The Highway Projects That Almost Destroyed Copenhagen

Watch this Youtube video version of this article
Watch this video about the environmental nightmare — Lynetteholm

Awkward History

Drawing of the 1910 tunnel proposal in the iconic Nyhavn district of Copenhagen
Similar plans for massive highways in other cities. Only Stockholm went through with it.
The Big H plan for motorways to connect Denmark in the 1950s

Søringen — The Lake Ring (1958–1973)

The areas and roads that are leftovers from the 1950s planning projects in Copenhagen
The green strip is where the motorway would be placed
The old National Hospital with Amorparken — and where the motorway would be placed
Left: the buildings razed to make space for more cars. Right: Fredensgade street before that happened
The route the motorway would have taken along the southern shore of The Lakes

City Plan Vest (1958–1973)

City Plan Vest (West) plans from 1958
What City Plan Vest would have looked like — superimposed on Copenhagen’s Vesterbro district
Model for the new City Plan Vest development 1960s

Car-free City Centre?

1967 plans for parking garages in the Nørrebro district, with electric buses ferrying people to the city centre

Urban Hansen — Copenhagen’s Robert Moses

Urban Hansen — Lord Mayor (1962–76) and 1970s anti-Urban grafitti in Vesterbro
Urbanplanen — social housing district named after Urban Hansen — they’re still trying to make it work
Razing buildings in Vesterbro in the early 1970s

Forumlinien — The Forum Line

The Forumlinien highway project from 1970
A mysterious drawing I found a decade ago — massive housing complex next to Nørrebrogade
Where the massive round housing project would be placed.
The original documents for Forumlinien plan 1970
Massive housing projects planned along The Lakes in Copenhagen in conjunction with The Forum Line
Various renderings for a total transformation of the area around Blågårdsplads in Nørrebro
What the new plans would look like today
See?! Everything is going to okay! Hardly any cars!
Fervent support for the whole shebang from Samvirke magazine in 1967
Politiken newspaper (left) calls bullshit on the project. Ingeniøren (right) is still hopeful
The archaic flyover Bispeengbuen from 1972 — now and then
Protests against The Lake Ring project in the early 1970s
Left: Renderings of the plans to bring back the water. Right: Like Aarhus has done in their city centre

The Seventies, man!

Left: more artificial island south of the city. Right: plan for a new motorway (no trains) in blue
  • Avedøre Holme — the nine artificial industrial islands south of the city.
  • The Kattegatforbindelsen — a proposed motorway (no trains, just cars) connecting the island of Sjælland with the Danish mainland.
  • The Harbour Tunnel that will feed more cars into Copenhagen.
  • Amager Fælled — while not a megaproject per se, still a massive, full-frontal attack to secure development of some of the last remaining original nature and the rare species that inhabit it.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mikael Colville-Andersen

Mikael Colville-Andersen

Urban designer, author and host of the global documentary series about urbanism, The Life-Sized City. Impatient Idealist.