Cortex Park, or ‘City of Knowledge’ as it is named in Danish, is an architectural manifestation of our human desire to share with — and learn from — one another.
Af Ariana Zilliacus
Not only does this desire to share satisfy our social nature, but it also enhances the knowledge we have when seen through different perspectives and areas of expertise. ADEPT has made such interactions and exchanges possible in the Cortex Park by encouraging meetings between researchers, staff, and students through a multitude of shared spaces connecting the four main building volumes. What is especially fascinating about ADEPT’s Cortex Park is its acknowledgment of physical activity as an important contributor to our mental capacities; to symbolize this, a large sports hall spans over the four buildings, lighting up in the dark as the complex’s ‘enlightening identity’.
Cortex Park has been organized to accommodate a mix of researchers, staff, and students. An office hotel, various prototype labs and business incubators, as well as office and meeting rooms and a public café, are all distributed within four separate buildings. Each building has its own quirky façade pattern from Graphic Concrete, a manufacturer that casts prefabricated concrete elements with a graphic illustration. The contrast between a smooth concrete surface and exposed concrete aggregate results in a varied tactile and visual experience with every facade, despite their shared materiality. In addition to this, each building has two of its four facades facing an indoor courtyard, which contributes to the Park’s fluid progression between exterior and interior. ADEPT’s design works constantly with dualities: inner and outer, heavy and light, body and mind, knowledge and movement. The relationship between the heavy volumes of the four concrete ‘houses’ and the light, crisscrossing staircases hanging in between, is an example of one of those dualities.
The buildings’ connecting circulation is an essential part of the indoor courtyard, contributing with layered movement and an energy that is at the heart of an urban environment, which makes ‘the square’ — Cortex Park’s central space — a shared and flexible common area. It can double as a meeting space or even a concert hall; given that it is part of a program that is meant to breed innovation, the sky is the limit. This idea of a blank — of a space that can be owned by multiple individuals — is one that we most commonly see in our public, urban spaces. It is clear that ADEPT has kept this in mind when designing Cortex Park, as seen through the blurred transitions between exterior and interior, and in the inner courtyard with its crossing sounds and movement: the presence of indoor balconies facing ‘the square’ is another allusion to our cities that connect people living in different levels of different buildings.
Placing the sports facilities as a ‘roof’, spanning between the four houses, we create a both physical and mental experience of sharing, as well as a new hybrid between knowledge and movement.
Lighting up the building’s social core is a large skylight, sandwiched between the sports hall and the rooftop terrace. ADEPT calls Cortex Park ‘a building designed for the challenge of both mind and body’, which is especially clear in its rooftop construction. Daylight, which is so crucial to the health of the human body and consequently the human mind, plays a major role in the layout of Cortex Park. Not only does it project into ‘the square’ through the skylights, but it also passes through the translucent walls of the sports hall, the real architectural statement of the connection between body and mind. In a ‘City of Knowledge’, the beacon of light does not come from its meeting rooms or its courtyard: it comes from the sports hall, elevated above the rest.
When darkness falls, [the hall] lights up to tell the story of an active environment for education, research and movement – around the clock.