Thursday, May 9, 2013

Transit Oriented Development: The Copenhagen Approach

Although transit-oriented development is a U.S. born concept, many of its principles have been and continue to be widely used in European city planning. In Copenhagen, the concept of a transit-oriented development is being taken to a whole new level with the creation of Ørestad, a transit-oriented city. Ørestad is a developing city located in the Copenhagen region on the island of Amager. What sets this developing city apart from many others is that this city is using the “new town” concept seen in other parts of the world to build a completely planned community from start to finish.

The Ørestad Development Corporation, largely owned by the City of Copenhagen, was founded in 1993 to oversee the planning and development of this city. The development will take over 20 years to build, cost the city over €175 million,  and house over 20,000 people when completed. What makes this development similar to transit-oriented developments in the United States is the reliance on transit. Given its remote location, a Copenhagen Metro line will be the main public transit line connecting the new city to the City of Copenhagen. The M1 line will connect Ørestad to both Copenhagen city center (7 minute train ride) and neighboring city of Malmo (29 minute train ride), as well as to the Copenhagen airport (6 minute train ride).

The purpose of the city is to supply around 80,000 jobs along with its 20,000 residents, providing a new full-service, self-sustaining village and employment center for the Copenhagen region. The development begun in 2004 with only 100 resident, and has already reached 7,500 today as construction continues. The town will host the largest shopping mall in Denmark, the largest hotel in Scandinavia, and will even have its own university.

Ørestad is part of a larger effort by Copenhagen to dictate future growth in the area around what they call their “five finger plan.” The plan outlines an area of development that looks like a hand around the City of Copenhagen, where five Metro lines will extend out from the city center. Copenhagen will direct development along these five transit lines with the creation of more TOD-like developments in the future; however, what is still uncertain is how they will do so. Ørestad is just an experiment for Copenhagen to test the waters on the best way to direct future development within the “five fingers” they have laid out. It is still uncertain whether this “new town” approach of complete planning will be a successful model for the city to continue.


Richard D. Knowles, Transit Oriented Development in Copenhagen, Denmark: from the Finger Plan to Ørestad, Journal of Transport Geography, Volume 22, May 2012, Pages 251-261, ISSN 0966-6923, 10.1016/j.jtrangeo.2012.01.009. (

Pedersen, 2008:

1 comment:

  1. It will be interesting to see how these TODs work out in terms of use of transit in that area along with supporting commercial and residential activities. I am especially curious about the nature of jobs created in these newly developed areas.
    I live in Hillsboro not too far from Orenco Stations, one of the transit oriented developed communities in the Hillsboro. The area is surrounded by commercial activities and multiple employers, day care centers and variety of other activities. Expensive rent or buy a house however a good active location!Although at this point depending completely on transit as a transportation option is not widely seen. Max station has connection towards Portland and Hillsboro downtown, however around the town a facility like light rail can definitely help to improve the connectivity and reduce the dependence on the cars. I think it is even more important considering Intel one of the biggest employers in this area planning to expand. Interesting article!


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