From 1690 to 1993, Holmen was the main base for the Danish navy and also Denmark’s biggest workplace for all three centuries.
At the beginning of the 1990s, an increasing number of military activities were transferred from Holmen, and when the naval station in Copenhagen was officially closed in 1993 and the facilities were downgraded, the way was paved for a completely new quarter with creative educational institutions, the Opera, commercial properties, and housing in old and new buildings.
Because Holmen was kept in shape by the Navy for 300 years, many of the old shipyard facilities, sheds, smithies, and halls are so well preserved that they will be used in creating the new quarter.
New life in old buildings
The former military holdings consist of Dokøen, Christiansholm, Nyholm, Arsenaløen, Margretheholm, and Quintus. Nyholm and Quintus are still under military jurisdiction. Preliminary work is under way to transform Margretheholm into a completely new residential neighborhood. The other islands have been developed to create an attractive and creative quarter.
Many of the buildings have been converted into housing, commercial properties, and institutions. Two gunboat sheds have been transformed into common facilities for the cooperative apartments in the Halvtolv complex. Condos have been built in the former boatyard from 1867. The hall where torpedo boats were built has also been converted into a distinctive condominium complex around the original basin, where other buildings normally have a courtyard.
Along the eastern bank of Frederiksholm, facing Christiania, are charming, 200-year-old cannon-boat sheds that now house small creative companies. The roofs have new skylights and new tiles, but their crooked walls have not been straightened. New housing and summer cafés are part of Holmen's new life.
Access to Holmen has been on the political agenda for many years, and the debate reached new heights when the Opera was inaugurated on Dokøen in 2002. No bridge leads direct to the area and motorists have to drive past the ramparts that separate Amager from the rest of Copenhagen to reach it. When the temporary Luftkastellet beach bar was opened a few years ago and became very popular, some of the new residents in the area complained of too much noise when the bar and the Opera closed and everyone had to get home from Holmen. Some of the problems were alleviated when the harbor buses began a new route from Kvæsthusbroen, saving Holmen's many students and opera guests a detour. Two generous donors have also offered to build a bridge across the Fairway, but nobody knows if plans will be implemented.
Last updated Tuesday, January 21, 2014