The Copenhagen
of Dreams

Major architectural projects
that were never realized

Note! Minor Photo Exhibition

March 18 –
June 25, 2023

The exhibition is on display in the Hall. It is open weekends and week days, when the Hall is not used for other purposes.

“The Copenhagen of Dreams” is a stroll through a Copenhagen which might have been, but never came to pass because of economics, policy, protests, doubt, stupidity and everything in-between. In some cases this was a relief; in others it was a pity.

For example, in the 1960s the Danish state and municipalities were enthusiastic about a project that would have brought a six-lane highway above the lakes circling the old part of the city between Fredens Dæmning and Gyldenløvesgade. Today the very idea seems completely crazy. On the other hand, it’s a pity that we will never see Jørn Utzon’s enchanting pagoda as Langelinie Pavillonen.

“The Copenhagen of Dreams” demonstrates that the Copenhagen we know today is often the result of a stream of coincidences. The city that seems so logical and clear is in fact a collection of experiments that became reality more by luck than by judgement. Copenhagen’s democratically elected politicians have only rarely looked to the future and thought about what would be best for the city. Far more often, they tentatively take the temperature of current ‘public opinion’ in a hope to be re-elected.

The ever pestering, vote-catching public opinion rules supreme as the most destructive force in the development of Copenhagen. And politicians, with their excessive fears of this very same public opinion, take a clear second place.

The British architect Norman Foster’s hotel tower near Tivoli, Utzon’s swimming pool by Peblingesø lake and PLOT/BIG’s homes on Amager are just three examples of prime architecture that could easily have permeated the entire city today, but which fell at the altar of public opinion.

This modest exhibition presents five projects that sadly came to naught, and a single project which, to everyone’s relief, ended on the scrap heap.

Copenhagen is still a very attractive city, despite what never materialized, and despite the mistakes that did. So why not take a stroll around
“The Copenhagen of Dreams”? Not in order to feed a barren bitterness or a melancholy sentimentality, but to fly the flag for creativity and dreams. Enjoy your stroll.

– Holger Dahl

About Holger Dahl

Holger Dahl is Berlingske’s architecture critic. He is a trained architect and, before his move to Berlingske, worked as a communications manager in architectural studios for many years.

In addition to the many articles, columns and commentaries on architecture, he is the author of the book “Drømmenes København” and the text part of “Copenhagen from the Sky”. He has also published both travelogues and a single novel based on his youth in China.

– Portrait by Lars Gundersen.
– Photo: Suste Bonnén

The exhibition shows a selection from the book “Drømmenes København”, Strandberg Publishing, 2022.
The exhibition is supported by Realdania