An urbanist’s Vestegnen (plus Greve)

Copenhagen’s Vestegnen is a perlerække of eight suburban kommuner laid out in a sort of checker board formation like post-colonial African states, divided by wide roads and, increasingly, by motorways and railways, with the coming letbane (runs north:south folks!) the cherry on the cake.

New: the Historisk Atlas theme on Historier om Danmark includes tours on Vestvolden and Tunestillingen

Map: Berlingske | Vestegnens Politi

The kommuner can be divvied up in several ways:

  • east:west in north:south pairs: Rødovre & Hvidovre | Glostrup & Brøndby | Albertslund & Vallensbæk | Høje-Taastrup & Ishøj
  • by Finger/S tog line:
    • A: Åmarken, Friheden and Avedøre (Hvidovre), Brøndby Strand, Vallensbæk, Ishøj (then Hundige, Greve, Karlslunde)
    • B: Rodovre, Brondby, Glostrup, Albertslund, Hoje-Taastrup

Note that Brøndby straddles the fingers. Below I’ve gone for a simple a-z of the kommuner I know least well, with separate pages for Brøndby, Rødovre and my ‘home’ kommune of Hvidovre.

The 1947 Finger Plan divided the western environs of Copenhagen into five development ‘fingers’ along S tog lines separated by green wedges. The two Vestegnen councils closest to Copenhagen, Hvidovre and Rødovre, pre-date the plan, with most of their development taking place up to the 1950s, and can be seen as a rather lost bit between the thumb and forefinger – although Hvidovre is at least on the Matador board.

The plan has dictated the geography of the area – time for a rethink? Funneling everything into CPH is not a great model. There is little connection between the fingers, and social indicators worsen the further down the fingers you go – bring on the letbane! Plus the pockets of green between the fingers have been progressively hemmed in by development (a particular shocker is Det Grønne Kile, a green wedge – and functionless edgeland – sandwiched between a total of four motorways, in the middle of nowhere until you stop and listen to the ubiquitous traffic noise. Some manmade hills to the south; skov planted in 1975, used by Brøndby Golfklub.

OTOH it is a region of sorts, with an increasing number of joint activities. After folkeskolen students may well attend a gymnasium/HF facility in a neighbouring kommune, not least because some are so small they have no gymnasium.

Housing: some Corb style 24 hour settlements, but others intended for a working population – they are not mixed developments. Cultural heritage is pretty thin on the ground here, although the kommuner do their best. Plus, the Danish take on placemaking can result in places so unchallenging they are almost invisible to all but their inhabitants, almost non-places.

Are times maybe changing? Kraks Fonds Byforskning’s latest report finds Vestegnen top of Denmark’s inward investment league, due to its relatively low housing costs coupled with proximity to the ]cosmopolitan’ capital.


