Copenhagen in Common: New exhibition celebrates Copenhagen as the World Capital of Architecture


Press Officer
Johanne Troelsgaard Toft
+45 6142 1927

Copenhagen has been designated as the UNESCO World Capital of Architecture for 2023. Danish Architecture Center is celebrating this with a grand summer exhibition. Copenhagen in Common tells the story of Copenhagen’s strong tradition of focusing on communities and public involvement. But it also highlights the room for improvement and need for innovation.

Many people consider Copenhagen a unique and pioneering city in terms of making good urban spaces. Year after year, the Danish capital appears on various must-visit lists in trendsetting international media. But what’s Copenhagen doing right? How does Copenhagen create quality of life? What will it take for Copenhagen to continue to be one of the best cities in the world to live in? And how does Copenhagen’s architecture form the framework for how citizens interact?

The Copenhagen in Common exhibition looks more closely at what is behind the Copenhagen success story, and where it fails.

The Finger Plan, cycle paths and harbor swimming pools

Copenhagen in Common unfolds the story of Copenhagen: from the historic urban plan to a number of unique cases that characterize the city today. A large city model placed centrally in the exhibition tells the story of Copenhagen’s development from the Finger Plan in 1947 to the present day.

The exhibition examines what helped make Copenhagen an international success from early establishment of pedestrian streets in the 1960s, and the exceptionally high architectural quality of social housing and infrastructure, to cycling culture, urban green spaces, public involvement, climate proofing and harbor swimming pools.

Come and enjoy Copenhagen

The exhibition is designed to resemble a city, where visitors explore different neighborhoods reflected in the exhibition architecture: The Blue City, the Green City, the Dense City and the Diverse City.

Harbor swimming pools, kayak clubs, oyster banks, new bridges, cultural institutions and harbor parks. The port of Copenhagen has meeting places for the whole city. As the port has become more desirable, it has also attracted investment, and new apartment blocks and offices are rising along the harbor front as never before. The Blue City showcases dockland projects that have helped put Copenhagen on the map, and others that have made blood boil.

The rising population and growing city are putting pressure on the city’s green havens. Despite demands for city parks, rooftop gardens and courtyard spaces, analyses show that over the past decade natural space per capita has fallen for Copenhageners. The Green City looks at nature in the city; at what we have, at what we are on the verge of losing and at what architects are creating.

More people want to live in cities, and this means that we have to live closer together, with less space. Dense cities are often more sustainable, because a smaller home consumes less than a larger one, and you share the infrastructure for electricity, gas and water. Moreover, there is less need for transportation and easier access to public transportation. The Dense City offers architecture that considers Copenhagen as a condensed city that, at its best, brings us closer together.

Even though Copenhageners are moving ever closer together, they often gather in areas and social environments with those they resemble most. The Mixed City shows some of the residential areas and urban spaces of Copenhagen that gather people across culture, age, income and religion.

The dark side

Copenhagen is not only glossy pictures of cycle paths in the morning sun and high ranks on various livability lists. Copenhagen in Common also casts a critical eye on the city. The exhibition raises questions such as: What happens to city life, if only the wealthy can afford to live there? Who are left behind when modern urban spaces are designed? How do we preserve the unplanned and patinated that give the city its edge? Is the Copenhagen urban community for everyone? What do we deprive ourselves of when there is fierce competition for space and new areas to build on are to be found? And what should Copenhagen do now, as we face the storm surges, drought and rising water levels of the climate crisis?

Copenhagen from several angles

How does an ethnic-minority 13-year-old from the social apartment blocks of Lundtoftegade experience Urban 13 underneath the Bispebuen overpass? And how does an elderly owner of an apartment in the adjacent and more wealthy area of Frederiksberg experience this? Via a comment thread, exhibition visitors can gain an insight into projects from several user perspectives.

In seven films, visitors can hear Copenhagen residents give their personal views on the city as they introduce a topic or a place in the city that is close to their heart.

Copenhagen of the future: three visions

Danish Architecture Center gives the stage to three architecture firms, each of which outlines their dream project as a possible solution to the climate crisis and urbanization – designed for the Copenhagen of the future.

Explore an anthropogenic forest by the design studio SLA. SLA considers urban nature an essential part of future-proofing Copenhagen. JaJa Architects give their view on a car-free Copenhagen, while the EFFEKT architecture firm designs homes of the future focusing on communities and sustainable solutions.

