A Copenhagen Icon: H. C. Ørstedsværket

cph_hco_01It’s a race against time as the sun is sinking and H.C. Ørsted Power Station’s shadows are as black as the coal that once fueled its furnaces and photographing this Herculean building is not only challenging, but feels forbidden. For as long as I can remember, H.C. Ørsted Power Station has dominated South Harbor’s skyline. The deep red oxide main building with its signature chimneys is without doubt one of Copenhagen harbor’s icons. But with the vast development of the area surrounding H.C. Ørsted Power Station and the popular bicycle route, The Harbor Ring now runs through the power plant’s infrastructure, making this once closed fortress open to the public, almost. This impressive cluster of buildings, producing energy today for 140,000 homes in Copenhagen was originally constructed in the 1920’s and has since evolved to match the growing demands of energy to the capitals residents, commercial activities and industry. During its prime, the power station was home to the world’s largest diesel motor, built by Burmeister & Wain in the 1930’s. The H.C. Ørsted Engine is still operational today and is the main attraction at the plant’s museum, Diesel House. Standing close to the 69m high chimney, I recall a local historian retelling the chilling story when H.C. Ørsted Power Station was the scene of Copenhagen’s worst aviation accidents. On a foggy August morning in 1957, an Aeroflot passenger flight from Moscow preparing to land at Copenhagen Airport, clipped one of the chimneys and plunged into the harbor killing all 23 passengers and the 5 crew members. Almost 60 years on, it is now owned by Dong Energy, slowly adjusting to its new role in Copenhagen’s urban landscape.

Photo credits: Phillip Mills

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