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The Garden City

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Hamlets Vænge was constructed during the period from 1917-28 and was under strong inspiration from the contemporary English garden cities.
(Photo: Helsingør Bymuseum

The Garden Cities in Elsinore
One of the reformist thoughts which became important for urban development in Europe in the 20th century was the British idea of the “The Garden City””. It was supposed to be a completely new town. Preferably right outside the metropolis. It was supposed to unite the benefits of the big city: social life, jobs, institutions etc. with the benefits of the countryside: light and air, low dwellings with gardens and green areas.
The inspiration was to come from the old villages and the nationally domestic pre-industrial style of building.
Both during and after WWI this development took place in Denmark and the result was a number of garden cities with a distinctively Danish character. Especially inspired by the building style of Southern Jutland with Frisian attics and bay windows from Tønder. In Copenhagen you will find that Grøndalsvænge and Præstevangen are both good examples, and in Elsinore you can still enjoy the cultural gems Hamlets Vænge and “The Negro Village”.

Hamlets Vænge
Hamlets Vænge was constructed in 4 stages during the period 1917-1928. The estate, which was supported by the state, consists of 43 houses and the architect during the period 1917-1921 was Poul Holsøe ( 1873-1965) from Elsinore. He was also one of the architects behind Grøndalsvænge in Copenhagen and is almost as “Southern Jutlandish” in his style of building with various forms of bay windows. Common to the graceful houses are the red half-hipped roofs.
The houses were constructed around a common access, Hamlets Vænge, as detached and semidetached houses with comparatively small flats. But with common wash-basements and nice green common grounds around each house.
The substantial financial support given by Helsingør Skibsværft (shipyard) towards the expansion of the built-up area down towards Gl. Hellebækvej meant that these flats were mainly reserved for workers and employees from the shipyard.
Along Esrumvej
The last stage, the buildings along Esrumvej were designed by another architect from Elsinore, Karl Zandersen (1889-1973). Zandersen was locally famous for having designed a number of villas in Elsinore, but maybe mainly for his version of another contemporary beautiful garden city in Elsinore. “The Negro Village”. See below.
Karl Zandersen did not have the same financial means at his disposal at Esrumvej as Holsøe did and therefore he left out the bay windows. Neither did the finances allow for Holsøe’s more varied buildings, so all the houses were identical semidetached houses. Still the buildings possessed Zandersen’s characteristic solidly built quality houses. See for instance his own house at no 10, Møllebakken.
Poul Holsøe<br>(1873-1965)
Poul Holsøe
(1873-1965)
Hamlets Vænge<br> Four stages
Hamlets Vænge
Four stages
Hamlets Vænge 1920´ erne
Hamlets Vænge 1920´ erne
Bay windows in Hamlets Vænge
Bay windows in Hamlets Vænge
Hamlets Vænge Esrumvej
Hamlets Vænge Esrumvej
Hamlets Vænge 2009
Hamlets Vænge 2009
Hamlets Vænge 2009
Hamlets Vænge 2009
Hamlets Vænge 2009
Hamlets Vænge 2009

The Negro Village
The Negro Village is from 1920-21 and was created by the local architect Karl Zandersen in the heavily undulating grounds which were originally laid out for allotment gardens.
The garden city consists of 41 houses with altogether 68 flats. It is an enclave of 1- and 2-family houses.
The background for the construction was also in this case the great housing shortage around WWI. A number of housing societies were set up supported by the council. Thus the council put an area at disposal where Rosenkildevej joins Gefionsvej for “Andelsbyggeforeningen Helsingør” (a building society), established in 1920 by some employees. Primarily teachers and railway workers.
One of several theories for the somewhat politically incorrect name of the estate: The Negro Village, was supposed to be the black uniforms of the railway people!
The Social Democratic Mayor, Peder Christensen, was – here,too- the dynamic starter and had his way when the roads around the estate got prestigious names, named after former mayors. For instance: Olriksvej, Rosenstandsvej and Stenfeldtsvej.
The praxis and evaluation of the posterity
Gradually the interest shifted from the suburbs of the industrial towns to functionalistic house blocks, and culturally radical architects and town-planners among others called the ideas behind the garden cities reactionary and oldfashioned.
The middle classes and the bourgeoisie were mainly interested in individualistic, detached villas.
After WWII the interest in the idea behind the garden cities was renewed, though. In Denmark in the 80’ties under the name high-density/low-rise housing. People had got fed up with the conformist blocks and high-rises.
Karl Zandersen<br>(1889-1973)
Karl Zandersen
(1889-1973)
The Co-op in the “Negro Village”
The Co-op in the “Negro Village”
The Negro Villag
The Negro Villag
The Negro Villag
The Negro Villag
Bust of King Peder
Bust of King Peder

©  Øresundstid 2009