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Superkilen, an innovative public space in Copenhagen

June 10, 2013
After the reports from Brussels, Budapest, Gdansk and Marseille, Sara Van Rompaey visited the much discussed and award winning (AIA, Architizer etc) public space project in Copenhagen – Superkilen – delivering another great urban report. Enjoy!

Superkilen

Sometimes a project is already famous abroad but still rather unknown by the locals as seemed to be the case of the Superkilen park. This innovative public park in the North of Copenhagen was designed by the arts group Superflex with the collaboration of architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and landscape architects Topotek1. As it was one of the five finalists of the Mies Van Der Rohe European Union Award for Contemporary Architecture 2013, Superkilen park was at the top of my list last month when I had to be in Copenhagen.

With an article and a photo in the hand, I headed North by bus to the Nørrebro district of Copenhagen, the most edgy and ethnically diverse district of the city and one of the most socially challenged neighborhoods in Denmark.

The park is intended to celebrate this diversity. Filled with objects from around the globe, it is designed as a kind of world exposition for the local inhabitants, covering over 50 nationalities, who have been able to contribute their own ideas and artefacts to the project.

Stretching some 750 metres (2,460 ft) along either side of a public cycle track Superkilen is made up of three main areas: a red square, a black market and a green park. While The Red Square designates the modern, urban life with cafe, music and sports, The Black Market is the classic square with fountain and benches. The Green Park is a park for picnics, sports and walking the dog.

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I happened to arrive around 4 in the afternoon, which is the perfect moment to see the park in its full glory with playing kids just out of school and people cycling home after a working day.

Many of the objects in the park have been specially imported or copied from foreign designs. They include swings from Iraq, benches from Brazil, a fountain from Morocco and litter bins from England. There are neon signs from throughout the world advertising everything from a Russian hotel to a Chinese beauty parlor. In all, there are 108 plants and artifacts illustrating the ethnic diversity of the local population.

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THE RED SQUARE – MARKET/CULTURE/SPORT

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The red square, painted bright red, orange and pink, focuses on recreation and modern living.

As an extension of the sports and cultural activities at the Nørrebrohall, the Red Square is conceived as an urban extension of the internal life of the hall. A range of recreational offers and the large central square allows the local residents to meet each other through physical activity and games.

The colored surface is integrated both in terms of colors and material with the Nørrebrohall and its new main entrance, where the surface merges inside and outside in the new foyer.

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THE BLACK SQUARE – URBAN LIVING ROOM

The black market at the centre is the classic square with a fountain where neighbors can meet, with its barbecue grills and palm trees from China.

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Mimers Plads is the heart of the Superkilen Masterplan. This is where the locals meet around the Moroccan fountain, the Turkish bench, under the Japanese cherry-trees as the extension of the area’s patio. In weekdays, permanent tables, benches and grill facilities serve as an urban living room for backgammon, chess players etc.

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THE GREEN PARK – SPORT/PLAY

The green park, literally entirely green, has rolling hills, trees and plants suitable for picnics, sports and walking the dog.

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The activities of the Green Park with its soft hills and surfaces appeals to children, young people and families. A green landscape and a playground where families with children can meet for picnics, sunbathing and breaks in the grass, but also hockey tournaments, badminton games and workout between the hills.

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CONNECTIONS

Public transport in Copenhagen is extremely well organised and this sustainable city seems to be a bike paradise. The well-used bike lanes give a fascinating overview of existing bike transport possibilities.

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COLOURED COPENHAGEN

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