  • architecture: Velfærdsdrømme (Brøndby and Hvidovre)
  • beaches: Strandparken (opened in 1980 by Anker Jørgensen (pic) | see GKL road trip)
  • ferries: the Langebro to Køge ferry; in the summer pleasure boats sailed from Hvidovre Havn to Dragør at the foot of Amager and down the coast to Køge until 1955; from 1928-32 Strandgreven (see pic) sailed from Langebro via Hvidovre (15 mins) to Greve (hence the name) and in some cases the whole way to Køge. It had a capacity of 175, and sailed five days a week during the summer.
  • (down?)  – 2014 site, aimed at schools
  • Køge Bugt på banen and podride transcript – cultural history on the A S-tog line
  • Loop City – optimistic venture aimed at developing the area around the O3 motorway and the forthcoming light rail
  • festivals: Vestegnens Kulturuge (2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016)
  • local paper: Søndagsavisen: Vestegnen
  • model: S tog with shopping centre, library and cultural centre attached, with an old village (or two) somewhere off centre
  • motorways: Køge Bugt motorway (E20; south) | Holbækmotorvejen (north) | Køge Bugt Motorvejen.
  • museums: 1996: Arken (opened 1996; see under Ishøj) | DIAS (FB; opened 2014 in Vallensbæk Station; Superflex & again) | Kroppedal
  • nature: area per kommune (Hvidovre; 16.57%; Vestegnen average: 21.24%, DK average: 25%)
  • paths: Vestegnensruten
  • photos: Flickr collection | Tor Birk Trads
  • public art: Thomas Dambo’s Forgotten giants (now with vid)
  • railways:
    • S tog Line A: the newest of the six radial lines, and the only one built as an S tog line
      • built in four stages: CPH to Vallensbæk (1972), extended to Hundige (1976), extended to Solrød Strand (1979), extended to Køge (1983)
      • originally conceived as a ‘picnic railway’ providing access to Strandparken, but transporting commuters quickly became more important
      • podride: the A line to Køge
    • Ringstedbanen (2018? Wikipedia): Vigerslev to Vallensbæk; in Greve and Ishøj prefabricated concrete elements and reinforced soil have been used to accommodate the railway creating a new landscape (pics; see also Brøndby | Hvidovre)
      • parallel to S tog line A; a stop at a new station (Køge Nord?) between Ølby and Køge is planned to serve as an exchange point
    • Vestbanen
  • rivers
    • Store Vejleå – flows from Porsemosen to Køge Bugt, forming the border between Høje Taastrup/Ishøj and Albertslund/Vallensbæk
    • Liile Vejleå – today just a baek, but once it was navigable, with 10 springs supplying water to the nearby area
  • roads:
    • Gammel Køge Landevej
    • Roskildevej
  • tourism: Visit Vestegnen (based in Ishøj)
  • Vestskoven: after being under debate for years, 1967 saw the first trees planted in the 1400 hectare new state forest (50th anniversary):
    • Oxbjerget: 35m high artificial hill created in 1968, with a large dogs off-leash area
    • Vikingebro: Vikingelandsbyen/Kroppedal project to build a 100m reconstruction of a Viking bridge
  • Vestvolden
  • WW2: Besættelsen på Vestegnen | Modstandsfolk

Basic indicators:

  • population:
    • c250K, 25% indvandrere and efterkommer giving an average size of…Danish scale councils
    • by ancestry: Danish: 201,199, indvandrere: 37,411, efterkommere: 20,607
    • by household type: couples: 53,744, single: 54,080, multi-family: 9,731
  • average income (2012) | nr of detached/terraced houses (2017):
    • Albertslund: 264.428 kr. | 3552
    • Brøndby: 263.406 kr. | 4533
    • Glostrup: 292.944 kr. | 3051
    • Hvidovre: 285.892 kr. | 8150
    • Høje-Taastrup: 285.505 kr. | 8407
    • Rødovre: 283.044 kr. (pop: 38.5K) | 5183
  • nr of detached/terraced houses (2017:
    • Greve: 12,517
    • Ishøj: 3008
    • Solrød: 6023
    • Vallensbæk: 3546

Albertslund (post | Flickr):

Glostrup (photos):

  • west of Rødovre, north of Brøndby, ie northwest of Hvidovre…Vestvolden marks border with Rødovre, where Roskildevej becomes Hovedvej; an important node in the network of motorways around CPH
  • village of Glostrup, named after its founder Glob, established between 1000 and 1197; 1682: eight farms and 13 houses; municipality established in 1841, ranking as a parish municipality (sognekommune) until 1950 when its status was changed to town municipality (købstadskommune); from 1947 to 1960 the population doubled
  • not dominated by public housing – housing mix is average for Denmark; public housing built around the hospital and Stationsby in the exclave of Avedøre; housing less tæt than the modern fashion
    • Solvangsparken (1946): around Solvangsvej and Egevej, houses from the 1930s-50s, with a view to the hospital
  • local history (films): good info stands around town – lær din by at kende
  • modernism: inc Bikuben Bank (former, 1955, by Svenn Eske Kristensen), see tour for more
  • motel: Glostrup Park Hotel (1967), former Esso motel
  • paths: Glostrup – see Oplev Glostrup; includes a kunstrute
  • shopping centre: refurbished, with the aim of creating a bymidte
  • station: opened 1847 on Denmark’s first railway running from CPH to Roskilde; 1918 station built by Heinrich Venck, with the S tog arriving in 1953; Irma coffee sign outside??
  • Villa Kram: lavenergibyggeri designed by architect couple for themselves
  • walks inc art route

Høje-Taastrup (Wikipedia):

