Copenhagen is developing a resilient neighbourhood in the north-eastern district of Østerbro. Climate resilience, particularly the challenges associated with heavy rainfall, is combined with a social objective to create valuable communal spaces which reinforce strong community.
The first adapted space in the area as part of this programme was Taasinge Plads, completed in 2014. It combines a multi-faceted rainwater management solution with a new piazza and elements of nature integrated with both the accessible space and the stormwater management ponds.
A few hundred metres down the street is Sankt Kjelds Plads. Differing from Taasinge Plads insofar as it is a busy thoroughfare and bus route, the redevelopment of the intersection at Sankt Kjelds must both satisfy the existing infrastructural demands as well as creating new public space, increasing safety for pedestrians and cyclists and achieving the resilience goals of the klimakvarter initiative.
On my short visit I noted the location, with primarily residential mid-rise blocks on the south-eastern side and commercial blocks to the north-west. Buses travelling on an east-west route were regular (every 6 minutes in both directions), and within the boundaries of the development were two bus stops. whilst work was clearly ongoing, the general layout of the space was clear and the majority of paths and roads were complete. The plan incorporated cycle parking, several rainwater management ponds, stroll gardens with winding footpaths and a variety of trees and shrubs, benches alongside the paths, and some dedicated cycle bypasses pulling cycle traffic away from the roads.
Whilst the overall impression is of well managed space, a deeper observation of cyclist, pedestrian and road traffic behaviour suggested some issues with the plan.
- Cyclists on the roads are forced in to the flow of traffic ahead of the roundabout at the main intersection. I observed several cyclists forced to wait up to 20 seconds to proceed despite the relatively quiet time of day.
- Perhaps as a result of this, many cyclists chose to cycle on the footpaths rather than use the roads.
- The placement of the bus stop in the east-west direction was such that the footpath giving access from the south did not offer a direct enough route for those pedestrians I observed. Most chose to use one of two already well established desire paths through the greenery of the park to cross the road without the support of the central island.
- The winding stroll paths through the park areas were rarely used, with pedestrians keeping to the traditional perimeter sidewalks.
- There is limited open space for people to convene.
A few photos I took are compilied in the video. I will return as the development progresses to see how the area matures.