Paper Island

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From paper
to people

Year: First prize in competition 2016, completed 2024

Client: CPH City & Port Development, CØ P/S (Danica Ejendomsselskab, Unionkul Ejendomme, Nordkranen), NCC

Program: Mixed-use including condos, co-operative social housing, hotel and retail

Size: 45,000 m²

For 300 years, Paper Island – an industrial site previously dedicated to paper storage – was off limits to the public. Yet almost over night, it was then opened up to the public and transformed into the fourth-most visited public attraction in Copenhagen – a new district with street food halls, art exhibitions, fashion shows, concerts and flea markets. However, the urban life created here was always planned as a temporary urban experiment, as a new development was planned to reutilize this unique and valuable location in the city. The existing buildings proved to be in very poor condition, antiquated in terms of both maintenance and sustainability. The new design therefore had to be based on tearing everything down and building new structures from scratch, while staying true to the fundamental belief in the power of transformation – in this case not the transformation of an actual building, but of an urban and invigorating mood. The new Paper Island is based on the re-imagination of the unique spirit of the place.

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The former industrial harbour in the center of Copenhagen.

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Rolls of paper being loaded onto ships at Paper Island.

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Paper Island with its former storage buildings.

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From secret island
to tourist attraction
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The old industrial halls had many purposes. From paper storage to X Factor events, summer parties, band nights and furniture showroom.

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2012: The island was closed to the public.

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2017: A vibrant urban living room on the waterfront.

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The halls
will be reborn

Paper Island is an example of how Copenhagen is transforming from an industrial city to a place for people. When Cobe helped re-program Paper Island from industry to food market, it soon became the fourth-most visited tourist attraction in Denmark. Learning from this success, Cobe chose the publicly accessible and robust architectural type of the industrial hall as a programmatic premise for the redevelopment of Paper Island into a setting for a vibrant culinary culture.

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When the island has been redeveloped and rebuilt, cultural activities will occupy the new halls to create a diverse and multifaceted ground-floor level.

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The new development is historically inscribed in a very unique location on the border between the former navy island of Holmen and Christianshavn, Copenhagen's old industrial warehouse district.

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The historic warehouses of Holmen and Christianshavn together with the old storage buildings on Paper Island have been the inspiration for the design of the new Paper Island.

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Our vision for the island’s future is to create a place that celebrates the city’s culture and the Copenhagen way of life. It was important for us that Paper Island also in future will be a first class example of Copenhagen’s generous urban living that can attract tourists and visitors at the same time has a strong local presence.

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Small pocket spaces, lowered wooden platforms for boats, a wide harbour promenade and a public pool create a capacity for thousands of people to enjoy this blue urban living room.

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By placing the new buildings on top of the halls as one big perimeter block, an intimate and protected courtyard space emerges that serves as both a private rooftop garden and a public green space on the ground floor.

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295 cobe paper island courtyard

The new residents of Paper Island get a beautiful new green urban space right next door. The island across the small canal will soon be transformed to a big park inspired by the romantic gardens of the 19th century. The park is a donation from the A.P. Møller Foundation and designed by Cobe.

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Today, Paper Island is one big construction site.

Location: Copenhagen, Denmark, Completed in 2024

Client: CPH City & Port Development, CØ P/S (Danica Ejendomsselskab, Unionkul Ejendomme, Nordkranen), NCC

Program: Mixed-use including condos, co-operative social housing, hotel and retail

Size: 45,000 m²

Year: First prize in competition 2016, completed 2024

Collaborators: Inside Outside, Via Trafik, Transsolar, MOE

Awards: MIPIM Awards 2017 Finalist – Best Futura Project

Team: Alexander Ejsing, Anders Gade Jørgensen, Antonia Szabo, Artur Gorski, Bart Smets, Ben Allnatt, Birk Folke Daugaard, Caroline Richardt Beck, Claes Nilsson, Clement Bue Maali, Cristina Marigo, Dan Stubbergaard, David Boss Jessen, Eik Bjerregaard, Greta Tiedje, Hjalte Thorn Bidsted, Iben Marie Borbye Pedersen, Kenn Andersen, Kristoffer Harling, Lars Harup, Louise Flach de Neergaard, Mads Birgens Kristensen, Majbritt Lerche, Marianne Filtenborg, Marie Harvard-Delcey, Mark Aron Thomsen, Matilda Andersson, Mette Heide, Nicolai Duedahl Hende, Nikolaj Harving, Peter Laust Røhr Hønnicke, Piotr Zalewski, Rasmus Lassen, Rune Madsen, Sigrid Marie Poulsen, Simon Sjökvist, Steffen Ommundsen, Sune Mogensen, Susanne Skov Kunert, Søren Schaumburg Jensen, Ted Schauman, Teresa Fernández Rojo, Thomas Bang Jespersen, Thomas Krarup, Ulrich Pohl, William Gardner

Photographer: Rasmus Hjortshøj – COAST

Historical photos: Københavns Museum

Image Credits: Please note that we had used a small number of images for which the copyright holders could not be identified. In these cases it has been our assumption that such images belong to the public domain. If you claim ownership of any of the images presented and have not been properly identified, please notify Cobe and we will make a formal acknowledgement.