Wonderful Copenhagen
Copenhagen's hidden savannah - Kalvebod Fælled

Ørestad – Urban nature and world class architechture

5/3/2021

Ørestad is where Copenhagen’s urban jungle meets its savannah. A 3-sq.-km city within the city, built since the late 1990s, Ørestad is blessed with bountiful nature, cutting-edge architecture, and a growing gastronomic scene – making it one of the Danish capital’s best-kept secrets.

Envision the Danish capital and what typically comes to mind are its colourful medieval streets, its picture-perfect harbour, and its trendsetting neighbourhoods such as Vesterbro and Nørrebro - but don’t forget Ørestad. Blessed with world-class architecture, stunning nature, cutting-edge examples of sustainable living, and an increasingly exciting food scene, Copenhagen’s city-within-the-city may be its best-kept secret. Built on former marshland – and in less than 20 years - this urban district continues to evolve and wow its residents as well as those visiting. Here are the facts:

Milestones

  • In 1998, the first construction project in Ørestad City begins.
  • In 2002, the metro opens – by 2008, Ørestad station is Denmark's fifth largest station, measured by passengers.
  • In 2004, Ørestad’s first residents move into Karen Blixen Parken in Ørestad Nord.
  • The same year, the Field’s shopping mall opens in Ørestad City
  • In 2006, Danish Broadcasting Corporation giant DR moves into Ørestad North.
  • In 2010, the 8 House – designed by star architect Bjarke Ingels – opens in Ørestad South.
  • In 2016, the Royal Arena opens in Ørestad South.
  • 2018 - the Bellakvarter by COBE and Vilhelm Larsen architects shoots up around the Bella Center Copenhagen

Facts

  • Ørestad covers just 3.1 km2 — less than a tenth of the size of the nature reserve it sits alongside.
  • In 2004, Ørestad had just 100 residents. Today, it’s home to more than 21,000 people – as well as more than a thousand cows (in summer), about 400 fallow deer, and 300-plus species of migrating and breeding birds on Kalvebod Fælled.
  • More than half of Ørestad’s (human) residents are aged between 20 and 39.
  • Since 2010, the number of residential properties in Ørestad has tripled – to more than 15,000.
  • The praised Ørestad Gymnasium is Denmark's first 100% digital high school.
  • More than 20.000 students and 20.000 employees pass through the Ørestad area on a daily basis
  • On a scale of 1–10, residents rate their satisfaction with living in Ørestad as 8.8.

Why go

Many of its buildings are Instagram-worthy architectural masterpieces designed by world-famous architects like Bjarke Ingels (Mountain Dwellings, VM Houses, 8 House), Norman Foster (Copenhagen Towers) and Jean Nouvel (DR Koncerthuset), as well as by leading Danish firms such as Lundgaard & Tranberg (Tietgenkollegiet). In particular, Ørestad is a place to see cutting-edge sustainable architecture such as buildings made from “upcycled” materials.

Ørestad also boasts an abundance of nature. It’s situated alongside a 3,500 hectare nature reserve that includes a savannah, dense woods and salt marshes. Here, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as biking and birdwatching, and even spend the night under the stars in a tent or forest shelter.

Ørestad on Amager
Ørestad on Amager

Why go now

Ørestad is flourishing, with bars, cafés, restaurants, and exhibition spaces opening almost daily. It’s also tailor-made for sustainable tourism. As an unheralded, off-the-beaten-track for most visitors to Copenhagen, Ørestad should appeal to those who want to make broader use of – and have a positive impact on – the Danish capital. 

What to do

Five must-see buildings

Tietgenkollegiet
Located on Copenhagen University’s southern campus, these award-winning halls of residence house almost 400 students. The building's circular design is the hallmark of the acclaimed Danish architects Lundgaard & Tranberg and was inspired by traditional southern Chinese architecture.

DR Koncerthuset
Designed by the acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel and completed in 2009, the 1,800-seat DR Concert Hall is one of Denmark's architectural and cultural showpieces. Try to catch a concert if you can: the building’s world-class acoustics match its eye-catching looks.

Mountain Dwellings
Designed by BIG – star architect Bjarke Ingels’ firm – this 11-storey building was inspired by a hillside village. Apartments are stacked up the side of its “north face” like rice paddies—above a 650-vehicle garage – with the roof of one apartment providing a unique green space for the one above it.

8-Tallet / The 8 House
Another BIG building, the iconic 8 House couldn’t be more Instagram-friendly. Shaped like a figure of eight, it houses more than 400 apartments and commercial units, all connected via a kilometre-long path that winds all the way to the top – providing spectacular views of Kalvebod Fælled.

Upcycle Studios
Nothing typifies the future of Danish housing – nor how sustainability-minded Ørestad is – quite like this row of 20 townhouses. Built using waste materials that were otherwise destined for landfill or the incinerator, the townhouses can be used as both a home and an office, workshop or retail space.

More inspiration on what to see and do right here

Ørestad the spot for new and rule-bending architecture

Where to eat

  • organic pastries at café and farm shop COBRAcph 
  • traditional open-face sandwiches at café 8-Tallet
  • breakfast and lunch at right on the front-row to 2000 hectares of wild nature, at Traktørstedet Vestamager
  • natural wine at Thorsteinssons 
  • hand-brewed coffee at sustainability-minded café Orango
  • vegan gelato at Moo Moo Isbar 

Where to stay

How to get there

Take the M1 line to any of the metro stations south of Islands Brygge.

Ørestad on Amager
Ørestad on Amager

In depth article

Picture the Danish capital and what typically comes to mind are its colourful medieval streets, its picture-perfect harbour, and its trendsetting neighbourhoods such as Vesterbro and Nørrebro - but don’t forget Ørestad. 

by James Clasper