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Superkilen is an urban project situated in one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighbourhoods in Denmark. Conceived through an idea to support diversity, Superkilen uses culture as a means to address Copenhagen’s multiplicity by way of architecture, landscape architecture and art.

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The site is located in Norrebro, Copenhagen. Norrebro is popularly known for its ethnicity, with the site surrounded by residents from over 50 nationalities. Devised as a giant exhibition, Superkilen showcases the diversity of the people that live within the immediate vicinity of the park. Allowing each culture to nominate specific objects from other countries.

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57 objects from 57 cultures were chosen to symbolise everyday experiences and make up a global vernacular in the one space. Objects such as seating, signage, bins, trees and playgrounds were either produced in a 1:1 copy or bought and transported to the site.

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The project was undertaken by architectural heavyweights Bjarke Ingles Group in collaboration with landscape architecture studio Topotek1 and artist collective Superflex. First initiated by philanthropic organisation Realdania in 2004 as part of Partnerskabet, Superkilen finished construction in June 2014 at a total cost of 7.7 million euros.

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Realdania is a private philanthropic organisation based in Denmark that focuses on investment activities in both architecture and planning. Working in conjunction with the City of Copenhagen, it played a significant role in getting the Superkilen project off the ground.

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Stretching over 750 meters, Superkilen covers a total area of 30,000 square meters at an average width of 40 metres. The project programmes are divided into three main areas: The Red Square, The Black Market and The Green Park. Defined by the three colour coded areas, Superkilen offers distinctive functions and atmospheres as you move through the exhibition.

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Market / culture / sport: The Red Square is designed as an extension of the sports and cultural centre at Norrebrohall. Superkilen addresses the space by extending the conceived internal life from the hall. The square offers a large range of recreational spaces where local residents are able to meet up with one another and engage in physical activities and games.

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Urban Living Room – The Black Square is located in the heart of the Superkilen masterplan. This space is where locals are able to engage and relax while enjoying a game of backgammon or chess, as if it were your own living room. With paving lined with Japanese cherry trees, both pedestrians and cyclists are able to move through the site on designated paths that intersect with existing bike ramps that surround the site.

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Sport / play – The Green Park is where residents are able to engage with a number of sports facilities, ranging from the existing hockey field, basketball court and soccer field. With the theme of play, hills and trees frame the space with a feeling of relaxation and playfulness.

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Procured as a result of an invited competition initiated by the City of Copenhagen and Realdania, the project aimed to create an urban space with a strong identity on a local and global scale. Superkilen primarily serves the community of Norrebro and Copenhagen’s surrounding districts, however thanks to the media coverage of the project, visitors from both within Denmark and overseas continue to use the space.

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In Superkilen’s design, sustainable urban principles were considered in the planning of the urban space. To create a more transparent infrastructure throughout the neighbourhood, existing bike paths and pedestrian walkways were recognised with new connections linking to surrounding neighbourhoods.

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The design process was heavily influenced by the local community. Public meetings and suggestion boxes were provided throughout the process to give voice to residents and allow for everyone to submit their own ideas for the proposal.

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The project has received a lot of media attention. There has been an overall positive response to the space from locals and critics. The spaces provided are thoroughly used by residents, who benefit from the safety and sense of local identity it provides.

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The Superkilen website is an up-to-date portal that can be used to access itineraries for planned events and activities.

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Melbourne’s inner suburban condition can definitely take note of the process involved in Superkilen and how the project responded to the ethnically diverse and socially challenged area of Norrebro. Through meaningful symbolisation of each culture a sense of community has been created, a lesson particularly relevant to our similarly diverse culture.

Image Sources

  1. The Red Square overview, sourced from Superflex.
  2. Superkilen aerial map, sourced from Archdaily.
  3. Nationalities, sourced from Archdaily.
  4. Site plan, sourced from Archdaily.
  5. Bike paths, copyright Iwan Baan. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  6. Aerial view, copyright Iwan Baan. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  7. The Red Square design ideas, sourced from Design Boom.
  8. The Black Square design ideas, sourced from Design Boom.
  9. The Green Park design ideas, sourced from Design Boom.
  10. Climbing frame, copyright Torben Eskerod. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  11. Hilltop, copyright Iwan Baan. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  12. Shovelling dirt, copyright Torben Eskerod. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  13. Celebration in the Red Square, copyright Hasse Ferrold. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  14. Black octopus, copyright Iwan Baan. Image sourced from Archdaily.
  15. Swing set, copyright Torben Eskerod. Image sourced from Archdaily.