Richard Turen
Richard Turen

It is getting crowded in the capital of the world's "happiest country." Things are so serious in Copenhagen, Denmark, that mayor Frank Jensen and the city fathers feel something must be done.

So many Danes have moved to the bustling capital that the city has become a hub for technology. Some call it the Silicon Valley of Scandinavia.

This has caused a very real shortage of office space as well as housing for the young people attracted by jobs and the city's vibe as a no-worries place to live.

In another country in a different part of the world, the political leadership might have suggested that a wall be erected to keep out the job seekers. But that is not the way of the Danes.

Instead, the government has announced the Holmene Project, a massive undertaking to build nine artificial islands.

The exciting part of this project is that we, along with our clients, are going to be able to watch it develop, beginning in 2022 as it heads for full functionality in 2040.

Taking one of the world's most iconic and successful cities and adding space to it to accommodate large projected population growth might be seen as an insurmountable challenge to some. But the Danes have done this before. Copenhagen itself is located on two islands, Zealand and Amager, so why not add nine more?

Clients touring Denmark or sailing a Baltic cruise will now have something new to watch as construction begins in earnest.

The islands will be 33 million square feet, and while a few of them will be housing-focused, the plan is that much of the space will be designed as a hub for digital and beyond, sustainable businesses and New Age commerce.

How do you build something like this? The plan is to use surplus dirt from the construction projects themselves. This will require an estimated 900 million cubic feet of filler.

It is anticipated that wind turbines will be used for power generation. Teams of consultants are drawing up plans for wildlife-supporting reefs and islets. There is going to be an abundance of fresh water. But along with that will be new gourmet restaurants, public transportation, high-paying jobs and beaches.

Building for the future

The scale of this project is impressive, and it obviously will come at a cost. The smaller Lynetteholmen Project, the creation of one island for housing just off the main tourism area, is expected to cost just over 20 billion Danish kroner. Yes, 20 billion! But that actually converts to about $3 billion.

One of the most exciting parts of the Holmene Project is the themes of the islands. The government's goal is to create the most innovative industry environment on Earth. Sections are planned for biotech, green tech and life sciences. Most intriguing will be an island or two set aside for industries that have not yet been born.

So now, more than ever, our clients will have reasons to spend time in Copenhagen and glance out just beyond the shore as a progressive city expands outward rather than upward.

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