Papirøen – Entry for architectural idea competition.

In the beginning of 2015 the City of Copenhagen made a public idea competition on the future use of the area “Papirøen”. Papirøen literally means the Paper Island. It is a small artificially created peninsula in the very center of the Copenhagen harbour. For the last many years it has been a depository of paper for the danish newspaper industry, hence the name. Before that it was a naval base. The paper storage has now been moved out of the city and Papirøen has to take on a new role in the urban landscape.

My suggestion was basically quite simple: Buy an old farm in peripheral Denmark and move it to Papirøen. From the new location at Papirøen the farm should be fully functional with a farmer, animals and fields in the middle of Copenhagen.

Denmark is subject to the global tendency of a movement of people and capital from the rural areas to the citys. The outskirts of Denmark is experiencing an outflux of jobs and once thriving communities is falling apart. These areas has traditionally been occupied with farming and agriculture. The gap between the larger cities and the rural areas is often manifested in division and distrust. The population of the rural areas feels that the political and cultural elite in the cities is neglecting their part of the country on the other hand the population of the cities seems to think of the peripheral areas as belonging to another century. This division has manifested itself in great economic and political differences between the rural and urban parts of Denmark.

My idea of moving a farm from rural Denmark to the very heart of Copenhagen is a way of uniting these two parts of Denmark. Copenhagen gets the opportunity to show that rural Denmark is nothing to be ashamed of. Tourist, visitors and native Copenhageners is invited to visit a fully functional farm in the middle of Copenhagen and to celebrate a part of danish history which is often neglected.

Celebrating Danish agriculture and placing a farm at that location makes even more sense in the light of the nordic food revolution which has been going on for the last 15 years. Copenhagen has taken on a new found role as an international food metropol. One of the absolute pillars of New Nordic Cuisine “Noma”, headed by chef René Redzepi, is located only 20m from Papirøen. The restaurant was selected as the world’s best for several years.

Papirøen is neighboring the Opera Building, The School of Architecture, The Film School, The Defence headquarters and on the other side of the harbour is the National Theater building and the residence of the Royal Family just to name a few. Placing a functional farm among such important institutions would further cement Copenhagen’s role as a food capital and send a signal of unification to rural denmark instead of division and distrust.

Papirøen is visible from almost the entire harbour area. The location don’t need a new monumental building taking into consideration the amount of recently build shiny architecture in the area. Architecture is often considered to be a sculptural exercise. This is indeed true for the harbour area of Copenhagen where a host of buildings is trying to achieve the most beautiful / ideal form, with varying success one might say. For this project architecture is instead considered in a more conceptual way which involve the appropriation of a farm. This is a way of thinking that is must more associated with conceptual art and the emergence of the Ready Made in the 20th century then with the painters and sculptures that is more common as an inspiration for architects. The project did not came about by making a lot of sketches and trying to render the form best suited for the area but is instead a sticky intellectual endeavour based on the political and cultural situations “surrounding” Papirøen.

This is an english / portfolio version of the actual three page entry which was created in Danish. The project received honorable mention.

Update: In the late summer of 2015 Rene Redzepi announced that Noma is closing in the end of 2016 only to reopen with a new concept and location in 2017. The new restaurant will be placed at a site only about 300 meters from Papirøen and will feature an urban farm with floating fields providing the ingredients for the new restaurant. It seems that the idea of a farm in central Copenhagen is not that far fetched after all.