Copenhagen Municipality, Realdania
Public Realm, Sports
Superkilen is a park conceived as a giant exhibition of urban best practices. The park wedges through the Nørrebro area just north of the Copenhagen city center, creating a contrasting yet unifying space in one of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Denmark.
The aim of the invited competition initiated by the City of Copenhagen and Realdania Foundation back in 2005 was to create a truly unique urban space with a strong identity on a local and global scale. The park started construction in 2009 and opened to the public in June 2012.
A result of the collaboration between BIG + Berlin-based landscape architect firm TOPOTEK 1 and the Danish art group Superflex, the park creates a rare fusion of architecture, landscape, and art.
Superkilen is divided into three color-coded areas, each with a distinct atmospheric and functional condition: the large and expansive red square which serves as an extension of the adjacent sports hall offering a range of recreational and cultural activities; the black square as the heart of the Superkilen where locals can meet by the Moroccan fountain or a game of chess; and a linear green stretch as a natural meeting place for large-scale sports activities with vantage points over the surroundings.
Through an intensive curatorial process in close collaboration with the neighborhood’s residents, more than 100 objects from 60 cultures appear throughout Superkilen. Ranging from exercise equipment from Muscle Beach in LA and sewage drains from Israel, to palm trees from China and neon signs from Qatar and Russia – each object is accompanied by a small stainless plate inlaid in the ground describing the object, what it is and where it is from. The art group Superflex took the public participation further into the extreme by handpicking five groups of people and travelling to the country of their origin to document the process of selection.
“We proposed public participation as the driving force of the design leading towards the maximum freedom of expression. By transforming public procedure into proactive proposition we curated a park for the people by the people - peer to peer design - literally implemented.”
A bike path and a pedestrian path runs through the entire park, improving the infrastructure locally in the area while integrating it into the broader, citywide context. This is because the cycle route is also a part of a much longer cycle route that runs from Valby in the south, up through Frederiksberg to Lyngbyvej in the north. Today, the path is part of a 10 kmt green arc connecting the west and north side of Copenhagen.
"Our mission was to find the big picture in the extreme detail of a personal memory or story, which on the surface might appear insignificant, but once hunted down and enlarged became super big. A glass of Palestinian soil in a living room in Nørrebro serving as a memory of a lost land, enlarged to a small mountain of Palestinian soil in the park. A distant Mediterranean flirt in the seventies symbolized by a great iron bull, hunted down and raised on a hill in the park."
Throughout the Superkilen, red maple, Japanese cherry trees, Larch, palm trees from China, and Lebanese cedar trees are planted to offer more shade and vegetative interest, augmenting the existing trees. The diversity in tree and plant species complements the diversity of the site furniture.
The benches within the park are like a cultural study on different countries: a Mexican seat where you can look into your neighbor’s eyes; a Belgian bench where everybody looks away from each other. Morocco has centuries of tradition celebrating water features, which we mobilized to enrich Copenhagen’s cityscape.
Bjarke Ingels Kai-Uwe Bergmann Finn Nørkjær Armen Menendian Gabrielle Nadeau Jan Magasanik Jens Majdal Kaarsholm Mikkel Marcker Stubgaard Nanna Gyldholm Møller Richard Howis Ulla Hornsyld Fan Zhang Henrick Poulsen Jan Borgstrøm Jonas Barre Nicklas Antoni Rasch Rune Hansen Takumi Iwasawa Teis Draiby Ondrej Tichy Jonas Lehmann Jennifer Dahm Petersen Lacin Karaöz Andreas Castberg
Aga Khan Award for Architecture, 2016
Red Dot Award for Product Design ‘Best of the Best’ Architecture & Urban Design, 2013
International Olympic Committee Award Gold Medal, 2013
Civic Trust Award International Winner, 2013
AIA Institute Honor Award for Regional & Urban Design, 2013
ArchDaily Building of the Year, 2013
Architizer A+ Awards Popular Choice Winner for Landscapes and Gardens, 2013
BDLA Prize Honorable Mention, 2013
Mies van der Rohe Award Finalist, 2013
Excellence in Economic Development Award, 2012
ARCHITECT Magazine Annual Design Review Play Category Citation, 2012
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