Kragh & Berglund: Copenhagen’s new laboratory for movement in the city space:
In only 3 months Ørestaden has been given a new outdoor public space, which claimed by media, the new town has lacked for a long time. Landscape Architects Kragh & Berglund A/S has made a proposal for this new public space from early sketches to final drawings. Plug N Play is a temporary activity park placed on a future building site almost adjacent to Vestamager Metro Station. The site consisting of grasslands and earth mounds of excess soil from other recently built plots. The temporary park spans approx. 2.5 hectares and contains a variety of known as well as lesser known courts for physical activity – all joined together by a simple and almost white concrete slab paving meandering in between the activity courts as paths and larger open plazas.
When the office of Kragh & Berglund was given the assignment by CPH City & Port Development, one of the first discussions opened, was the site and its potentials. The site is located on a very flat and windy landfill area, important to relate to in the proposal, but also to work with as a quality! Further- more, the office was presented to a list of activities by CPH City & Port Development, which they desired to be implemented in the proposal. These activities where essential to the project in order to anchor local sports clubs and users to the place and create a form of ownership in the 5 year lifespan of the park. Through the early design phase several workshops were held with the clubs and users, giving them possibility to shape the project into their exact liking.
The overall concept is to create a city park, which can house the many activities and also create a loop and atmosphere inviting all visitors to stay a while, and create social interaction human to human! Basically the concept is to create the frame; a floor or backbone flowing from north to south embracing the different activities; Speed skating, parkour, dirt jump, Astroturf ball court, street basket, football and urban allotment gardens. The floor is shaped also to create small agoras and the width of the paving varies, creating small niches and cut-outs for planting etc.
The proposal operates with a dynamic placing of activities, all in order to make it possible to remove and plug in new play activities or just reshape or move the existing. The concept is supporting the synergy between groups of users and activities. The proposal works with sustainability and recycling. Storm and drainage water is collected and let to a ditch, where it is delayed, before being sent to the nearby canal system. Many of the materials used in paving and retaining walls are not fixed – they can simply be taken up and reused in another context at another site. An essential part of the proposal is to add very strong vertical elements / focal points to the site; the orange containers used as a café, storage rooms and club facilities for the users and sports clubs and club facilities for the users and sports clubs.
At an early phase, the office chose to work with basic and crude materials; Prefab concrete pavers and retaining walls, galvanised steel railings, plain asphalt, rubber paving, ordinary light poles with fixed flood lights, all in order to keep the project simple and robust, yet adding a raw urban look, and securing the project against vandalism. Reinforced concrete slabs form the overall paving on paths and plazas. The slabs are 100 x 200 x 10 cm, slightly tactile and almost white in colour, when dry. The slabs are laid in grid bond to underline the lines in the park and the horizontality of the site.
To the west the park is bounded by a gently sloped landscape made by excess soil from the site. On the park border the hills are cut off by low retaining walls, meandering north to south as the slabs. The walls are ordinary grey L-shaped precast concrete elements in 100 and 150 cm height. The walls, and the 3 m wide grass banquet just above them, are suggested as spectator areas for the various sports courts.
Ten twenty-foot containers, all painted a bright warm orange, are placed strategically in the park. Some ordinary containers and some fitted with glass facades, existing steel doors are kept, so the containers can be locked and secured from vandalism. The containers make the site visible and recognisable from the nearby roads and metro line.
The speed skating rink is made with very fine black asphalt, especially designed for skaters and their demands for denseness, smoothness and draining. The rink is made to meet international standards. The parkour court in the northern end of the park is made of several elements; a concrete wall structure, balance loop and steel railing elements. The wall structure is made as standard concrete walls made with a form liner giving them a wooden and tactile structure, thus making them perfect for grip, when the traceurs (users) jump from wall to wall. The wall edges are sharp, also in order to give the traceurs perfect grip. Orange polyethylene cylindrical stumps, all c36 cm, make the balance loop, near the concrete wall-structure. The two steel railing elements, a climbing element and the uneven bars, are both made in prefab 25 mm steel pipes and fittings. Either can easily be altered or dismantled, as the tubes are not welded to the fittings. Finally, an area is paved with rubber paving, where the traceurs can practice fall techniques etc.
The park has two street basket courts, one large full size court, and one smaller – half court. Both are paved with the same rubber paving as used in the parkour court, but here colours are blue and purple. The multi purpose ball court is made with 2nd generation Astroturf. The turf used is a warm yellow, and the sides of the court transparent, making to court an integrated part of the park, even though it is walled. The Beach volley court is made with 40 cm Cabanasil sand, traditional sand used for these courts. The court is fitted with netting etc. In the southern end of the park are placed two large grass areas. Both made for classic football, but also these areas are to host larger events such as concerts, festivals, cinema etc.
The park opened late august, and from day one it was inhabited by locals and the sports clubs. Following are citations two of the big financial contributors / sponsors The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities and The Nordea Foundation, along with the Developer CPH City & Port Development. The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities takes the highly flexible layout and the reus- ability of the activities as its starting point.
Torben Frølich, Managing Director of The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities, says about the project:
”Plug N Play is an excellent example of how you can create life between the buildings, and not only in- side the buildings, in Ørestad. With the temporary and mobile facilities it will be possible to use empty building sites for the benefit of the local residents and everyone in Copenhagen who hanker after sport in an urban environment. It is exciting for The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities to be involved in the creation of some of the country’s first mobile facilities for a large-scale park”.
The Nordea Foundation supports the establishment of an ultramodern roller skating and speed skating park and Torben Klein, Managing Director of The Nordea Foundation, says:
”Plug N Play provides the people of Copenhagen with a completely new urban space which encourages play, movement and outdoor life. In The Nordea Foundation we are happy to be able to support the roller skating park which can be used by all, irrespective of whether you are a speed skater, a jogger or a family with small children.”
Jens Kramer Mikkelsen, Managing Director of CPH City & Port Development, makes it abundantly clear that there are also commercial reasons behind the PLUG N PLAY initiative:
”CPH City & Port Development’s vision is to develop living districts on a commercial basis. PLUG N PLAY is an investment in urban life – a kick start to the development of Ørestad South where the first residents have just moved in. By investing in temporary sports and leisure facilities we of course hope to attract both residents and investors. And then it will be a great advantage that the activities can be moved so that they can be tailored to the ongoing development of the city.”
The coming years has yet to show the full potential of the park.
Landscape Architect: Kragh & Berglund
Project leader: Kim Madsen
Project team: Hans Kragh (Partner), Kim Madsen, Rikke Geertsen, Birgitte Løkke, Sofie Kvist, Christina Mathiesen, Jeremy Dennis
Location: Ørestaden, Vestamager, Copenhagen,
Site area: approx. 25.000 sqm
Total cost: 2.100.000 Euro
Developer: CPH City & Port Development
Contractor: NCC Construction Denmark A/S Technical advisers /
Parkour court: Lemming & Eriksson Consulting Engineers A/S FRI and Team Jiyo
Sponsors: The Municipality of Copenhagen, The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities and The Nordea foundation
Image credits: Kragh & Berglund