Urbego was lucky enough to have a guided tour of the developing new city of Vinge in Denmark earlier this month. Located in the municipality of Frederikssund, northwest of Copenhagen, Vinge will become the home to 20,000 citizens and 4,000 jobs. It will become a new town on the middle finger of Copenhagen’s famous finger plan of 1947.
Surrounded by lush green crop fields we were met by our good friend and head of urban development, Søren Smidt Jensen, who immediately pointed out where the new train station and highway extension was to be placed, providing a direct link in and out of Copenhagen in only 40 minutes or so. Vinge, he stressed, is not a suburb of Copenhagen however, its an ‘old, new town’ where residents have been involved in the planning and development of the ‘Delta Quarter’, the first phase in Vinge’s construction. There, future residents have designed their homes, with room for new technologies such as the Tesla Powerwall, all contributing to the town’s mission to become a sustainable and innovative new town. Private interests are fundamental in the development of the Delta Quarter and the wider plan for the city, where they take an unprecedented role in developing a city in which biodiversity, social mix and ecology come together.
As we walked through the now empty plots it was fascinating to imagine a vibrant community establishing itself on the side of the Delta stream. Looking at the housing situation in Copenhagen, the ideal of Vinge’s future ‘urban + nature’ lifestyle, we imagine is not a hard sell, and it led us to question our own dreams of future ‘urban’ life. As planners we also questioned the role of rural re-habitation of increasingly abandoned rural areas.
Can such a town like Vinge be a tool to restore local rural areas to their former glory or are they becoming abandoned for reasons that should be accepted? Can we find a balance between new town thinking and rehabilitate and re imagine existing rural areas? How can youth have a central role in this process?