Monday, March 08, 2010

Danish award to a "raw and poetic" boulevard

COPENHAGEN. The seedy streets of Vesterbro used to be the dark side of Denmark’s capital Copenhagen. Drug trafficking and prostitution characterized this neighbourhood near the city’s Central Station.
You can still see remnants of that in Vesterbro, but this part of Copenhagen has been transformed into a vibrant example of modern urbanism.
Now Sønder Boulevard, a main thoroughfare turned into a lively urban space, has been awarded the yearly “Road Price” for 2009 by the Danish Road Directorate.
“Sønder Boulevard is an excellent example of how the city’s many functions can be connected in harmony. When it was constructed in the late 1800’s, Sønder Boulevard was a classic boulevard. Today it stands out as an expression for how infrastructure and recreation can be combined despite the contradiction in those concepts and their functions”, says Per Jacobsen, director of the Danish Road Directorate.
The architecture of the renewed boulevard, designed by SLA architects in Copenhagen, is described as at the same time “raw and poetic”.
During my last couple of visits to Copenhagen I have enjoyed walking along this modern streetscape. People gather in the park between the opposite lanes of the boulevard. Small weekend markets draw young and old, people play basketball or table tennis.
As the boulevard turns into Halmtorvet (Straw Square) nearer the Central Station you find many restaurants and cafés, several with an eco-profile.
Here is also the popular Kødbyen, Copenhagen’s own Meatpacking District, now an increasingly popular place for cool restaurants, bars, galleries and shops.
“Sønder Boulevard will surely set new standards for how we create good urban spaces in Copenhagen. The boulevard used to be a thoroughfare that now turned into a place where you can stroll in green surroundings, relax on a bench, use the playground or play ball. We created new opportunities in the middle of the city – and we created a green belt through Vesterbro”, says Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard, Copenhagen’s vice mayor for the environment, in a comment to the award.

A weekend market on a boulevard turned into a modern urban space.