Europe’s most liveable city? The secret of Odense’s post-industrial revolution

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Europe's most liveable city? The secret of Odense's post-industrial revolution
© Thomas D Mørkeberg
Europe's most liveable city? The secret of Odense's post-industrial revolution
© Thomas D Mørkeberg

Denmark’s third-largest city has transformed its prospects by making itself a desirable place to live and invest. At the heart of this change is an extraordinary commitment to getting the whole city cycling

The huge, wooden scale model of Odense, inside a temporary information centre opposite the town hall, looks initially like a replica of the Danish city. But give them a few minutes and a local would begin to spot some differences, especially to the main traffic route bisecting the urban centre.

Thomas B Thriges Street was built in the 1960s as a solution to growing car congestion: a fast-moving, four-lane road laid like a curved ribbon across the middle of the city.

That ribbon was first trimmed 18 months ago when a central section of the street was closed to vehicles. More is to come in the next few years, as the rest of the road is transformed into a new heart for Odense, reserved for bikes and pedestrians, and lined with shops, cafes and homes.

It is the centrepiece of a hugely ambitious, and initially controversial, near-£3bn makeover for Denmark’s third-biggest city, which is attempting to revive itself from slightly struggling post-industrial area to a hi-tech hub for education and industry. And at the centre of this transformation is the thing Odense boasts it does as well as anywhere in Europe: liveability. […]

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