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Review — Sofiegården: In the footsteps of the squatters

Dorms Disclosed — Sofiegården has a history as a home to a group of 1960s' squatters’ rights activists. This has been continued, at least in the sense of affordable housing to several hundred students, who run the place themselves.

In the 1960s, the Sofiegården building complex was occupied by young squatters’ rights activists, the ‘slumstormer’s, that included the founders of the iconic Danish rock band Gasolin with Kim Larsen and Wili Jønsson. After four years of conflict, the city of Copenhagen finally succeeded in 1969 in throwing the residents out on to the street and demolished the dilapidated buildings.

Sofiegården:

Address: Sofiegade 1, 1418 København K.

www.sofiegaarden.dk

Monthly rent: DKK 2,300-4,200

Average age: 23-24

Application requirements and process: You need to study a certified Danish degree programme. Waiting list.

 

But the dream of cheap housing for young people still lives on, and Sofiegården, with its 156 flats, is home to approximately 240 residents. The place is a cross between a residence hall and a shared house, where you can live in a single room, your own apartment, or in a shared flat.

Socialist mindset

»What makes this dorm unique is that it’s a very mixed crowd that lives here,« says Asta Møller Neimann, who herself lives in a shared home in Sofiegården, ‘Steinfass’.

»People are also slightly older than at the other residence halls.«

SEE THE FULL ‘DORMS DISCLOSED’ UNIVERSITY POST SERIES: Reviews by student residents of dorms and residence halls in Copenhagen

This is probably because the waiting list is so long that you can easily end up waiting three years for a room. Several of the residents also have children, (and they can make use of the kindergarten that the residence hall shares a yard with).

»This also means that it is a yard that is less social in some ways,« says Asta Møller Neimann. »There is no party every day. You aren’t, naturally, together with each other, if you don’t do something for it yourself.«

At the same time, however, Sofiegården is built upon a »socialist mindset« due to its history. It is therefore the residents themselves who, through their residents’ councils and committees, determine themselves what kind of community they would like to have.

»There is a lot of stuff which is run by the residents themselves,« says Asta Møller Neimann. »People in the yard often take the initiative for fun and social events.«

There are around 240 residents at Sofiegården, which contains both a classic residence hall and a shared home. 
image: Foto: Anna Trads Viemose.
The rooms are different sizes, and the prices range between DKK 2,300 and 4,200. 
image: Foto: Anna Trads Viemose.
The dormitory's workshop.
image: Foto: Anna Trads Viemose.

Greenhouse, ceramics room and canal view

On the roof is the Sofiegården greenhouse, which is also the focal point for one of the social committees at the dormitory, namely the greenhouse committee. They organise parties and get-togethers up there, where they offer snacks and drinks made from their own crops.

There are often also other events that bring together the residents of the dorm, including yoga classes, communal dining, flea markets, a summer party, a Friday bar and soccer night.

»If you want to be social, there is ample opportunity to do this,« says Asta Møller Neimann. »But you have to take the initiative yourself. People don’t exactly kick in the door to your room.«

Dorms Disclosed

Reviews by student residents of dorms and residence halls on the University Post in Copenhagen here.

In addition to greenhouse and party rooms, you also have access to a large number of small rooms in the basement, which include a pottery room, a workshop and a gym.

The rent varies, depending on the room type and size, but in general, Asta Møller Neimann says that staying at Sofiegården is »ridiculously cheap«. She pays DKK 2,300 a month – and this for a view of the canal.

The downside is the noise that comes from living so centrally in the city.

»The canal cruise comes sailing past every five minutes,« sighs Asta Møller Neimann. »You get this as part of the package.«

SEE THE FULL ‘DORMS DISCLOSED’ UNIVERSITY POST SERIES: Reviews by student residents of dorms and residence halls in Copenhagen

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