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Superkilen urban park by BIG architects

'Superkilen' is a kilometer long park situated through the Nørrebro area just north of Copenhagen's city center, considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighbourhoods.

Photo of Kevin Parisot
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'superkilen' is a kilometer long park situated through the nørrebro area just north of copenhagen's city centre,  considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in the danish capital as it is home to  more than 60 nationalities. the large-scale project comes as a result of an invited competition initiated by the   city of copenhagen and the realdania foundation as a means of creating an urban space with a strong identity on a local  and global scale.

Designed by  BIG architects , landscape architecture studio  topotek1 and artist collective  superflex , 'superkilen' is defined by   three color-coded areas, each offering distinctive functions and atmospheres, and stands as a vehicle of integration for the cultures  represented by the area, which meant involving the inhabitants within the design process. conducting public meetings as well as  providing a 'suggestions box' for the public to submit their ideas for the urban proposal.

An expansive square - established by large blocks of red, orange and magenta geometric squares - serves as an extension  of an adjacent sports hall which hosts a range of recreational and cultural activities as well as playground infrastructure to engage the community.

A plaza marked in black stands at the heart of 'superkilen' is where locals are met by a large moroccan fountain or game of chess.  A  green space caps off the park and is the backdrop for a surrealist collection of more than 100 objects from the 60 plus cultures represented,  a true reflection of the nature of the local neighbourhood. these pieces were carefully curated in close collaboration with the public  and include exercise gear, to work-out machines seen LA's venice beach, to sewage drains from israel, palm trees from china and neon signs  from qatar and russia, each one accompanied by a small plate describing what it is and its origin.

'rather than a public outreach process towards the lowest common denominator or a politically correct post rationalisation of preconceived ideas navigated around any potential public resistance – 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 .' -bjarke ingels, founding partner, BIG

' when our team was invited to propose a project in this neighborhood we realized that we had to do more than just urban design. Rather than plastering the urban area with danish designs we decided to gather the local intelligence and global experience to create a display of global urban best practice comprising the best that each of the 60 different cultures and countries have to offer  when it comes to urban furniture. ' -nanna gyldholm møller, project leader, BIG

' 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 symbolised by a great iron bull,  hunted down and raised on a hill in the park .' - SUPERFLEX

' while the romantic gardens of the 19th century attempted to give the visitors an exotic experience of the world that was still big and hard to travel around – allowing people to witness a chinese pagoda or a greek temple – the super park in copenhagen does the opposite. rather than perpetuating a perception of denmark as a mono-ethnic people, the super park portrays a true sample
of the cultural diversity of contemporary copenhagen .' -martin-rein cano, topotek1

A bike path runs through the park as a means of connecting each of the individual areas of the park, while at the same time integrating  the urban space on a larger citywide context. red maples, japanese cherry trees, larix, palm trees from china and lebanese cedar trees  have been planted to provide shade during warmer summer months, as well as visual interest with the range of different vegetation represented. T his diversity in tree and plant life complements the diversity of the site's furniture. "



Join the conversation:

Photo of lawrence abrahamson

I especially love how the surrounding nationalities of the residents were incorporated into the design of the park. They didn't just rely on typical park furniture and fixtures, but took clues from distant cultures. What a fantastic way to create a place that reflects the local neighborhood.

"The people living in the immediate vicinity of the park relate to more than 50 different nationalities. Instead of using the designated city objects/furnitures used for parks and public spaces, people from the area was asked to nominate specific city objects such as benches, bins, trees, playgrounds, manhole covers and signage from other countries. These objects were chosen from a country of the inhabitant’s national origin or from somewhere else encountered through traveling. The objects were either produced in a 1:1 copy or bought and transported to the site."

Photo of Arjan Tupan

Wow, interesting approach. Is there anything known about the results/impact it had on life in the neighbourhood.

Photo of Kevin Parisot

Unfortunately, I simply read this on a website, and I don't live in Copenhagen. It would be nice to get some feedback indeed.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Especially interesting to read about the suggestion box component. I wonder if there was a process by which citizens could view and discuss each others suggestions?