  • kloverstier | SkulpturGuide | tourism (pix and stories) | Oplev Høje-Taastrup)
  • place names:  attests how ancient the area is, despite appearances; 12th/13th century names
    • Herstedvester = Herstædæ wæstræ, from the name Hæri and stath meaning grund for bebyggelse
    • Ledøje = Lethøfthæ, from the old Danish words for vej (leth) and højtliggende fremspring (høfthi); ie the village at the vej-højning
    • Vridsløsemagle = Wrytzløsæmaglæ, from writh (vridning) and løsa (engdrag), describing the village’s location in a valley with good grazing opportunities; magle means big (ie major)
  • City 2 (1975) & Copenhagen Designer Outlet
  • Copenhagen Markets
  • Hedehusene: built around unlicensed inns (smugkroer)
  • Hedeland
  • Høje Taastrup (architecture; Buernes By): radical town planning (1): the reinvention of the classic Danish town in a postmodern way, built 1978-86, but sadly a bit of a ghost town
  • Nærheden (Hedehusene; Realdania | At Bo podcast | apologia; Arkitema): radical town planning (2); projected pop: 8K: “Endeløse rækker af parcelhuse og højhuse med store, tomme arealer imellem skal man kigge langt efter i Nærheden. Her mener man nemlig, at fremtidens forstad skal være grøn, tæt, lav og med gode kår for fællesskabet og det nemme hverdagsliv.”
    • the suburb of the future? small houses targeted at local OAPs and families from CPH with small children; no almene boliger, too expensive for people on kontanthjælp (so not really mirroring the diversity of a ‘real’ city, which can’t be created)
    • variation in tenure, but just for “people like us”, Denmark’s big middle class
    • no double carports (19 car parks) or on-street parking taking up space, cellars or hobby rooms, to encourage residents to use the collective facilities
    • lys og luft no longer valued – but that’s what people like, and what they choose to build; this is just as top down as a 1950s idea of utopia
    • near Hedehusene Station and Hedeland, a former industrial area the size of 100 football pitches; among the plans are a new science school in cooperation with LEGO Education and green areas with byhaver, udekøkkener and a parkstrøg called Loopet, all aimed at supporting fællesskab
    • the 2018 series of TV2’s lifestyle programme Nybyggerne is taking place in Nærheden
  • Taastrup (Wikipedia):
    • 1786: road to Køge laid; Taastrup Hovedgade was on the original GKL and named Køgevej until 2006
    • DK’s oldest station town, established in 1847 on the first railway between CPH and Roskilde (history; Heinrich Wenck station demolished 1979); perhaps DK’s first ‘provincial’ town; pop: 34K
    • Taastrupgaard: museum (story) at Taastrupgårdsvej 99, on the 1970s estate, a former ‘ghetto’, parts of which are shortly to be demolished, in operation from 1 May 2018

Ishøj (Wikipedia): diverse population (22.7K), lowest income per capita (kommune | Wikipedia)

Vallensbæk (photos): smallest (pop: 15.7K), richest, and, unusually for the area, votes Conservative (kommune):

  • long and narrow (map), hence has borders to five of the other Vestegenen kommuner; the 1970s part (Strand) lies to the south, with the old village (a traditional landsby with a gadekær and two churches) in the centre and older areas of detached housing bordering Albertslund to the north (Nordmark)
  • walks (kløverstier | leaflet | map | kommune)
  • the area also boasts a sø, a mose (home to Thomas Dambo’s Little Tilde) and a strand/marina

And finally…Greve (mapphotos). Just over the border from Ishøj in Region Sjælland rather than Hovedstaden, home to Strandparken’s most westerly marina at Hundige, what is now Greve kommune followed much the same development pattern as the other kommuner on the Køge Bugt finger. Votes Venstre/Conservative.

Subsuming six old villages (Greve, Hundige, Karlslunde, Kildebrønde, Mosede and Tune), Greve kommune comprises a sprawling landscape of detached villas in neat rows, in particular along Greve Strand (takes in Hundige, Mosede Strand and Karlslunde).

Some social housing in Hundige, built on the familiar pattern of an S tog with shopping centre, library and cultural centre attached, in the 1960s increased prosperity made it possible for people to buy their own homes, while the 1970s were the boom years of social housing; see Sort land by Ahmad Mahmoud, about growing up in Askerød. Shopping concentrated in station centres, not least Waves in Hundige, with Portalen in Greve the main cultural centre.

Greve Museum (app) has a permanent exhibition about the development of the area.

Architectural and cultural heritage:

  • Greve Svømmehal – Denmark’s biggest swimming pool, built in the form of a pyramid in 1978
  • churches: Hundige (1976) | Mosede (1978)
  • WW1: Mosede Fort