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Nowzar Hedayati

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  • Nowzar Hedayati

Where is Amager heading?

Amager is a suburb of Copenhagen, located on an island in the southeast of Denmark's capital.

Over the past 15-20 years, Amager –particularly west of Amager– has gone under a rapid urban development. One of the main causes of this development was the construction of Copenhagen Metro, which connected the city center to the airport. The metro line in Amager splits into two tracks, one going to the airport and the other going to west of the island.

Copenhagen metro is very efficient, clean and fast. The construction of these lines provided a very quick and easy access to the city center. Therefore, Amager became a fertile ground for the development and construction of new apartments and office spaces.

Over the past few years, many new buildings have sprouted throughout the island alongside the metro line. Many urban planners have criticized this linear urban growth, simply because a linear growth causes lack of urban elements such as, public plazas, public gathering spaces and a central urban area. One can say that the only public gathering space that provides coffee shops, boutique stores, restaurants etc. is the Field's Shopping Mall in west Amager! This is much different from Copenhagen city center, which has many open public spaces that offers spaces for social activities, hangout areas and relaxing environments for its citizens!

With all of the urban criticisms directed towards the form and shape of west Amager's urban development and planning, almost everyone could agree that some of Denmark's most amazing modern architectural projects of 2000's have been built on this island. West Amager used to be a creative architecture lab and a breathing ground for now world famous buildings and their architects.

During that period, architects built amazing structures on Amager. Starting with the infamously expensive Danish radio and TV complex known as DR Byen, by Vilhelm Lauritzen Architect, Dissing+Weitling, Gottlieb Paludan and Jean Nouvel.

But, perhaps some of Amager's most famous projects; among young architects all over the world are, Bjarke Ingels' and Julien De Smedt's VM house and BIG's Mountain Dwelling and 8-Tallet and many more. These projects have made west Amager an attractive spot in all of Copenhagen. I myself have been a tour guide to at least a dozen architect friends who have visited Copenhagen; and we all enjoyed walking in these architectural marvels.

But unfortunately, every time I visit the area I see a different Amager. I see an Amager that is being over taken by "Profit Architecture". Amager is no longer a breathing ground for innovative architectural projects, but it is a fertile site where developers look for maximum profitability. Where, architectural aesthetics are being sacrificed for economic gains. Those exciting buildings are being surrounded by tall, grey boxes with balconies!

I hope that architectural philosophy and innovative design returns to the island once more, otherwise the Mountain Dwellings, the VM House and 8-Tallet, will be just a few good examples surrounded by big grey boxes in a suburb with almost no central public plaza.

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