Friends of The Coal Bridge
The redevelopment of the South Harbour area in Aarhus’s Sydhavnen district in Denmark had a disused old Coal Bridge running through the middle of the development project, which provided a vast social enterprise opportunity.
Sydhavnen is an ex-industrial area that was beginning to be gentrified with mostly artists, entrepreneurs and the creative industries moving into the once abandoned area. There was a concern from Martin Thim, one of the local entrepreneurs and co-founders of Friends of The Coal Bridge, that boring and unimaginative office and housing blocks would not be in-keeping with the area and be a poor fit and missed opportunity.
One main issue with the development is that at the centre of it stands the Coal Bridge which has an old car park beneath it which as its unused has become an place inhabited mostly by rough sleepers and drug users who would congregate in grotty shelters.
The main focus of Martin Thim and his team at Friends of The Coal Bridge is to both improve the district but not drive those using it and needing this area as per most case studies of areas that become gentrified and developed. Their initiative now gives the car parks inhabitants better shelters and access to toilets and washing facilities that the previously didn’t have. By working with the occupants who have The Coal Bridge as their home rather than forcing them out, this is avoiding the more toxic side effects of the vast change to this area.
Those people in need of help from drug use and other such issues are getting professional help they otherwise didn’t receive, the homeless people are not being pushed out, but worked with. The top of the Coal Bridge has plans for a High Line style make over in-line with the famous New York High Line. There is currently a program of events such as food markets, music and cultural events under the bridge, but working with it and the surrounding, not against it and not with the pure focus of mass development and profit.