Saturday, June 12, 2010
Labels: artChristiania, autonomous, bikes, blog, Copenhagen, Copenhagenise, cyclists, Danish, Denmark, design, Freetown, graffiti, inbred, Jan Gehl, Mary, perks, photo, weed
Copenhagen, Denmark. One of my heroes in life is Jan Gehl, Copenhagen native, Danish architect, and urban planner. Gehl has made his mark by car-hating. I mean, he fucking hates cars. If it was up to Jan, in all large civilised, cities, everybody would either ride a bike, catch public transport, or walk. Copehagen has been Copehagenised by Gehl over the last few decades. This essentially means bringing life into the city by making it bike and pedestrian friendly. As simple as that. He mentioned that when first suggesting to the Copenhagen-ites his idea of cars being eliminated from certain areas, so that restaurants can put out tables and chairs in the sun, the response was "we're not Italians". Fast forward to 2010, Copenhagen-ites are alfresco-ing like its Ferragosto in Milan. One of the first impressions I had of Copenhagen was how quiet is was. Not devoid of people, but for how busy certain areas were, the lack of car noise was distinctly surreal. Jan was onto something. I may be biased, given that Phillipa has Danish hertitage, but, I think the whole idea of pretty girls riding bikes through Copenhagen is spectacular.
Speaking of pretty girls, what about that Princess Mary of Tasmania. Mary, Crown Princess of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat. She doesn't do it for me. No sir, I am not a fan. There is a certain irony between the Royal Inbred Family of Denmark choosing a Tasmanian as their next Queen. Those who are familiar with inbreeding, connect the dots. I mean come on, I'm all for gene pool maximisation, but I'm just saying Tasmania may not have been the wisest choice for a clean strand of DNA. But, Prince Frederick has some nice digs, it's a great city, I'm sure they'll be happy together. I am afraid for their children, medical technology hasn't progressed to the point of being able to fix busted human DNA, even in Denmark.
Freetown Christiania was another highlight of Copenhagen. Christiania is a self-proclaimed autonomous commune occupying a fairly large area in a down-town neighbourhood. Even at 8.30am, the smell of weed was thick in the air, as people warmed their hands over bon-fires, smiled, and talked a lot, and munched on delicious organic pastry items. In 1971, the locals took over a disused military barracks, and proclaimed it as their own, above the law and authorities of Copenhagen. Amost forty years later, they are still runnin' tings. No cars allowed in Christiana, and no photos either. We had a lovely stroll through Christiania on a misty, cool morning , starting with Pusher Street (seriously), stopping for a Danish pastry on Crack Pipe Alley, and a coffee on Junky Terrace. A quick detour via the Shooting Gallery, named after the original army barracks, I guess, and we were back in the land of normal.
Graffiti is everywhere in Copenhagen. There is something incredibly beautiful about architecture that is older than any building in Australia, tagged to buggery. The authorities clearly can't be bothered removing any of it, which I approve of whole-heartedly. Just think for a minute - if you were a grey wall, wouldn't you want to be tagged on? It would brighten your whole day. Won't somebody think of the walls! Wu Tang Photography was a clear winner, hence the photo above. Simple, yet effective.
So, we have a car hating city full of cyclists, drugs freely available, autonomous neighbourhoods running themselves, hertitage architecture, a lot of graffiti, good food, and a royal family inbreeding themselves into malformed extinction. The result? High incomes, low crime, long life expectancy. I haven't even mentioned the furniture shops. Danish design, god damn its fine. Copenhagen, and Jan Gehl, I tip my hat, and hope that one day I will be back for a longer visit.
Important note regarding the photos below. The pics showing the "nice" part of Copenhagen, with the boats in the fore-ground, were taken by Phillipa. She wants "perks". I think she meant "props". Enjoy.