Sønderborg – The Little City That Could

Black smoke and white steam

Sonderborg is the 33rd biggest city in Denmark the 111th biggest country in the world. Not a particular big engine by any means. But what it lacks in size it makes up for in guts.

Like many other places, Sonderborg is seeing its share of an uphill battle in the wake of the recession but in no way has it given up trying to pull itself over the hill.

As it neared the top of the grade, which had so discouraged the larger engines, it went more slowly. However, it still kept saying, “I–think–I–can, I–think–I–can.” It reached the top by drawing on bravery and then went on down the grade, congratulating itself by saying, “I thought I could, I thought I could.”

— The Little Engine That Could

While Sonderborg is chanting “I think I can” it has embarked on a couple of impressive projects:

Project Zero

In 2009 Sonderborg became the first Danish city to build a Zero+ house, i.e. one that produces more energy than it consumes. This has developed into Project Zero, an ambitious project that aims to make Sonderborg carbon neutral by 2029. This is a fantastic initiative where rather than talking about what is not working, the city is acting to rectify the situation.

Frank Gehry’s Masterplan

“…To create a place where it is worthwile to live, to work and to enjoy our life”. That is what Frank Gehry‘s masterplan for the Sonderborg harbour area aims to achieve. This is the guy who turned Bilbao from backwater to top tourist destination with his Guggenheim museum. The project, if realised, will transform the harbour area into a thriving urban area that includes recreational, cultural, commercial and residential areas.


European Capital of Culture 2017

Every year two European cities are chosen as European cities of culture to celebrate the diversity and cultural ties between European cultures. In 2017 it is Denmark’s turn to nominate a city, and Sonderborg (for the cross-border region of Sonderjylland-Schleswig) is one of only two cities in the running. *Fingers crossed* for Sonderborgs bid! The decision will be known by the end of next year.

So lots of interesting projects in the works. We hope Sonderborg is able to pull the load over the mountain – Choo chooooo!

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