chapter  14
12 Pages

An Experimental Aesthetic Audit of a City Within a City: The Case of Christiania

WithRaphaële Bidault-Waddington

Around 1971, a small group of hippies formed a squat on the edge of Copenhagen, abandoned by the Danish Ministry of Defence in the late 1960s, in order to create a “free city,” which they called Christiannia. Being some of these settlers of Norwegian origin, the new city was apparently named after an ancient denomination of Oslo. Unlike many American or European hippie communes, which vanished almost as quickly as they appeared, Christiania found a viable and long-term way of operating. Over the years, the population of Christiania grew to 1000, houses were constructed, ancient buildings restored, and efficient public infrastructures were implemented. Furthermore, Christiania set up its own system of laws and developed its own central administrative system to manage its economy and offer public services such as mail, garbage collection and recycling, kindergarten, etc. Many activities (including illegal drug activities) and businesses bloomed, some of them becoming national corporations. An extremely rich and dynamic cultural life is the foundation of the city’s unique and specific identity. Almost seen as a “hippie land” Christiania is physically characterized by its outdoor wall paintings, car-free streets and wild vegetation between buildings.