Bilfinger Berger Award 2009: Copenhagen’s exemplary urban development project honored

July 29, 2009

July 29, 2009

Bilfinger Berger Award 2009

Participation of local residents key to success: Copenhagen’s exemplary urban development project honored

The Holmbladsgade district of Copenhagen is the winner of the Bilfinger Berger Award 2009. In this area, decisions on investments in social infrastructure and in the modernization of residential buildings, roads and squares were largely made by the residents themselves. This meant that the successful development of the former problem area was accompanied by a high degree of acceptance among the people who live there. In July 2009, Prof. Dr. Klaus Töpfer, former head of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and Herbert Bodner, Chairman of the Executive Board at Bilfinger Berger, presented the Award in Copenhagen to representatives of the city. “Holmbladsgade is an excellent example of urban development and German cities can learn a lot from it”, explains Klaus Töpfer.

Significant improvement in quality of life
The Holmbladsgade project is part of a Danish program called Kvarterløft (urban regeneration), which calls for a strong commitment from local residents in the development of their districts. Holmbladsgade was once among Copenhagen’s more disadvantaged areas. Most of the buildings were built as apartments for laborers at the beginning of the 20th century and were in desperate need of modernization in the middle of the nineties. Thanks to a combined approach from state, city, private investors and residents, quality of life for the people here has greatly improved. Today, residents benefit from new urban focal points for culture, society, youth and sport. Social problems that had previously been prevalent were successfully solved or significantly alleviated.

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Exemplary resident participation
The residents of Holmbladsgade were involved in all of the planning processes for Kvarterløft and could actively influence how their district should be changed. In a recent survey, over 80 percent of people living in Holmbladsgade said that they were familiar with the regeneration project in their district. The survey also showed that over 10 percent were actively involved in the process. “The participation of local residents is unique and shows that a committed citizenry is not an obstacle to urban development”, says Klaus Töpfer. On the contrary: participation from residents ensures acceptance and the sustainability of urban development projects. Newly-created public spaces, the culture centre, the sports centre and the maritime youth centre now form new centers of activity that are visited by hundreds of people every day.

Learning from international models of success
“Urban development succeeds when the measures taken correspond to people’s needs”, says Herbert Bodner, Chairman of the Executive Board at Bilfinger Berger. “What got our attention in Holmbladsgade was the successful integration of local residents.” Klaus Töpfer is convinced that this active participation model can be transferred to German cities. “If we want to improve the viability of German cities, we have to look beyond our borders and learn from others. Only then can we meet the challenges of the future”, he says.

About the Bilfinger Berger Award
The thematic focus of this year’s Bilfinger Berger Award included redevelopment concepts for former industrial areas, solutions for the revitalization of unused harbors and model projects for inner-city traffic. The Prognos Research Institute evaluated 120 projects in 16 countries. With the Bilfinger Berger Award, the international construction and services Group recognizes future-oriented projects abroad. The objective of the prize, which comes with a €50,000 cash award, is to promote the exchange of knowledge and experience and to provide impetus for the development of German cities. Competition for the Bilfinger Berger Award was held for the first time in 2007.

Additional information:

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Christian Bischoff / Katja Böhne
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