superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex
superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex
oct 22, 2012

superkilen urban park by BIG architects, topotek1 + superflex

‘supekilen’ by BIG architects, topotek1 and superflex all image courtesy of BIG architects




‘superkilen’ is a kilometer long park situated through the nørrebro area just north of copenhagen’s city centre, considered one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighborhoods in the danish capital as it is home to more than 60 nationalities. the large-scale project comes as a result of an invited competition initiated by the city of copenhagen and the realdania foundation as a means of creating an urban space with a strong identity on a local and global scale.

street furniture is integrated into the space offering a place to relax and enjoy a drink




designed by BIG, landscape architecture studio topotek1 and artist collective superflex, ‘superkilen’ is defined by  three color-coded areas, each offering distinctive functions and atmospheres, and stands as a vehicle of integration for the cultures represented by the area, which meant involving the inhabitants within the design process. conducting public meetings as well as providing a ‘suggestions box’ for the public to submit their ideas for the urban proposal.

playground infrastructure offers spaces of more physical interaction




an expansive square – established by large blocks of red, orange and magenta geometric squares – serves as an extension of an adjacent sports hall which hosts a range of recreational and cultural activities as well as playground infrastructure to engage the community. a plaza marked in black stands at the heart of ‘superkilen’ is where locals are met by a large moroccan fountain or game of chess. a green space caps off the park and is the backdrop for a surrealist collection of more than 100 objects from the 60 plus cultures represented,  a true reflection of the nature of the local neighbourhood. these pieces were carefully curated in close collaboration with the public and include exercise gear, to work-out machines seen LA’s venice beach, to sewage drains from israel, palm trees from china and neon signs from qatar and russia, each one accompanied by a small plate describing what it is and its origin.

there are signs throughout the park indicating the various cultures represented in the neighbourhood




‘rather than a public outreach process towards the lowest common denominator or a politically correct post rationalization of preconceived ideas navigated around any potential public resistance – we proposed public participation as the driving force of the design leading towards the maximum freedom of expression. by transforming public procedure into proactive proposition we curated a park for the people by the people – peer to peer design – literally implemented.’ — bjarke ingels, founding partner, BIG

large blocks of reds, magentas and oranges define the ‘red’ square of ‘superkilen’




‘when our team was invited to propose a project in this neighborhood we realized that we had to do more than just urban design. rather than plastering the urban area with danish designs we decided to gather the local intelligence and global experience to create a display of global urban best practice comprising the best that each of the 60 different cultures and countries have to offer when it comes to urban furniture.’  — nanna gyldholm møller, project leader, BIG





‘our mission was to find the big picture in the extreme detail of a personal memory or story, which on the surface might appear insignificant, but once hunted down and enlarged became super big. a glass of palestinian soil in a living room in nørrebro serving as a memory of a lost land, enlarged to a small mountain of palestinian soil in the park. a distant mediterranean flirt in the seventies symbolised by a great iron bull, hunted down and raised on a hill in the park.’ – SUPERFLEX

each cultural object on hand is accompanied by a metal plate which indicates what it is and its origins




‘while the romantic gardens of the 19th century attempted to give the visitors an exotic experience of the world that was still big and hard to travel around – allowing people to witness a chinese pagoda or a greek temple – the super park in copenhagen does the opposite. rather than perpetuating a perception of denmark as a mono-ethnic people, the super park portrays a true sample of the cultural diversity of contemporary copenhagen.’ -martin-rein cano, topotek1

general view of the urban space

bench seating which utilizes the wall of an adjacent building as its back

sewage plates from israel adorn the ground

as well as ones from france

construction in progress

bright neon signs from qatar and russia mark the space

neon signs by night

bus signs in arabic can also be found

the ‘black square’ by night




a bike path runs through the park as a means of connecting each of the individual areas of the park, while at the same time integrating the urban space on a larger citywide context. red maples, japanese cherry trees, larix, palm trees from china and lebanese cedar trees have been planted to provide shade during warmer summer months, as well as visual intereswith the range of different vegetation represented. this diversity in tree and plant life complements the diversity of the site’s furniture.

