Blog: Carlsberg builds new life from Copenhagen brewery
Andy Morton | 15 December 2014
The New Carlsberg Brewery was buily in 1901 and closed in 2008
“Ah, yes, you've hit upon a very sensitive area,” says Thomas, my guide at the Carlsberg Brewery in Copenhagen last Friday.
We are in the brew house at the New Carlsberg Brewery, a majestic cathedral to beer built in 1901, and I ask about the decision to close it down in 2008. All production was moved out of the city, meaning that for the first time since 1847, no Carlsberg was brewed in Copenhagen.
Thomas says the closure was a wrench, and not just to the employees it affected - Carlsberg's CEO at the time of the decision, Nils Andersen, said it was one of the hardest he had made during his tenure. Andersen left the company shortly before the brewery was shut.
The reasons behind the move were, of course, financial. In 2008, Carlsberg bought Scottish & Newcastle, and for the first time had a shot at becoming a truly global brewer. The site in central Copenhagen, despite its historical trappings, was a drag on profits and had a logistical limit to the amount of beer it could produce. Better, then, to transfer production to Carlsberg's Fredericia brewery in Jutland.
The Copenhagen site has not lain dormant - the area still houses Carlsberg's global and Denmark teams as well as a bustling visitor's centre that is Copenhagen's second most popular tourist attraction after Tivoli Gardens.
But it is in the process of undergoing a massive transformation, that over the next 15 years will see it turn into a major new business and residential area for Copenhagen.
Some 600,000 square metres are to be redeveloped, with Carlsberg's historic buildings included in the plans. According to the blueprint from Danish architectural firm Entasis, the new city, dubbed Our Town, will feature short alleyways interspersed with squares and parks. Carlsberg's underground network of warehouses and cellars, which total several kilometres, will also be incorporated into the grand design. (For an idea of what it will look like, click here and here.)
All this is some way off and last week there were only a few signs of construction work. But the process is in motion and a new visitors centre is set to open in 2017. The following year, Carlsberg's global headquarters will shift to a purpose-built building a few hundred metres up the road from the current one.
For employees, it will be the first step in an ambitious new era for the Copenhagen landmark. And according to Thomas, it will also be one that adheres to the original ethos of Carlsberg founder JC Jacobsen.
“He always wanted his company to work for the good of Denmark and the Danish people,” Thomas says. “And this project will do exactly that.”
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