Christian Wichmann Matthiessen
President of IGU Urban Commission 2008-2012
I was shocked when I received last Sunday evening, the email from his son Mads Wichmann announcing that Christian passed away. I transmitted to the list and to the IGU executives without understanding what I was doing, and then a rain of messages arrived, that were both saddened and wishing to testimony to his carrier and his great kindness. The messages came from all the parts of the world (see below) demonstrating the print he left everywhere he went, creating sympathy and friendship.
Christian was the President of the IGU Urban Commission from 2008 to 2012 called “Emerging Urban Transformations”. He managed it with a high professional skills, raising the scientific level with a great open mind to all academic schools and encouraging all colleagues and in particular the young scholars.
He never boasted about his recognitions like the Knight of the first order of the Dannebrog he received in 2010 and the numerous high positions he occupied including: President for the Danish National Committee of Geography (1998-2012), Danish delegate to the International Geographical Union (1998-2012), Member of the board of directors for the Royal Danish Geographical Society (1986-), vice president (2007-), member of the board of directors European Institute of Comparative Urban Research (1988-2012), European Network of Universities in Capital Cities (1990-2007), member of the board of directors Center for Regional and Tourism Research (2003-), president 2006-, Wonderful Copenhagen (2003-). Member of Academia Europaea, member of the Danish National Committee of International Committees of Scientific Unions (1998-2012). Director & chairman Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen 1986-90, 1996-99. Vice-president for the European Commission COST action: land use and transport (1996-2001). Member of the Danish Government Commission on Infrastructural Investments (2006-2008). Danish-Swedish Bridge-builder of the year 1994, Bridge-building Award 1994, University of Helsinki Medal 1999.
This long list attests of his full involvement in the scientific community, in the Copenhagen planning, and in the building of Europe.
These charges nourished his scientific carrier and inspired him for the great papers with some of them will remain seminal (for a complete list):
- 2014: with Andersson, DE, Gunessee, S & Find, S 'The geography of Chinese science' Environment and Planning A, vol 46, no. 12, pp. 2950-2971
- 2011: Research nodes and networks. in DE Andersson, ÅE Andersson & C Mellander (eds), Handbook of creative cities. Edward Elgar Publishing, Incorporated, Cheltenham, pp. 211-228.
- 2010: with Annette Winkel Schwarz and Søren Find: World Cities of Scientific Knowledge: Systems, Networks and Potential Dynamics. An Analysis Based on Bibliometric Indicators, Urban Studies, Vol 47, Issue 9, pp. 1879 - 1897
- 2010, The Øresund region and Baltic Sea area in an international urban system perspective: roles and networks. in A Olshov (ed.), The Location of Nordic and Global Headquarters 2010. 1 edn, Øi Service, Malmö, pp. 10-45.
- 2007: Denmark's national urban showcase: the Öresund area regional development in Leo van den Berg, Erik Braun, Jan van der Meer (eds.): National policy responses to urban challenges in Europe, Ashgate
- 2002: with Schwarz, AW & Find, S, 'The ups and downs of global research centers' Science, no. vol. 297, no. 5586, pp. 1476-1477.
- 2000: Bridging the Öresund: Potential regional dynamics. Integration of Copenhagen (Denmark) and Malmö-Lund (Sweden). Across-border project on the European metropolitan level' Journal of Transport Geography, vol 8, pp. 171-180.
- 1999: with Schwarz, AW. Scientific Centers in Europe: An Analysis of Research Strength and Patterns of Specialisation Based on Bibliometric Indicators, Urban Studies, Vol 36, no. no. 3, pp. 453-477.
- 1999: Potential Integration of Copenhagen and Malmö-Lund: A Cross Border Project on the European Metropolitan Level. in Proceedings of the Øresund Link Dredging and Reclamation Conference. Øresund Link, Copenhagen, pp. 1-10.
- 1992: Urban Population in Denmark: Patterns of Location and Change in a Long-Term Perspective. In Innovation and Urban Population Dynamics: A Multilevel Process (pp. 11-30). Aldershot: Avebury.
- 1991: Denmark on the European urban scene. A crossroad location. Copenhagen: The centre of Growth. København: Danmarks Nationalleksikon.
- 1986: Greater Copenhagen: deindustrialization and dynamic growth based on new business activities. in The City: the Engine Behind Economic Recovery. vol. 1, Rotterdam, pp. 1-30.
- 1976: 'Land use development in greater Copenhagen' Geografisk Tidsskrift, vol 75, pp. 65-69.
This short sample of his publications outlines how far his interest touched many fields: cities, demography, Copenhagen, cross-border region of south Scandinavia, transportation, science, clusters (Medicon Valley), China… He knew that planning of cities and planning of transportation where linked to economic, technologic and scientific development and he embraced all these topics in order to better understand the future of the world, the future of Europe and the future of his cherished country Denmark.
Beside his intellectual curiosity and open mind, his generosity and his great lovingkindness will be the thing we will remember of him. He respected all kinds of scientific work and always searched for compromises. I will always remember these 14 hours in a bus from Hyderabad to Bangalore, with hot temperature and boring time… Christian stayed smiling about the situation…
Christian, we will never forget you in our commission. We acknowledge your high contribution to Urban geography, nourished by multiple sources of new scientific trends, new techniques and new policies. But overall, you were our father, our brother, who supported and comforted everybody, always pleased and smiling… You stay alive in our minds and hearts…
President IGU Urban Commission 2012-...