bold white graphic lines offer visual movement

an octopus of slides perhaps?


a large moroccan fountain can be found centrally located within the black square

‘black square’

here is a look at some conceptual renderings of ‘superkilen’ before its conception…

‘red square’



‘green space’


plan of the way the three spaces are divided


a graphic indicating the cultures represented within the park


progressive diagrams of the ‘red square’


progressive diagrams of the ‘black square’


progressive diagrams of the green space



project info:


client: copenhagen municipality, realdania location: nørrebro, copenhagen / from norrebrogade to tagensvej function: public space site area: 33.000 m2 / 322917 sq.ft / 750 m long public space building area: no buildings total floor area: no buildings completion: spring 2012 authorship: BIG, topotek1, superflex collaboration: lemming & eriksson, help pr & communication budget: ca. 58,5 million DDK / 7.7 million euro / 11 million USD partner in charge: bjarke ingels project leader: nanna gyldholm møller, mikkel marcker stubgaard team: ondrej tichy, jonas lehmann, rune hansen, jan borgstrøm, lacin karaoz, jonas barre, nicklas atoni rasch, gabrielle nadeau, jennifer dahm petersen, richard howis, fan zhang

  • Just off the top of my head:

    The bike lane that runs through Superkilen is blocked off when it rains, because all that paint is too slippery to cycle on. Bad idea, especially since bikes are pretty important in Copenhagen.

    The basketball courts also border the bike lane, and since it\’s completion, there have been temporary chain link fences in the middle of the square to prevent basketball from hitting cyclists. Not part of the original plan.

    Many of the structures that were imported have been dismantled, because they were deemed unsafe.

    I guess it\’s red though… right?

    Superficial says:
  • genius!

    really says:
  • I am in wonder how the Municipality of Copenhagen gave this project the greenlight- or how it was the winner of the competition, for that matter. Where is the artfully elegant Danish and Scandinavian style I have come to love? How does a collection of random objects from different countries all dropped in one space give proper representation to their respective cultures, much less provide residents of the neighborhood a place to congregate?

    I have lived in CPH and rode my bike along this section of the Nørrebro cycle route, and I can agree this space was in need of a major upgrade but I think this project is a low-brow and kitsch addition to the rest of the Nørrebro cycle route.

    Tisk tisk Copenhagen. I know you can do better

    CN2CPH says:
  • This is a great design. It’s fun, exciting, fresh. It reflects a young vibrant, urban culture. It is a design that is unlike classical public space design. It is doing away with the norm and proposing something more youthful, invigorating and exciting.

    Rey says:
  • Copenhagen has taken a risk, maybe not everything ‘works’ for some, but it’s refreshing to see an expressive project exist in a world of overtly manicured and formal public spaces.
    This is fun, we need to have more!

  • is that salvador allende painted on the wall?

    jag says:
  • I do like the idea and a lot of it looks really great, I think I have some safety concerns though. Concrete under jungle gyms = broken limbs, cracked skulls etc. The spiraly rainbow things are cool but someone may trip on them. I like how bright it is, and the skateboard park areas are really cool.

    Destiny242 says:
  • It is surprising that Copenhagen actually agreed to realize this project. It really can feel as a too big contrast for the traditional architecture. However, I´m behind them. I think it was brave to create such a radiant space. And because it´s mostly for the kids, I believe that they will enjoy more colourful and lively places like this. The brightness of the colour somehow surprised me, people might need some time to get used to it, but overall the place looks very promising. For me it feels like a nice example of a modern architecture. Modern architecture can easily go overboard. With design, with decorations, or when it simply wants to appeal too much, for example like these. So I´m glad this project was realized, because I was quite curious to see the outcome.

    Jane Wright says:
  • where are the people?

  • The images that circulate on the internet and the easy to regurgitate PR that this article has fallen for and posted pretty much as is, helps the makers of this park mask incredible corruption, Danish racism and intolerance while pretending to care about diversity, back room dealing, a park that was cheap and falling apart before it opened, and a completely opaque process in realizing this horrendous semi-privatized space. I spent the better part of last year researching the process behind the park and writing about it. The full essay is here:

    Brett Bloom says:

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