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Activists turn junk into sustainable floating community in Copenhagen

Idealism and creativity come alive to create a water world. Building festival starts Friday

During ungodly hours of the night you can find two Faculty of Life Science students, Dave Washington and Kasper Bjørnson, in an old, graffiti-laden warehouse.

Armed with paintbrushes and angle grinders they, along with thirty other people, are building a floating ‘kurarken’, or wellness ark. Together they are trying to build a model community that reflects sustainable living, self-reliance and social equality.

See our photo story from the Floating City warehouse here.

Organized chaos

It was by word of mouth that Kasper, who is Danish, and Dave, who is British, found the initiative. As students in the Natural Resources and Sustainable Forestry programme, joining the Floating City community in Sydhavn was a way to get hands on practical experience that they might otherwise miss out on in university.

Although each member of the group has a separate idea of what the project should be everyone agrees that this is a free zone for creative expression.

»There isn’t one person who has a clue what is going on, but collectively it seems to work,« chuckles Dave.

Despite this they do have their act together. The project, which started last year, has received funding from the EU and from several Danish funds.

Party for the planet

For the past month the two life science students and the other members of the community have been planning a three-week long building festival, to start Friday, to demonstrate sustainable energy solutions.

Solar heated water, wind power driven objects, wood burning saunas, and clay ovens are all on the list of things to be collectively constructed during the festival.

»The idea of creating something has a positive effect on people’s perceptions towards global climate change and well-being,« remarks Dave.

The long-term outcome of the project is to create an armada of floating platforms made from recycled materials. These boats would be self-sufficient and carbon-neutral, and would travel the coastal waters of Denmark to promote climate change initiatives.

Sink or float – It doesn’t really matter

Kasper’s appeal to other students is »to step out of box and challenge established truths.«

He is particularly frustrated with the current academic system in Denmark. He feels that he is just filling a role in a system that has already been predefined for him. On the other hand, Bjørnson thinks that he is doing a good job of merging practical and theoretical knowledge as a member of the floating city.

In the end, Dave says, »It doesn’t really matter if it floats. The project isn’t really about that – it is about working together and raising awareness of issues related to climate change.«

Read more about the Floating City on their website here.

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