An urbanist’s Rødovre

Last updated: 17 June 2017

Rødovre and Hvidovre come as a toponymic pair, both transformed from village to suburb between 1910 and 1950. With similar issues around illegal settlements after WW1, Rødovre chose to settle them internally, and became the poster child for the cradle to grave velfærdsamfund.

Predating the 1947 Finger Plan and largely built up by the 1960s, Rødovre is on the index finger and S-tog line B along with Brøndby, Glostrup, Albertslund and Hoje-Taastrup, in continuous, and increasingly suburban, sprawl, spreading like an inkblot westwards down Roskildevej.

Looking the other way, situated on the road into Frederiksberg and just west of the fleshpots of Copenhagen, Rødovre felt itself a bit of a cut above, better educated, a little snobby – and even hired an international architect to build its town hall. All in all, well placed to attract overspill, if not on most Copenhageners’ mental map.

See Damhustorvet, a translation from Her er DKand my Flickr album for more.

Some Rødovre highlights…

The kommune competes with Gentofte for the prize of municipality with the most buildings designed by Arne Jacobsen, including the town hall and the main library, two housing developments and a school.

The duck-shaped Damhussøen, an artificial lake-cum-reservoir created in the Middle Ages when a dam was built on Harrestrup Å, lies within Copenhagen, but the path along its western bank and the nearby meadow abut Rødovre, which also lays claim to Damhuskroen, an old inn on Roskildevej dating back to the early 17th century (locally listed at level 3).

A-z:

  • architectural and cultural heritage: report (2011, 96 page PDF):
    • summer 2017 toponym challenge (requires magnifying glass)
    • Søtorp (1902-05): 44 houses built by a haveboligforening along Søtorpvej between Damhussøen and Veronikavej, the first development in the kommune
    • Hendriksholm (former manor house): houses in diverse styles built mainly in the 1930s along Damhus Boulevard between Damhustorvet and the station, based on a 1918 plan
    • Damparken (1931-43): low rise apartment blocks in funkis style, freestanding and facing the sun; the first in Denmark
    • Kålormen (1928): terrace by Thorkild Henningsen on Padborgvej, with a second version on Hvidovrevej (1933)
  • borders (map): Vestvolden to the west (partly), Harrestrup Å to the east (mainly), railway to the south (broadly)
    • split from Brønshøj-Rødovre sogn (parish), which also included Vanløse, in 1901
    • swallowed up the old village of Islev to the far north
  • burial mounds: Valhøj
  • churches: Rødovre Kirke (1664) | Grøndalslund Kirke (1952) | Islev Kirke (1970)
  • cultural centre: Viften (1989)
  • housing:
    • around 50% social housing, much managed by Rødovre almennyttige Boligselskab
    • Islevvænge (1951): estate of small terraced houses by Arne Jacobsen with characteristic tall chimneys, lys og luft, some with direct access to Vestvolden
    • Carlsro: 600 small terraced houses by Hoff & Windinge (1951-53) and Langhuset (1957-58), eight storey tower block with collective facilities by a group including Arne Jacobsen, at 240m long at the time the longest building in Denmark; a Corb-style by i byen
    • Milestedet (1953-56; aka Kærene): by Gunnar Milthers; nine prefab concrete blocks (10-15 storeys) and some small three storey blocks laid out in traditional courtyard style (2500 apartments in total), straddling the border with Brøndby south of Roskildevej
      • Agerkær and Ruskær torn down in 2012 due to their vulnerability in strong winds (storyvid)
    • Bybjerget (1956): three blocks up to eight storeys at Brandholms Alle 8/Valhøjs Alle 43-115
    • Rødovre Parkvej (1959): eight model houses constructed by Iversen & Plum for Sparekassen for Kjøbenhavn og Omegn’s 1957 housebuilding competition
    • Ved Rådhuset (1959)
    • Titusparken (1985) | Sibeliusparken (1986/1994)
    • DamhusParken (2018?): 45 exclusive apartments and town houses by Gröning Arkitekter on ground formerly occupied by Damhus Tivoli at Auroravej 4-10 (another case where locals objected to height and density)
    • IrmaByen: new development (1000 homes) by Gröning Arkitekter on the grounds of supermarket chain Irma’s former head office, anchored by Kaffetårnet (1968); at its height provided employment for 700
  • libraries: Hovedbibliotek (1969, by Arne Jacobsen)
  • local: Lokal Historisk Samling (FB; stories) | Rødovre Lokal Nyt
  • museums:
    • Heerup Museum (2000, by Bernd Kjelland), a (not large) museum in Rødovregaard, the only surviving manor house in the old village; dedicated to the work of painter Henry Heerup (1907-93), who lived on Kampstrupvej from 1946; CoBrA member from 1949
    • Vestvolden (see below)
  • public art: and Thomas Dambo’s Sleeping Louis
  • roads: Roskildevej, Jyllingevej & Slotsherrensvej (east:west) | Rødovrevej & Tårnvej (north:south)
    • motorways: the E47 (Motorring 3) hugs the Vestvolden border to the west, cutting across the north of the kommune; less blight than some
  • schools: Nyager Skole (1964, by Arne Jacobsen) | Rødovre Skole (established 1749)
  • shopping centres:
    • Rødovre Centrum: Denmark’s first shopping centre, the brainchild of Aage Knudsen (1903-89), a gardener who owned the land where the centre was built, opened in 1966 and was at the time the largest covered shopping centre in northern Europe; left the old village in the lurch and put an end to Roskildevej as a shopping street; notable for its public art
    • Rødovre Stationscenter (Rødovre Port): the 1960s shopping centre burnt down in October 2013; at one point two skyscrapers were mooted for the site at the Avedørehavnevej and Roskildevvej crossroads; now we’re up to three (14, 16 and 19 storeys), plus hotel, offices…
  • station: Rødovre Station (1964) is only 1 km from Hvidovre Station and a few metres from the kommune boundary; notable for its elevated westbound track – passengers travelling to Copenhagen get street level access, while those on the way home need only descend the stairs
    • bypassed by the main line to Roskilde
  • swimming pools: Vestbad (1958; pics): open air pool/lido by Rødovre’s city architect BT Lorentzen and landscape architect C Th Sørensen, the first in Denmark, opened in conjunction with Brøndby; being renovated for DK 70 million 2016-18; may be listed
    • an indoor pool opened in 1970
  • town hall: Rødovre Rådhus (1956, by Arne Jacobsen)
  • Vestvolden: part of a 14km fortification constructed from 1886 to 1902, closed in 1922 and developed progressively as a recreational area since the 1960s; see Vandringsløse Tidende for full details of the fortifications within Rødovre
    • Oplevelsescenter: ‘experience centre’ offering mainly child-oriented exhibitions and activities
    • Ejbybunkeren: control centre for the Danish Air Force from 1954 to 1971, finally closing in 2001 and re-opening as an ‘experience centre’ in 2012; see also Subterramania’s 2010 performance in the bunker
    • Artillerimagasinet: only one of the original nine still standing
    • 14 further projects underway, inc De To Porte and cykeludfordringsbaner (cycling challenge courses)
    • Krigshistorisk Festival (FB): 2000 years of military history presented as a 1200m timeline along the vold, nice idea (17-18 June 2017)
  • villages: Rødovre landsby, to the far south of the kommune, was the subject of a DK 7.3 million renovation project, including the establishment of Heerups Plads, in 2011 (story)
  • water: Rødovre water tower (1927) | Islev Vandvaerk (1926)