Copenhagen’s Kødbyen: From Blood-Stained Bibs to Barista Aprons

Copenhagen Kødbyen

First impressions tend to stick. The stench from the lorry filled with the carcasses from slaughtered cattle that passed me was overwhelming. This was my first encounter with Copenhagen’s Kødbyen The Meat City, back in those heady days of the early 1980’s. The meat-packing district in the heart of Vesterbro back then was off-limits for a newly recruit into the ranks of vegetarianism. However, this vibrant village within a city has always flirted with my background as a spatial designer and a fascination for urban development.

Copenhagen Kødbyen Bean Geek

Functionalism taken to new heights.
Kødbyen spans an impressive 154,000m² area, representing architecturally two epochs; The Brown Meat City from the 1870’s, The White Meat City from the mid 1930’s. All were attempts to modernize and industrialize slaughter-house and meat production to Copenhagen’s growing population. For admirers of functionalism, The White Meat City is especially worthy of a study-trip. Today, the white reinforced concrete facades, cobalt blue details and generous metal-framed windows have found a whole new generation of admirers.

Copenhagen Kødbyen Motorious

Blood-stained bibs replaced by barista leather aprons.
When the last cow was slaughtered in the early 1990’s, slowly but surely, the blood-stained bibs were replaced by more fashionable barista leather aprons. Inspired by Manhattan’s Meatpacking district, Kødbyen began to sparkle from 2007 when cultural, gastronomic and creative initiatives began to flourish. With The Brown Meat City focusing on cultural and educational projects, The White Meat City continued re-inventing itself with co-working spaces such as, SOHO, restaurants like the legendary Fiskebar, the ever so masculine concept store, Motorious and the pioneering artisan chocolate creator, Bean Geeks.

Copenhagen Kødbyen Scandic Hotel

Scandic Hotel Kødbyen.
The upgrading of Skelbækgade, with the opening of the Scandic Hotel Kødbyen and the neighboring SOPU Campus in 2018, Danielsen Architecture has transformed this flank of Kødbyen bringing a new audience to this popular district of Copenhagen. New York and Vancouver are rightly proud of their respective Meatpacking District and Granville Island, but Copenhagen’s Kødbyen is up there with them.

Kødbyen 08

Content & Images: Phillip Mills