See more about the exhibition here.

The exhibition is supported by Augustinus Fonden, Arne V. Schleschs Fonden, Beckett Fonden and the philanthropic association Realdania.

The exhibition will run from May 5 to October 23, 2023.

About Danish Architecture Center

Danish Architecture Center (DAC) is an international cultural attraction that creates engaging experiences and generates debate about architecture and design. Here you can experience exhibitions, tours and events, and shop design products. You can also enjoy the spectacular view of the city from the café’s large rooftop terraces.

The financial basis is a public-private partnership between Realdania and the Danish government. The Danish government is represented by the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Housing and Senior Citizens.


The Copenhagen in Common exhibition has been developed by Danish Architecture Center.

The exhibition is supported by Realdania, Augustinus Fonden, Arne V. Schleschs Fonden and Beckett Fonden

Special thanks to all the collaboration partners who have contributed to the exhibition

Anne Romme – Anton Allure – Arcgency – BIG – BOGL – Bonnie Mürsch – Black Iron Horse – Cecillie Tentau – CPH Village – Christianias Arkiv – Cobe – Dark Matters – Dissing+Weitling – EFFEKT – Godot Stangerup – Ingrid Baraka – Jan Gehl – Janis Karasevskis – JDS Architects – Kaj Thelander Jessen – Katinka – Kenneth Balfelt Team – Kit Løvendahl – KEINGART – SPACE_ ACTIVATORS – Kvadrat – Lundgaard & Tranberg – MAST / Magnus Maarbjerg – MANGOR & NAGEL – Mizz Privileze – Nicholas Woollhead – Nordisk Film – Ole Lykke – ONV – Pihlmann Architects – Platant Arkitekter – Rikke Rohr – Rønnow Arkitekter – Simon Witzansky – SLA – Spektrum Arkitekter – Susanne Wellm – Torben Eskerod – Urban 13 – Vandkunsten Architects – White Arkitekter – ØsterGRO

About Copenhagen in Common

  • The exhibition is divided into four zones: The Blue City, the Green City, the Dense City and the Mixed City. In the four main zones, visitors meet a number of integrated communication tracks.
  • A large city model placed centrally in the exhibition tells the story of Copenhagen’s development from the Finger Plan in 1947 to the present day. The model was developed in collaboration with Dark Matters, with illustrations by Curated Works.
  • Facts about Copenhagen: Throughout the exhibition, visitors are presented with various facts about Copenhagen. For example, did you know that almost one in five Copenhageners has a non-Danish passport? That Copenhageners spend 60% of their income on rent on average? Or that they cycle more than nine kilometers a day on average?
  • The city in motion: How do we feel the city’s pulse? The city in motion installation allows visitors to create their own pulse for the city. When the installation is empty it comes to a standstill. Just as the city would do without people and life.

About designation of Copenhagen as the World Capital of Architecture

  • Copenhagen is the World Capital of Architecture for 2023. World Capital of Architecture is a new title awarded by UNESCO to the city hosting the UIA’s World Congress of Architects. The title is only awarded every three years.
  • The Danish capital was selected because of its innovative urban development and its strong tradition for democratic and sustainable architecture to inspire cities all over the world.
  • The title is the result of a collaboration between Wonderful Copenhagen, the Danish Architects’ Association and the City of Copenhagen. The City of Copenhagen is responsible for the festival program, and Danish Architecture Center is the primary partner together with the UIA (Union International des Architectes).
  • Throughout the year, DAC will be the natural epicenter for a wide range of activities and exhibitions.

About the International Union of Architects (UIA)

  • On July 2-6, Copenhagen is hosting the UIA World Congress of Architects – the world’s largest congress on sustainable architecture and construction, and 10-15,000 attendees from around the world are expected to make their way to Copenhagen.
  • The theme of the congress in Copenhagen is ‘Sustainable Futures – Leave No One Behind’
  • Included in the congress ticket for each attendee is unlimited free admission to Danish Architecture Center (DAC) and the BLOX building, which will be buzzing with activity every day until 10 p.m.
  • The ambition is to create global and local awareness of Copenhagen’s architecture in the broad sense. Copenhagen will attract huge international attention, and 2023 is therefore a golden opportunity to showcase what Danish architecture firms have to offer within architecture and livability.