Copenhagen: Most Liveable City
The London based international affairs magazine ‘Monocle’ has this month granted Copenhagen a double whammy of prestigious titles, ‘Most liveable city’ and ‘Best quality of life for 2013,’ ahead of rival cities such as Melbourne, Vienna and Scandinavian brother Helsinki to surely boost local bragging rights.
But what makes this city of just over 1.2 million inhabitants so liveable and how is such a high quality of life ensured?
At a first glance the answer could simply be due to the vast numbers of stereotypically good-looking Danes that fill the numerous parks and public spaces of inner Copenhagen every summer! But dig a little deeper and it can be found that this city has worked hard to ensure its citizens live and work in an environment that caters to their needs before anything else.
Human needs at the heart of planning
Intelligent, human centric planning has been a key factor in ‘humanising’ the city. Since the pioneering rejection of the car culture in the 1960’s, central government and local municipalities have collaborated to create a set of visions for the city, each based on sustainable values that recognise the influence of the built environment on the way people live. It is this principle that has helped shape city infrastructure and space in an effort to cater for all. Consequent projects, such as the world-renowned bicycle network reflect this approach. With ‘people orientated’ values at the core of planning, it is not only the everyday lives of local citizens that are enhanced but also the city’s attractive reputation as an inclusive city.
Creating space for experiences – Creating Community
Democratic design and a drive to conserve the ‘Green and Blue’ city, referring to the city’s parks and water, has helped to both preserve and create spaces that promote a sense of community within the city. This collective feeling is being embraced by citizens young an old, who are now keen to showcase their city. Cultural events and experiences are packed into the annual calendar with festivals in music, art, design, photography and Nordic cuisine, amongst others, all contributing to the creation of shared experiences amongst citizens. Reinforcing the community ethos in shared public spaces can be seen from the hip cafes of Vesterbro, to the diverse mixing pot that is Norrebro or the ever-vibrant Christianshavn district. Building a city for everyone is truelly in effect and it is only expected to continue as infrastructure such as the new Metro line, currently under construction, spreads to connect more attractions, events and citizens.
Do it Yourself Culture – Keep it local
Such a community feel breeds support for young innovative citizens. An entrepreneurial spirit and realisation that Copenhagen is the place to be has invigorated the youthful generations, reflected by a new wave of start ups. From clean tech to clothing to coffee, new businesses are sprouting up to revitalise before neglected areas. Both a lively, ‘hip’ atmosphere and a relaxed, ‘café’ culture atmosphere can be found across many city districts; not only attracting the party goers, but young families, who are increasingly rejecting the traditional move to the suburbs seen in past generations. It is this diverse mix that is driving Copenhagen’s citizens to innovate, enhancing the urban environment whilst keeping locals, local!
What’s next for the city?
After a string of awards over previous years, which include topping the 2012 UN survey of global happiness, Copenhagen is striving to continue its impressive record with further improvements towards becoming a world leader in sustainability.
The city has already been named the 2014 European Green Capital acting as a role model for urban planning and design across the world. The ‘Green Laboratory’ development at the city’s North harbour, ambitious transport and cycling goals (50 % of people cycling to their place of work or education by 2015) and commitment to becoming the worlds first carbon neutral city by 2025 are all reasons why we can expect hear a lot more good news from Copenhagen in the near future. Watch this space!
Find out more about Copenhagen’s European Green Capital 2014 award and download the city’s winning presentation.