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Enghaveparken keeps Vesterbro safe from future cloudbursts

Third Nature was awarded the 2021 Danish Design Award in the category ‘Liveable Cities’ for transforming Enghaveparken into a modern, climate-adapted, and recreational park with a water reservoir capacity of up to 23.000 cubic meters. The park meets a vital need for future water challenges, resulting in a vast array of new uses, both in everyday life and in the case of a sudden cloudburst. 

In 2011, extreme rain hit Copenhagen, causing damages of over 5 billion kroner. During the following years, the capital was struck by several high-intensity cloudbursts. At this point, we can only expect more to come. 

With challenges such as increasing population growth in big cities like Copenhagen and more frequent cloudbursts, we must rethink our urban spaces to make them more innovative and multifunctional. 

Third Nature has found the answer to this problem with its climate-adaptive modernization of the historic Enghaveparken in Vesterbro, a trendy district of Copenhagen. 

As of 2019, the park has been reborn as a climate park capable of protecting Vesterbro from future flooding. Today, the park can contain almost 23.000 cubic meters of cloudburst water. 

In addition, everyday rain can also be recycled in the park. The rainwater irrigates the park’s recreation areas with many different plant species and trees and can be refilled by sweeping city vehicles. As a result, millions of liters of groundwater are saved annually.

“The project shows that we can preserve and rethink our common cultural heritage when the climate crisis hits the city. It shows a new way of involving many citizens in a visible positive climate narrative about the change ahead of us,” says Flemming Rafn, Architect, Co-founding Partner at Third Nature. 

Keeping the neoclassical design

In designing the new climate park, the architects at Third Nature considered the rare instances of extreme rainfall only occurring 1 percent of the time. Thus, the water engineering design of the park must serve both recreational and architectural functions 100 percent of the time.

“We have used the transformation to create significant recreational opportunities, enhance the sensory field and strengthen the biodiversity in the park,” says Flemming Rafn about the newly renovated park, referred to as Copenhagen’s largest climate project.

There are plenty of opportunities for physical exertion and recreational activities at the park’s playground, rose garden, and multicourse, but also room to store 9.000 cubic meters of rainwater. The perimeter of the park is fortified with a low wall that blocks a total of 23.000 cubic meters of extreme rainwater, allowing flooding to occur throughout the entire park.

As part of the architectural and design process, Third Nature also had the important task of integrating the enormous water capacity with the park’s neoclassical design language, following Arne Jakobsen’s original design. An integration that is imperative in the future if we are to adapt to climate change in the cities.

“The extreme climate impacts on historically sensitive cities require adaptive and innovative architectural approaches. Our park design implies that great innovations reach as deep into our cultural and historical roots as they point towards the future,” says Flemming Rafn about the design of the new climate park. 

Designing a liveable city 

At Danish Design Award 2021, Third Nature was awarded the prize ‘Liveable Cities’ with their modernized and climate-resilient version of Enghaveparken.

Among the jury’s conclusions was that the project contributes to greater well-being and urban opportunities for citizens and has a substantial positive impact on Copenhagen’s water resources, ultimately playing a crucial role in the city’s climate protection. 

For the team at Third Nature, Enghaveparken marks their first large-scale climate project. Throughout the process, their ambition has been to preserve as much of the park as possible, strengthen it with many new features, and at the same time, design the transformation into a park that can accommodate large amounts of water caused by climate change.  

“There have been many headaches along the way, and we’ve had to develop many innovative solutions. Thus, we are proud and humbled to receive the great acknowledgment for our design, which brings together all the threads in the park as a modern, future-proof improvement of the city of Copenhagen,” says Flemming Rafn, who has been involved with the project from the very beginning.

Read more about Enghaveparken here. Also, you can check out all the other winners of the Danish Design Award 2021 here.

The renewal of Enghaveparken has been developed for the City of Copenhagen, Greater Copenhagen Utility (HOFOR), and the Areal Renewal Project by Tredje Natur as architect , COWI as engineer, and Platant, who has been responsible for the user process. 

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