Karens Minde: Bridging The Gap In South Harbor

cph_karens minde_01Copenhagen’s South Harbor, has for the last 10 years witnessed major development projects that have transformed a static harbor and waterfront into a thriving residential and commercial area. Teglholmen and Sluseholmen are still undergoing expansion, but both neighborhoods still attract world-wide attention from an audience willing to learn from Copenhagen’s experiences in urban planning and architectural design. These projects have with great effect enhanced Copenhagen’s brand as a progressive city utilizing its once neglected harbor area. The challenges facing this neighborhood are now how to bond Teglholmen and Sluseholmen with the rest of South Harbor. South Harbor has for years been synonymous with social and economic stagnation, indeed the post code of 2450 has the lowest income per household in the whole of Denmark. Both entities have tremendous attributes, we just have to learn how to link them and re-think a new South Harbor identity engaging all of the local residents.

During the mid 1980’s, I had the pleasure of working at the Institution for Development Disabilities at Karens Minde, an oasis in the heart of South Harbor. Originally, a small manor with adjacent farmland from the early 1800’s and renowned for its herbal gardens and wild strawberries, it has always been a focal point in this neighborhood. When the institution closed in 1987, Karens Minde red-brick buildings developed into a cultural and communal center, providing a library, a café, a radio station, a recording studio and a tango pavilion for South Harbor’s residents. However, it was the Children’s Animal Field project that has intrigued me. This engaging  green project allows local urban kids the chance to come into contact with urban nature and take responsibility looking after horses, goats, rabbits and chickens. Run by a volunteer group, the project brings children of diverse and social backgrounds in South Harbor together forming their own bonds. A wonderful project that could bring families based in Teglholmen and Sluseholmen and the rest of South Harbor together.

Photo credits: Phillip Mills

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