By Lily Burris
Aarhus’ creative powerhouse Godsbanen is a cultural district home to studios, theatres and workshops for citizens to use.
This traditionally eclectic and creative center is being surrounded by modern construction. For more than 35 years, this area has provided space for people to discover their creative side.
Institut for X, the cultural association that dominates the area, came into the area in 2009 to help the city create the cultural area. Before they came in, Godsbanen was an industrial area owned by the municipality.
“They didn’t know what to do with it,” Institut for X project manager Christian Wendell said. “There was an economic crisis, so it was empty for a lot of years, and in those years we were allowed as an association to rent this place very, very cheaply from the city with the agreement that we would do a cultural place, but also that we had a lot of freedom to do what we wanted to do.”
Godsbanen sits amid a lot of construction. The architecture school’s new building is being built nearby Godsbanen’s municipal building. There are apartments that are being built even farther along the edges, such as Æggepakkeriet, which opened on Sunday, February 1. Wendell acknowledged that Institut for X has a relationship with that apartment’s developer and uses the proximity as a part of their sales pitch.
The Institut for X has been working with the city and the developers to keep the creativity in the area throughout the construction. The association became a part of the development over the years by including creative spaces in and on the fences and walls around the construction. Wendell described the role as being “watchdogs” in the planning.
“It’s always been kind of a vision that it should be a creative district and it’s also been politicized many times,” Wendell said. “We kind of have a good friend in the mayor also because it’s some particular place, looks very creative, and has actually become kind of place in Aarhus that wasn’t there before.”
There’s been a lot of broad support for the creative culture community in Godsbanen. The alderman for Department of Technical Services and Environment Bünyamin Simsek commented on the Institut for X’s involvement in Godsbaden’s development and their new 10 year lease, which he hasn’t signed yet due to the need to meet city building regulations by Institut for X.
“Institut for (X) contributes with something different to the area. They are sort of a just between companies in the area, and they also provide facilities for local start-ups,” Simsek told the danish newspaper Aarhus Stiftstidende in early January.
Institut for X isn’t trying to prevent the change from happening. They’re just trying to make sure the changes fit into the creative community that already exists in Godsbanen.
“We need to come with some very constructive inputs to this kind of process because if we just come and say, ‘We’re creative people, we just want our own space, don’t change anything,’ we wouldn’t get anything through,” Wendell said.