Team Swift in Copenhagen

Connectivity and Cycling – Pete Swift, ever passionate about cities, cycling, coffee and Copenhagen.

Team Swift were fortunate indeed to be led on our cycle tour by the engaging Klaus Bondam. Previously an actor and former Mayor of The City of Copenhagen, Klaus is now Director of the Danish Cyclists Federation where his mission is to ‘engender greater traffic safety, accessibility, comfort, and richness of experience for people riding bicycles’. So it is safe to say, we were in very knowledgeable and experienced hands.

Our first stop was Bryggebroen. Congestion was a major issue in Copenhagen and air quality was bad. The City of Copenhagen wanted to make the lives of cyclists easier. Bryggebroen was one of the first pieces of major cycle infrastructure that enabled the people of the city to pass across the river with ease. Klaus commented that thousands of people attended the opening of the bridge to watch the ribbon cutting – it was the first time he realised the political power of cycling infrastructure projects and their importance to the people of the city.

The strong design culture of the Danish was clear to see as we rattled our way across the cobbles and onto the welcoming, smooth surface of Cirkelbroen or ‘Circle Bridge’. Moving through the city should not be a chore, it should be a pleasure – the playfulness in the design of the bridge was testament to this. Aspirations for the bridge were high and we were not disappointed by the scores of cables reaching up from the handrails to meet three circular metal forms sitting above the structure like a crown on the riverfront. The bridge was delivered using philanthropic funds in collaboration with a local artist, Olafur Eliasson.

A few spine jolting moments later (again testament to the cobbles) we pedalled our Hotel Bikes gracefully along the embankment to the mighty Kalvebod Waves Deck. This beautifully crafted scheme allows citizens and visitors to fully realise the potential of the city as a playscape. In the autumnal breeze of a September afternoon we were not too keen to fling off our goose downs and plunge into the icy waters; instead we opted to sip our lattes and listen as Klaus continued to fill our heads with fascinating facts.

After a short commercial break to consume pastries and several pints of the local pilsner, the team set off towards their final stop – ‘Nørreport Station’.

Nørreport is fantastic scheme integrating segregated cycle lanes, subtle up-stands and landscape buffers along kerb-lines to slow cars down as they approach from side streets. The hierarchy of transport was clear for all to see – thousands of bikes clustered in designated cycle parking pockets, pedestrians filtering through the square with plenty of safe space in which to do so – followed by vehicles with the most convoluted routes across this space and indeed throughout the city.

Written by Graduate Urban Designer, Ben Webb and Landscape Architect, James Hartwell

Find out more about the practice’s danish-style 20th year celebrations and what the teams got up to in Copenhagen
Team Marohn – Public Squares and Beautiful Streets
Team Chairetaki – Education and Culture
Team Lord – Parks and Cemeteries
Team Santini – Masterplanning and Regeneration
Team Tokunaga – Housing Typologies and Gardens