An urbanist’s Vestegnen (plus Greve)

Copenhagen’s Vestegnen is a perlerække of ?nine suburban councils laid out in a sort of checker board like post-colonial African states, divided by wide roads and, increasingly, by motorways and railways, with the coming letbane the cherry on the cake.

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

The Finger Plan has dictated the geography of the area – time for a rethink (a success, really?)? 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.

Housing: some Corb style 24 hour settlements, but others intended for a working population: Vallensbæk? 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.

A-z:

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):
    • Albertslund: 264.428 kr.
    • Brøndby: 263.406 kr.
    • Glostrup: 292.944 kr.
    • Hvidovre: 285.892 kr.
    • Høje-Taastrup: 285.505 kr.
    • Ishøj: 260.320 kr.
    • Rødovre: 283.044 kr.
    • Vallensbæk: 326.558 kr.

Timeline:

  • 1966: Rødovre Centrum built, at the time the largest covered shopping centre in northern Europe, opened by Aage Knudsen (1903-89), a gardner who owned the land where the centre was built
  • 1967: first trees planted in new state forest Vestskoven (guide | take your dog to Vestskoven | 50th anniversary) after being under debate for years; inc artficial Oxbjerget (35m, created in 1968; a splendid off-leash area, which Mylo would escape from in minutes, so we don’t go there any more); largest green space in area
  • 1972: first stage of the Køge Bugt S-tog line between København and Vallensbæk built
  • 1980: Strandparken opened, a 7km long beach and dune landscape running from Avedøre Holme to Greve Strand, inc four marinas (blog post)
  • 1996: Arken opened (Ishøj)

Albertslund:

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
  • 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; Buernes By)

Stationsbyen Høje Taastrup: more radical town planning, in this case the reinvention of the classic Danish town in a postmodern way, sadly a bit of a ghost town, with an about-turn in the case of Nærheden:

Ishøj: Thorsbro Vandværk | Tranegilde Landsby

Rødovre: local history | architectural profile | housing (2006 | 2001) | public artstationvillage

  • Carlsro (1952-53 by Hoff & Windinge, 1957-58; housing association): tower block with collective facilities by Arne Jacobsen
  • Damhusparken
  • Nyager Skole (1964) by Arne Jacobsen, at Ejbyvej 100
  • Rødovre Parkvej (1959): eight model houses constructed by Iversen & Plum for Sparekassen for Kjøbenhavn og Omegns 1957 housebuilding competition
  • Rødovre Stationscenter: burnt down 3 October 2013; 5K m2 space; latest wheeze (again | again)
  • 1950s housing | listed building from 1778! to be torn down (Viemosevej 18)
  • same issues with illegal settlements as Hvidovre, but settled them internally; felt itself a bit of a cut above, better educated, a little snobby – hired an international architect to build its town hall

Vallensbæk (photos): walks: village | DIAS Kunsthal

Greve (photos; Wikipedia; Visit Greve):