Every day, 300 trucks bring garbage to the city’s power plant, turning garbage into something useful: heat for the city’s long, cold winters. Copenhagen prides itself as being a model city for sustainable and healthy solutions. They have made the goal to become carbon neutral by 2025 and have reduced their emissions by 42% from 2005. Others are learning from Copenhagen’s initiatives as they hosted the 2019 C40 World Mayors Summit where city mayors, city delegates, climate experts, influencers, and business leaders met to discuss innovative, influential, and solution inspire solutions to combat climate change. There are over 90 cities in the C40 group, including 12 cities in the United States.
Turning garbage to fuel
As part of Copenhagen’s efforts to fight climate change are initiatives to put most residents less than half a mile from a station. While saving resources, such initiatives also provide equity of access to all city residents.
Providing access to public transportation
Night-time lighting is important for security and safety. Overdoing it however, can be as bad as not enough lighting. In the Norrebro neighborhood, one of the city’s most diverse and lower-income areas, a combination of over the street with entry lighting creates a sense of orientation for both pedestrians and drivers.
Places to sit and rest can be found throughout the city, which emphasizes the city’s attention to people’s needs. Whether for visitors or residents, seating along streets encourages people to be out and about while having a place to take a break, stop and people-watch, or socialize. Seating arrangements range from publicly-provided benches to store-provided seating.
Seating areas everywhere
Close to 70% of housing in Denmark is within a cooperative housing scheme. Anyone buying a house or an apartment pays for the right to use that unit, and their payment covers a share of the wealth of the cooperative itself. The tax structure is designed to keep these units affordable, protecting the residents financially and from homelessness. As people across the socio-economic spectrum can be sharing a co-op, connections can be built between retired workers, young students, doctors, policemen, artists, and so on. Co-operative housing can be found everywhere in the city.
Trust is one of the indicators measured by the World Happiness Report that ranks 156 countries by how happy their citizens perceive themselves to be. Trust is built through values such as the fact that citizens are encouraged to speak up when they witness something that is not okay. At the same time, the built environment also communicates trust. Take for example, the metro which trusts passengers for paying their fees and therefore, lacks the typical security measures such as the turnstile access control. If caught for not having purchased a ticket though, the fine is steep. Another indicator of the Danish etiquette for being respectful for others’ individual needs is that metro trains include a quiet section—similar to those in the libraries—where passengers need to be mindful of the noises they make. And, during major events sponsored in the city, the metro is free to increase accessibility.
BloxHub is a collaborative environment that allows companies of small and large scale to share the same space and work together to devise responses to challenges of global urbanizations and climate change. BloxHub includes the Danish Architecture Center which helps establish Denmark’s relevance to urban planning and design, enabling them to innovate by embracing trial-and-error practices.
For much of its history, Denmark has been pretty homogeneous and in 2019, 90% the population had Danish ancestry. With immigrant communities growing, Danish policy makers have made many controversial decisions, such as planning to relocate “unwanted” immigrants to an isolated island and red-lining low-income immigrant areas as “ghettos”. Areas with at least 1,000 residents can be marked as ghetto when two of the following descriptions are met: having at least 50% immigrants from non-Western countries, at least 40% unemployment, and at least 2.7% criminal convictions. This label generates stigma against people living in these areas, furthering stereotypes. With one of Copenhagen’s most iconic and most photographed parks located next to the diverse neighborhood of Norrebro, Superkilen Park, the perception of what constitutes a healthy and connected community can change.
Close to 62% of Copenhagen’s residents commute by bike and the city’s infrastructure, from streets with bike lanes and places to park bikes and shower after a bike ride (like at DIS) are supporting this lifestyle. Biking has many health advantages, has shown positive association with academic performance, as well as economic benefits from reduced healthcare costs. Children in Copenhagen learn to bike as toddlers and use parks to sharpen their skills.
Benefits of Biking
In one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods, Norrebro, the streets transform into impromptu shops by residents who are trying to sell some of their belongings. Enabling people to claim space in such a way, instills in residents a sense of belonging in the city and safeguards economic opportunity.
Impromptu uses of public spaces