Copenhagen Gallery

Papirøen ("Paper Island")

Right opposite the Royal Danish Playhouse is Christiansholm, better known as Papirøen (“Paper Island”). You can probably remember the distinctive grey buildings with their red gates, which mysteriously faced the harbour. For several decades this was where the Procurement Association of the Danish Press stored their paper: hence the name, Papirøen. But when the Procurement Association of the Danish Press terminated their contract at the end of 2012, five years ahead of time, this paved the way for all sorts of new opportunities and exciting experiments on this central, and much sought-after site.

Until the end of 2012 Papirøen was one of the harbour's last industrial areas with no public access. But now that the paper store has departed, at last we can take a peek behind the red doors. Papirøen is now in a process of transformation from a closed-off industrial area to an open, vibrant urban area: a location for exhibitions, creative businesses, cafés and restaurants, but all on a temporary basis.

Public space experiments in 1:1

The temporary initiatives will investigate the Island's potential and provide ideas for permanent projects for the area's future. "We imagine that after 2017 Papirøen will house a mixture of housing, commerce and public service institutions. Now, in the course of the next four years, we have the chance to see what will works and what might not work. Papirøen will be a 1:1 urban laboratory," says Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, CEO of CPH City and Port Development, in an interview with Politiken.

New residents inject life into Papirøen

Most of Papirøens new residents have already set up shop and started to breathe life into the old industrial buildings. All the newcomers are creative, innovative companies, who will be the first to generate urban life on Papirøen. "It's a great opportunity to try out something new. The exciting thing about old, industrial buildings is how to preserve their soul, while using them for something else, when they are no longer used for their original purpose," says the property developer, Klaus Kastbjerg, to

Creative forces and countless experiences

The new residents include Experimentarium, who have taken over the two largest buildings, while their premises in Hellerup undergo renovation. The consultancy company, Carlberg/Christensen, COBE architects and the designer, Henrik Vibskov have also moved in, establishing a workshop, a showroom and, soon, a coffee bar by the name of Den Plettede Gris ("The Spotted Pig"). If you need more than just a latte to keep your hunger at bay, the team responsible for Restaurant Toldboden are launching the "Copenhagen Street Food" concept, which will fill one of the buildings with colourful food wagons and food from all over the world. Copenhagen Street Food opens in April 2014. Their mouth-watering advent will signify "full house" on Papirøen.

Models with growing pains

COBE Architects' new setting will be a source of inspiration and new opportunities. "Papirøen is an exciting place with lots of history. It is interesting how spaces, which were made for storing rolls of paper, can be used in entirely new ways 50 years later," says Stine Lund Hansen from COBE. The new premises have already made their mark. "Papirøen has given us loads of room for manoeuvre. That is already evident in our models, which are double the size of what they used to be!"

Huge plywood seagulls

On the quayside, seagulls have also been experiencing growing pains. Four massive plywood seagulls overlook the harbour fairway, a real eye-catcher on "Paper Island". The landscape architect, Kaare Skjerning, was the man behind the idea, while the gulls were constructed by WoodCouture. The work is the result of the Share the View competition, which was organised by the Innosite innovation platform. The idea was to create a landmark for Paper Island that would capture attention and arouse curiosity.

Monday, March 03, 2014 / By Ida Oline Frandsen

Last updated Monday, September 29, 2014