Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Whither Christiania?

Christiania, Copenhagen's famed squatter colony where all property is owned and administered collectively, could be facing extinction as a result of Danish government plans to privatize housing and build 400 new condominiums there. The colony's 800-plus non-taxpaying residents, who now pay about $40/month in rent, would be forced to join a public housing organization and pay a "normal" rent of up to $762/month, an increase of over 1000%.

The colony was established in 1971 when hippie squatters occupied an abandoned military base on the edge of town. Although hard drugs are prohibited, Christiania had an open-air hash market for many years called "Pusher Street" before Danish authorities shut it down in 2004 (link via Boing Boing via Squattercity).


Karla said...

I got to Pusher Street and Christiania just before it got shut down. It was interesting, but honestly, as a social experiment it's doomed. It's on prime real estate and it looks, well, exactly what you'd expect a 60's commune to look like. Very temporary and ramshackle looking. Plus it did draw alot of crime and annoying tourists. (ahem.) Like the rougher sorts who would go to the nasty bits of Amsterdam. It felt very unsafe and unsavory. I saw fights and all sorts of stuff.
Shutting it down is not popular, but the residents didn't really do anything to address the crime issues. A little too laissez faire for their own good. Scandinavia likes neatness and organization...and also prime real estate for yet more expensive condos.
It's a shame but there you go.
Of course I bought some pot....sheesh. When in Rome.....

Greg said...

I'd visit Christiania, but I doubt I'd want to spend more than an hour or so there. It sounds like a noble-but-flawed social experiment.