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EFFEKT to present 'naturbyen' nature village at the venice architecture biennale 2021

copenhagen-based studio EFFEKT has presented plans for a residential development that forms part of its contribution to the upcoming venice architecture biennale. titled ‘naturbyen’, a name that translates as ‘nature village’, the project will see a field in denmark transformed into a completely new forest-neighborhood district comprising more than 200 homes. the development seeks to demonstrate how sustainable housing development can be combined with ambitious afforestation, increased biodiversity, and circular resource thinking.


‘as humanity is facing its greatest challenge ever with the imminent threat of climate change, habitat loss and depletion of natural resources — not to mention the ongoing pandemic — we need to rethink the way we live together on this planet. not only as humans, but across all species and ecosystems,’ EFFEKT tells designboom, discussing how the project responds to the biennale’s theme — ‘how will we live together?’.

EFFEKT naturbyen venice biennale
all images and videos © EFFEKT



responding to denmark’s goal of covering 20% of its landmass with forest by 2100, EFFEKT developed the project in collaboration with the town of middelfart. the site, currently an agricultural field, will be densely planted with a mix of native tree seedlings — an approach based on interviews and insight from industry experts, anders busse nielsen and björn wiström. ‘with a project like ‘naturbyen’ we try to address the growing need for more housing while also restoring natural habitats in close proximity to our cities, increasing biodiversity and through afforestation sequester carbon over time,’ EFFEKT explains.

EFFEKT naturbyen venice biennale



the initial planting in the nutrient rich agricultural soil is very dense and creates an optimal micro-climate that stimulates growth. after the first years of growth, the trees are progressively thinned out and new sub-layers of vegetation are planted to retain the micro-climate and increased biodiversity within the system. the architects explain that this method greatly accelerates the establishment of the woodland, which can take as little as 15 years. this is compared to the 100-200 years it takes a forest to regenerate in nature.

EFFEKT naturbyen venice biennale



in addition to absorbing carbon dioxide, the new forest will provide food through edible crops such as fruits, nuts, root vegetables, mushrooms. this means that future residents will be able to use the forest not only for recreational purposes, but also as a source of nutrients. similarly, local composting and small livestock will enable residents to nurture the forest. ‘by rethinking use of land and the concept of private/shared/public we can make room for more biodiversity right at our doorsteps — in this case, an urban food forest creating a healthy living environment for all species,’ the architects tell designboom. ‘this strategy creates a long series of positive side effects such as protecting our groundwater, restoring soil conditions, increasing biodiversity and encouraging social interaction between residents.’

EFFEKT to present 'naturbyen' nature village at the venice architecture biennale 2021



divided into several clusters, the new district comprises a variety of different housing typologies and ownership models. in addition to traditional owner-occupied housing, the ambition is to include rental, cooperative housing, and community housing — resulting in a diverse mix of residents. the new homes within the forest are arranged in clusters of 15-25 units around a shared courtyard. each of these homes has direct access to two smaller, private terraces — one located towards the courtyard and one towards the forest. meanwhile, the shared landscape and the spaces between the houses are intended for recreational and social purposes.



‘nature is so crucial to our well-being as humans — but indeed also to the well-being of our planet,’ continues sinus lynge, partner at EFFEKT. ‘with cities rapidly expanding we must find a way to make more space for nature, while also securing more homes for our growing population. by combing the latest forestry research with an urban planning strategy for suburban areas that focus on sharing outdoor areas and optimizing infrastructure, we can live with the same density but make room for more ‘nature’. who does not want a forest right outside your doorstep?’.

EFFEKT naturbyen venice biennale



the project prioritizes natural materials and energy efficient construction. the homes have been designed to be small but efficient, with a focus on high quality construction and functionality. through intelligent and flexible design, residents can save both money and energy, while freeing up space for biodiversity and the natural environment. importantly, the homes will be built from natural and recyclable materials with a particular emphasis on timber.

EFFEKT to present 'naturbyen' nature village at the venice architecture biennale 2021



the project strives to create a CO2-negative solution for future housing supply. CO2-negative buildings actively contribute to reducing carbon dioxide emissions associated with construction and operation. this can only be achieved by a combination of CO2 storage through afforestation, CO2 storage in materials (wood and biomass), as well as through the energy communities (smart grids). the more than 200 new homes will be connected through a local energy grid that provides clean, renewable power to the new inhabitants and leads excess energy back to the grid.

EFFEKT to present 'naturbyen' nature village at the venice architecture biennale 2021



the development seeks to provide a valid alternative to traditional ‘parcel and row’ housing options which, outside the major cities, are still the predominant form of housing in denmark. the project hopes to attract citizens who want to get closer to nature, within a strong local community. ‘with a project like ‘naturbyen’ we help raise the bar for future residential neighborhoods and strengthen the competencies within sustainable construction and urban planning, so we can reduce CO2 emissions and be an inspiration for others both nationally and internationally,’ says mayor of middelfart municipality, johannes lundsfryd jensen. the municipality is currently in discussions with potential developers and stakeholders, with the project expected to move through planning in late 2021, early 2022.



behind the scenes from the production of EFFEKT’s contribution to the 2021 venice architecture biennale



‘naturbyen’ is included in EFFEKT’s contribution to the 2021 venice architecture biennale running from may 22 until november 21, 2021. ‘our installation in venice showcase a series of ideas, concepts, strategies and designs for living and building, for producing, consuming and revitalizing the ecosystems we are part of and depend upon,’ EFFEKT shares with designboom. ‘everyone on this planet is all part of the same ecosystem — and by thinking and acting accordingly we believe we can find answer to urgent questions such as: how can our built environment work like ecosystems? how do make our urban communities self-sufficient and regenerative? can architecture help people reconnect with nature?’. see designboom’s ongoing coverage of the upcoming event here.



project info:


name: naturbyen (nature village)
typology: masterplan, residential
location: middelfart, denmark
year: 2020 –
status: in progress
client: middelfart municipality
EFFEKT design team: sinus lynge, daniel veenboer, yulia kozlova, evgeny markachev, gorka medina calzada, marco antonio ravini, joel brynielsson, filippa gurt

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