Sustainable Cities™

Vesterbro/Copenhagen: from junkspace to urban oasis at children's level

In a converted toilet building between two housing blocks in Vesterbro, the city's children receive exciting teaching about sustainability and the city's nature and biodiversity.


Vesterbro is one of the neighborhoods in Denmark which has fewest green areas per capita, and most people do not connect Vesterbro with nature and certainly not with environmental and nature guidance sessions for children. Saxo Park has gone from being a green area of Vesterbro plagued by drug users to today being an open urban oasis with nature- and environmental experiences and teaching of children. In the midst of Saxo park, a ramshackle toilet building in the area was converted into Miljø- og Naturværksted Træstubben (literally, the Environment and Nature Workshop treestump), an urban ecological demonstration and culturehouse.


Træstubben's name comes from its appearance similar to a treestump, which matches its surroundings. Inside you will find a nice teaching room with a fireplace, stuffed animals and various creative teaching materials. Outside there are small exercise hills and an animal and insect tower. There are plants that are edible and useful for cosmetics. Inspired by permaculture and plant design, there are effective, space saving and thus city-friendly garden solutions, for instance, herbal spirals and raised beds. The goal of the initiative has in particular been to strengthen the area's biodiversity as to plants, animals, insects and birds. With Træstubben,  kindergartens and preschool children now have a varied micro topos - a little wilderness in the middle of town - to lose themselves in.

For the city's child care institutions, Træstubben extends the season, meaning that activities need not be canceled if, for instance, it rains or snows. Then activities simply move inside. Through singing, games and practical tasks, the youngest citizens in the local community are made aware of nature, the environment, organic food and sustainable use of resources and sustainable solutions. Focus is among other things on the efficiency of recycled materials, solar panels and rainwater collection. Institutions' recurrent use of the site means that children, teachers and parents perceive Træstubben and the green area around the building as a positive and welcome part of their lives. Besides being a public area, all citizens can participate and experience the site in various ways, for example, by booking Træstubben as a working and meeting place and by participating in activity and instruction sessions.

Moreover, there are monthly open garden events where everyone is welcome. The next one is this Thursday 7 April 2011, at. 15-18. Info here. One can become a volunteer or sponsor, and thus become part of the cohesiveness that Træstubben embodies. Advice is also given on everything from technical to financial aspects with regard to creating similar initiatives. The Environment and Nature Workshop Træstubben has received Copenhagen's City Council's Environmental Award in 2010 and has so far had 7,346 visiting children. The whole area around the building has a new and much greener image. An important reason for its success is that it is a very locally rooted and user-driven project. This has very much helped to ensure local citizens' commitment and the use of the activities that Træstubben revolves around.

Susanne Arkitekt Have Planteforklaring

Close by, the vertical garden:

Several times a day, harvested rainwater flows down the gable end of a block of flats in Vesterbro in Copenhagen, helping to relieve the burden on the city's sewers and its groundwater. By means of natural processes, a pond in front of the gable cleanses the water. The localised utilisation of rainwater means that none of the water from the building encumbers the city sewers or the municipal sewage treatment plant. A climate preservation initiative such as this vertical rainwater garden is also a fine example of elevated green architecture. Read more here.

Pixi books:

6 pixi books have been published on the season's activities, which helps the children remember and share the experiences with their families and friends.

Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014