Bjørn Antell’s ’21 passion for waterfront architecture and ship design dates back to his childhood, when he learned to sail dinghies near his California home. “I’d sail up and down the slips to look at the new boats and buildings in the harbors,” he says.
So it’s not surprising that when Antell applied for a Student International Initiative Fund (SIIF) grant to be used for a project of his own choosing during his study abroad experience in Copenhagen, Denmark, he chose to focus on waterfront and naval architecture across Scandinavia.
Antell’s main academic focus while living in Denmark was to learn as much as he could about New Nordic Design, which focuses on sustainability through architecture. With his SIIF grant, the architectural studies major expanded his explorations to the sustainable waterfront rehabilitation of three major Scandinavian cities: Copenhagen, Denmark; Stockholm, Sweden; and Oslo, Norway.
With Copenhagen as his destination for the first two months of his semester-long session, he found the city fertile ground for the study of urban renewal. He explains that there have been “…nearly two decades of urban regeneration in Copenhagen Harbor due to the shut down and relocation of manufacturing companies that needed harbor-front access while also needing to make space for the roughly 1,000 new Copenhageners every month.”
Later, Antell traveled to Oslo and Stockholm to explore those cities’ waterfronts, which were, he says, “breathtaking.” Stockholm, for example, has maintained historical aspects of its waterfront while allowing for modernization as needed.
“Along the Ostermalm side of the harbor for example, was a wide cobblestone landing used for unloading smaller trawlers from around the fjords,” he says. “While set back behind the landing were lanes for cars, divided by a vegetated area that the Stockholm tram traveled through.”
Oslo also impressed Antell. “Norway has been able to fully rejuvenate the existing waterfront and transportation infrastructure, while also building valuable waterfront property out into the harbor through man-made peninsulas,” he says.
In the end, Antell says, visiting the three cities and talking to residents while there helped him to understand how citizens influence what their capital cities should look like, and what role global economics plays in urban waterfront development. “[I learned] how each city is trying to solve the stresses of steady population growth and improve their position on the global market,” he says.