COBE envisages that products will be developed, produced and sold locally in Jernbanebyen. The historic and listed workshops will be transformed into locations for creative businesses and start-ups.

COBE sees the connection to the surrounding neighbourhoods as a core issue. Only if this succeeds will Jernbanebyen be successful as part of Copenhagen. It should be done via a green delta that extends into the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Residential towers allow for larger green spaces

COBE’s master plan places green spaces at the top of the neighbourhood hierarchy. They are intended to structure and unify the neighbourhoods. To keep the proportion of green spaces as high as possible, COBE is planning five residential towers in the eastern part of Jernbanebyen with a height of 40 to 70 metres. They will help to lower the density. In general, many different housing typologies are to be found in the district: from terraced houses, townhouses and high-rise buildings to longhouses, extensions and conversions of existing buildings. However, their locations are not yet precisely defined to ensure the flexibility and feasibility of the master plan.

Interested in other news from Copenhagen? Check out the so-called “Cykelslangen” – the “Bicycle Snake” is a cycle superhighway that increases the ease and efficiency of daily commutes in the city.