Copenhagen-based architectural practice Tredje Natur (Third Nature) has released details of ‘Denmark’s first climate-adapted neighbourhood’

Tredje Natur's designs for a climate-adapted Saint Kield neighbourhood
Tredje Natur's designs for a climate-adapted Saint Kield neighbourhood

Like many cities in northern Europe, including London, Copenhagen can expect fewer but heavier rain showers over the coming years.

‘The increase in rainfall is a major challenge for our city,’  says Copenhagen’s Technical and Environment Mayor Ayfer Baykal. ‘But by tackling the challenge the right way, we can secure the city from cloudbursts while also bringing the city new recreational values. The ideas in Saint Kjeld’s Neighbourhood are a really good example of this.’

Understandably, water plays a particularly important role in the project. A key concept is the idea that the urban spaces are flooded when it rains and that the water remains in the urban spaces a little longer than usual. This relieves the sewer systems, while at the same time enabling a potentially significant increase in the number and variety of trees and plants at ground level.

Tredje Natur’s project offers a wide range of what is says are pragmatic strategies to meet the many expectations for the area. As a key principle, it intends reclaim 20% of the street area ‘by optimising the infrastructure and parking lots according to current standard’. It could, it says, potentially claim back 50,000 square meters without compromising the city’s existing functions.

In the large urban spaces, such as Saint Kjeld’s Square and Tåsinge Square the company has put a great effort into creating ‘urban experiences’ founded in the city’s and nature’s changeability: a gigantic floating ring, for example, sprays a cooling rain mist out on the hot summer days, while hundreds of plant species provide all-year visual and natural interest, and a hilly terrain invites people to ‘play and stay’.

‘We optimise the terrain, effectively doubling the urban space’s surface area,’ explains Tredje Nature partner Flemming Rafn Thomsen. ‘This provides new space for a comprehensive volume of natural value, a better micro-climate and hence more urban life and better rain water management. The large spaces will be both striking and natural hot spots in the district.’

The project introduces bicycle paths that act as storm water channels, water towers, green roofs, urban gardens, green houses and canals that carry water out from the neighborhood to the harbour. It simultaneously gives rise to greater biological diversity in the city.

The City of Copenhagen plans to transform the densely populated neighbourhood of Saint Kield into a showcase area for climate adaptation technology. It is hoped to become a place that exhibits how we at one hand ensure our cities to future climate challenges, and moreover upgrade our urban spaces and streets significantly.

‘By far the greatest challenges our society face lies in the existing city,’ says fellow partner Ole Schrøder. ‘The goal is to upgrade the city to residents’ expectations as to how the city must perform in terms of sustainable, social and health related issues. Our key concepts are driven by the notion that a coherent and natural design creates the most powerful strategy and solution for the neighbourhood as a whole, but also comprise a sensitivity to individual spaces, places and the people in the area.’

‘In Copenhagen we must secure the city against the heavy rains we expect in the future,’ says City Architect Tina Saaby. ‘The projects in this neighbourhood show how we at once can create beautiful, green streets and spaces and at the same time establish an effective technical solution that leads the rainwater in our streets to the harbour – instead of into our basements. It is architecture that integrates art and aesthetics in a new and very exciting way.’




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