This is the story about COWI's development from a small one-man engineering company to the global full-service consulting company COWI is today. Here, you can read about our many projects and innovative solutions, which have shaped the world for more than 90 years.
After working abroad for six years, young engineer Christen Ostenfeld returned to his hometown of Copenhagen in 1930. Full of creative energy, the 29-year old established his business in a small apartment in Copenhagen's working-class neighbourhood, Vesterbro, and went straight to work.
Ostenfeld in 1973
Just a stone's throw from the office, Ostenfeld's first major assignment was a comprehensive renovation of the run-down Scala theatre.
Above: This is a photo of the original National-Scala, Scandinavia's largest entertainment venue at the time.
With a short deadline, Ostenfeld had to work fast. He introduced prefabricated steel structures which allowed the contractors to keep up the pace, even in the cold Danish winter. One year later, in 1931, the official opening of the National-Scala took place with 2,000 guests, dressed to impress.
Ostenfeld was an immediate success – and he was determined not to rest on his laurels. Christen Ostenfeld used his strong network to generate a new business, and as an expert in bridges and structural engineering, he had plenty to do. He successfully developed a technique to create roofs and domes using barrel vault structures. With this technique, Ostenfeld designed factory and sport halls. He designed some of Denmark's most iconic buildings of the 1930s, including the Aggersund Bridge in Northern Denmark and K.B. Hallen in Copenhagen.
K.B. Hallen on Peter Bangs Vej in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen© cowi
The building was rebuilt in 1945 after being blown up during the Second World War. The hall burned down in 2011.© cowi
When K.B. Hallen burned down in 2011, COWI evaluated the damages, crosschecking with the original drawings from the COWI archive.© cowi
Gentofte Badminton Klub, a sports club in the suburbs of northern Copenhagen, moved in to its current badminton hall in 1936. Christen Ostenfeld's young engineering firm designed the project – and Ostenfeld himself stopped by to celebrate the inauguration of the building.
The 85,5 meter high Carlsberg-silo in Copenhagen´s Vesterbro neighborhood was engineered by Ostenfeld & Jønson in 1956-57.© COWI
Originally designed to store malt, the tower was later transformed to 35 housing units.© Carsten Rasmussen
Above: The suspension bridge at Uittamo in Finland, 1960, was an important technical breakthrough for Ostenfeld & Jønson.
Prestressed concrete turned out to be useful for more than just silos. The dynamic duo, Ostenfeld & Jønson – and their staff of now 50 people – became Scandinavia's undisputed favorite consulting firm within the construction industry.
The company went global with the opening of an office in Paris in 1955, and in 1960, Ostenfeld & Jønson opened branches in Ghana and Nigeria. An office in Tanzania was established in 1965. The company engineered several industrial buildings – among them a brewery – but quickly moved on to focus on water projects. Ostenfeld & Jønson won contracts all over the world, and was now engineering tunnels, tram depots, cotton mills, concrete tanks for boiling laundry water, wastewater treatment plants and countless swimming baths and bridges.
Green makeover. At Enghaveparken in Copenhagen, COWI was part of the project to create room for 24,000 m3 of stormwater as well as green and lush areas for citizens.© cowi
COWI performed consulting services for the design and the construction supervision of the approximately 218 km long section of Tanzam Highway in Tanzania.© Tanzania Highway
The Hålogaland Bridge crosses the Rombaks Fjord in the harsh environment of Northern Norway. As project manager, COWI provided basic and detailed design for the bridge as well as construction follow-up.© cowi
Expansion of Gardermoen Airport, Oslo - one of the greenest airport terminals in the world. In a Joint Venture with Nordic, Office of Architecture and Norconsult, COWI designed the project.© Ivan Brodey
Over the next decade, COWI and its French cooperation partner Systra will work on electrifying the Danish rail network.© cowi