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Big plans continue for student city

Hopes of relieving Copenhagen's housing squeeze

The Danish capital has a reputation for being an innovative and sustainable city with everything you could ask for. Only one thing missing: Affordable student housing for local and international students alike.

But Jørgen Rossen, the mastermind behind the International Student City of Copenhagen (ISCC), reckons that he has the city’s answer to the housing shortage.

The ISCC plan includes accommodation for approximately 5,000 students in Ørestaden, just four metro stations away from Kongens Nytov. The project is set to be the Nordic equivalent to the successful Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (CIUP), founded in the 1920s and attended by Prince Henrik and many other Danes.

See the now more detailed plans of the project here.

A Nordic leader

André Honnorat, the founder of CIUP in Paris and a Minister of Education, created the international city after witnessing millions being killed in the trenches in World War I. Honnorat was passionate about young people meeting when they are young in order to build friendships that would last for the rest of their lives with the hopes of avoiding these devastating wars.

The same empowering sentiment is what inspired Rossen to create ISCC, which is planned to be the second-ever international city to be located close to a capital. A University of Copenhagen graduate, he believes that the housing crisis in Copenhagen is appalling and acknowledges the importance of students being together:

”Youth want to be with youth! The girls want to meet boys, and boys want to meet girls [sic], and the intellectual youth want to meet and talk together!”, he says. The project could attract youth from all over the world, branding Copenhagen as an international hot bed, so to speak.

More than just a bed for the night

Today, the CIUP in Paris hosts up to 40 national houses for over 10,000 students from more than 120 nations. Each national house is not allowed more than 50 per cent of their residents to be of that particular nationality, ensuring that young people are exposed to other cultures and create an international network.

The facilities include a library, theatre and concert halls, swimming pool, sports facilities, cafés, restaurants and saloons. The ISCC intends to replicate this with multidisciplinary activities and also create opportunities for work experience.

But the advantages associated with building an international city don’t end with the students. A recent article in daily newspaper Berlingske states that ‘more foreign students in Denmark means more money in the treasury,’ in the form of more tax revenues.

Long-term financial benefits

Fiscal benefits aside, there is a need to develop more sustainable housing options, says Frank Jensen, Mayor of Copenhagen.

“The challenges are great because Copenhagen is more popular than ever,” adding that ”the accommodation capacity that was built during the boom is to be used.”

A short term solution to the crisis would be for more private companies to build small, decentralized apartments. Although ISCC would take an estimated 10-15 years to complete, if you look 25 years ahead it is a big asset for Copenhagen financially, socially and internationally, the planners reckon.

Listen up, Copenhagen

While two pension funds are interested in funding ISCC, greater support needs to come from the government to secure the land and gain funding. The benefits are numerous, so what’s the reason behind the delay? There isn’t one, according to Rossen:

”Stupid Copenhagen – Why don’t you grab this idea and build this marvelous city and attract talented youth from all over Europe?”

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