Honestly – there are places in Copenhagen I never visit. Places which are nothing but a dot on my ride in the S-train when I travel from one place to another. Such a dot is Sydhavnen. As I recently had my fulltime job South to Copenhagen I passed through the S-station twice a day, but I never bothered to get out and discover what was on the other side of that platform.
However, this weekend was different. The City Link Festival had more than 50 events spread over the area of Copenhagen’s South Harbour. The main activity was the international Experimental Cities Conference hosted by Aalborg University Copenhagen with headquarter in the neighbourhood. But since conferences are quite expensive to attend it is not exactly fun for free – as interesting as it might be.
Thus, I decided to do as Henrik Cavling: Walk the streets and the stories will find the journalist.
High in spirit, but not really sure what to expect – this time I did get off at Sydhavnen station.
My first stop was Frederiksholm Church. On this occasion, the tower was transformed to a huge climbing wall – all the way to Heaven 🙂 It is not every day you see a church offering this kind of service. The young generation also seemed to be the bravest ones. Look at these cool climbers.
Next to the church a lot of the neighbours have put up a garage sale. They did not seem particulary interested in having their picture taken, so I decided to move on to this squarish box.
Like many other cities Copenhagen has its troubles with cloudbursts and heavy rain, especially during the Summer. One solution will be small gardens which are lowered into the ground, like this prototype at Scandiagade. City Link Festival invited for a walk and talk about the project.
It creates a great space for urban nature, biodiversity and at the same time the rainwater will be gathered at one place (up to 1500 square metres). The 8 gardens are developed in cooperation with the inhabitants in the area, meaning that all the gardens will have a very different look, but all of them will be a great place to meet your neighbour.
Speaking of water … It seemed like a good time for me to visit the harbour, since this is one of the most important places when it comes to urban innovation and design in Copenhagen.
Not much was happening at the time of my visit, though. You may notice the graffiti on the opposite wall, stating that this is not an area to be messed with; in spite of all efforts to transform former working-class areas into first class blocks for people with money. Sydhavnen is no exception to the rest of the city in that matter, which means that it makes perfectly good sense to share any experiences on new neighbourhoods and how they develop. I trust they had it on the agenda of the Experimental Cities Conference a short distance away.
Behind me was the most fantastic new flats with small front yards and close view to the water. But since I do not wish to photograph into private homes without permission, you can only imagine. And take a look at the working crane which is a very common sight in Copenhagen by now.
As I returned to the high street this beautiful wall of street art caught my eyes (and my lens).
In Danish the text says: “Have a break, enjoy the city”
Curiously enough, enjoying the city is what I do all the time … when I have a break or when I am working, like with this blog. But since it was time for a break, I decided to pay the hub and host of City Link Festival a visit.
In the yard I was met by nice people, free fruit and art. Unfortunately, the exhibition was no friend of my camera – it would simply not be a worthy reproduction in still photos. Instead I give you a view from the cosy yard.
The guide at the hub told me about another fun piece of art; the artist collective Robosexi has collected items from the inhabitants in Sydhavnen. Things that they did not use anymore, but could be recycled for art. All the items were turned into small time capsules to teach us something about the time that we live in – or have lived in. But there was also a challenge … You need to find the capsules before you can see them. In the pavement, walls and other places around the hub and Sydhavnsgade.
They were not easy to find! I did manage to find a few (or at least I think I did).
How about these old books? They would not normally grow in roadside trees and the do tell a story of a time before the internet, when everything has to be looked up in a much-used book on your shelf.
I am not sure whether this is art or just trash? I found it in a bush near the S-train station.
I do not know the intention of this hidden art. But it made me see art everywhere, even when there is probably no art at all. And it also made me think of all the traces we leave behind, either as thrash or something we just place in our home as a statement of the time we live in. How fast one generation’s treasure becomes the next generation’s trash to become the third generation’s recycled retro-treasure. Maybe that was the intention?
As I was going back home I realised that I was happy to discover a new part of the city. Another part than the one I see all the time. I took my time to make that extra stop to an unknown platform at my regular ride. Now it is your turn – who knows what you might find of fun for free?
The City Link Festival is now over. However, there is still inspiration to find in their programme for tours, talks and meeting a friendly unknown neighbourhood. For free.