Sustainability in Copenhagen
Considered one of the most sustainable cities in the world, Copenhagen has in total 546 km of bicycle paths, a fleet of electric harbour ferries and a...
Copenhagen’s harbour has always played a central role in the city, reflecting its spirit. Once a fishermen’s and merchants’ port, it since evolved into an industrial dock before transforming into a cultural and recreative space.
Over the past 25 years, the city of Copenhagen has taken measures that have resulted in the improvement of the water quality of its former industrial harbour, turning it into today’s recreational harbour with watersports such as swimming, kayaking, rowing and stand-up-paddling, as well as urban farming and fishing, with organisations such as Havhøst growing Danish oysters and mussels inside the harbour. In June 2021, Copenhagen also installed its first biohuts in the harbour. The biohuts protect fish in a vulnerable stage of their life cycle and contribute to increasing the population and creating a better harbour environment.
The harbour front has been kept open for public access, and it’s possible to walk or cycle around the entire harbour basin, crossing the many bike bridges on your way.
Among the various initiatives, dedicated underground basins have been introduced that retain wastewater so that in the event of excessive rainfall, it is not discharged into the port, but is retained so that it can later be discharged into the sewers. The basins can hold 260,000 m3 of wastewater, which is equivalent to 111 Olympic-sized swimming pools (50m).
The water in the port of Copenhagen has become so clean that it is suitable for swimming. Bathing takes place in the three wooden port pools called harbour baths by the Danish architecture firm Bjarke Ingels Group in six confined areas delimited by buoys called “swimming zones”, and at an urban beach, all extremely popular with local residents and tourists. The first harbour bath was designed by PLOT, a studio that included the now-famous Danish architect Bjarke Ingels.
This new condition of the old industrial harbour has led to the birth of new initiatives and ecosystems, which have turned the harbour into a new lively urban space designed for life. For instance, the floating student residences Urban Rigger, placed in the water to solve the lack of space for new student housing, kayak rentals and clubs, stand-up paddling, cliff-diving competitions from the Opera house’s rooftop, solar-energy powered boats to explore the canals, wakeboard, and jacuzzi powered by seawater overlooking the city. It is no coincidence that Copenhagen was declared the best bathing city in the world by CNN in 2019.
Sydhavn, used to be focused on heavy industry and container ships. Now, it is a booming residential area with canals in the district of Sluseholmen, innovative use of old buildings, such as Gemini Residence, with silos converted into modern apartments, and communities into nature, such as Nokken and Musikbyen.
Experience first-hand how a focus on harbour development turned Copenhagen into a recreational, cultural part of the city.
The Copenhagen canals are packed with creative and interesting initiatives. From entertaining and wellness experiences to harbour festivities and competitions.