If every building in Copenhagen had rain barrels like this one—that could be used for watering decorative plants—it would dramatically reduce the amount of energy needed to clean “waste water” as well as the amount of drinking water used in maintaining city gardens and flower beds. It would also help prepare us for more intense rain storms like the one that flooded a lot of the city two summers ago, by capturing large amounts of building runoff. This is incredibly cheap, simple technology that the City could be encouraging and requiring. The big fantasies of carbon neutrality that the City is working towards in 2025 look even more ridiculous to me when very basic things like this are not being implemented. The top-down way this city is designed is incredibly uncreative, insensitive and not very informed. The arrogance and detachment of how this city is designed by “experts” shows up in situations like this. The City, as I have written elsewhere (see my essay on Superkilen), is clearly more concerned with branding itself than actually taking urban ecology seriously. A multiplicity of voices is needed if Copenhagen is going to really become a leader. This can be achieved when the design process is seriously opened up and the expert culture that drives how this city makes decisions is changed. There are many citizens, activists, designers, urban gardeners, and others, that could teach a lot to the City, but this will take a major shift in the status quo.

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