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Why Has Scandinavia's Biggest Development Project Abandoned its Master Plan?

The signature piece of Copenhagen's enormous Ørestad experiment, by Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind, is no more.
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Henry Grabar

In the '90s, Copenhagen began one of Europe's most ambitious urban design projects. A new finger of development, three miles long and only 2,000 feet wide, would point south from the city across the island of Amager. With Amager's Øresund Bridge -- Northern Europe's first and only road to Sweden -- under construction, Copenhagen and Malmo had the potential to form an international metropolitan area. Along a metro line, bisected by the highway to Sweden, and 15 minutes from Denmark’s biggest international airport, the latest piece of development, Ørestad, would be the crossroads of Scandinavia.

At that time, Ørestad was nothing but grass, scrub, and highway. The breakneck pace of construction in the time since has earned it the nickname Copenhagen's Dubai. By the time it's completed, a hundred thousand people are expected to live, work or study there.