Danish park set to revitalise an historic harbour
Henning Larsen have won an open competition to revitalise a historic harbour side park in Denmark’s coastal city of Esbjerg.
In collaboration with Berlin-based landscape architects Topotek1, Esbjerg Bypark “crafts a green cultural framework for the flourishing city to grow into,” by becoming “an important step to strengthen the city’s cultural offerings and reshape its urban identity.”
Esbjerg is widely recognised as an industrial city, and the 30,000m2 park nestled between the commercial centre and working harbour dates back to the city’s founding, when early residents prevented coastal erosion by planting fir trees along the waterfront’s steep terrain.
Henning Larsen’s design doesn’t create a new park, but emphasises the existing features of the currently neglected space, strengthening its topography and adding new plantings, artistic water elements and winding paths.
A grassy amphitheatre in a dense forest of trees will be extended to become the park’s centrepiece, and the terraced slope will link the level of the city to the level of the harbour, therefore also connecting the city to the park.
While the existing elements of the Esbjerg Art Pavilion, the Music House Esbjerg, and a restaurant and café will all be preserved, a number of new water features will be included to reference the park’s once close relationship with water in the public realm.
A mountain lake at the centre of the park will sit atop a concrete platform that can be covered and used as a stage for public events in the summer, and frozen for ice-skating in the winter. The platform will be aesthetically similar to other concrete bunkers in the park, which are designed to be used as a backstage area for performers, or for pop-up shops, storage and temporary event spaces.
Salka Kudsk, Head of Landscape at Henning Larsen, explains that they “didn’t design a park because the park was already there. Now it will once again be the heart of Esbjerg, offering sensory experiences all year around- a stark contrast to the surrounding industry, sea and farmland.”
In the next phase, Henning Larsen’s design will be further developed in collaboration with the city of Esbjerg and its citizens, and, “as Esbjerg continues to grow, the park will be a hub for the city’s evolving cultural and social life, offering respite from the industrial surroundings and telling the story of the city.”