Vestre Fjord Park
Vestre Fjord Park is an undulating roofscape that creates a threshold between land and sea in Aalborg; the project aims to strengthen this connection by facilitating a variety of recreational and learning experiences.
Af Benjamin Wells
Designed by the Danish architectural practice ADEPT and GHB Landscape Architects, Vestre Fjord Park sits on the edge of the unique natural landscape of the Limfjord, where water, meadows, beaches, and wildlife meet the lively city of Aalborg. It is this balance of natural landscape and civic activity that gives the site its character, and that which the project’s subtle interventions aim to enhance.
The site previously held a run-down outdoor swimming pool but the past two years have seen a complete renewal of the park area, with the inclusion of a larger swimming area, a timber decked promenade and the building itself.
The building is formed of nine independent volumes dispersed along the water’s edge, connected by an undulating roofscape. Whilst the internal spaces host a variety of functions to support several sports clubs, the roofscape folds over and between them, forming tiered seating, play areas, access points, and viewing platforms. By forming generous overhangs and curated openings, this roof frames the various activities taking place in the surrounding water.
By bringing together the activities of several sports clubs with recreational facilities for the general public, the project provides a multifunctional space that can be equally valued by users of different ages, experiences, and backgrounds. In this way, the building is considered a community center: a civic infrastructure that facilitates the activities of the park and presents itself as a welcoming meeting space within it. The landscape invites participation and the roofscape accommodates its spectators, setting the scene for their assembly.
Whilst understated in architectural expression, the building’s importance is emphasized by a long timber-decked promenade, creating a singular entrance route that marks the points where fjord, park, and recreation coalesce. By placing itself on the edge between land and sea, ADEPT has strengthened the city’s relationship to the fjord by establishing accessibility and symbolic proximity.
The surrounding park is divided into several smaller areas, each with their own identity and character. The isthmus to the North hosts the various sports clubs and defines the edge of the fjord, whilst the adjacent beach provides access to an open-air swimming area. The woods and wetlands to the west and south are characterized by dense vegetation, whilst a plain to the east is open and expansive.
Vestre Fjord Park is characteristic of an increasingly common Nordic typology in which the distinction between landscape design and architecture is blurred, with natural landscapes merging seamlessly into walkways, steps, seating, and rooftops. This has resulted in a project which is overtly public, aspiring to be free from physical boundaries and expressive of its openness. Vestre Fjord Park has recently won an Aalborg Municipality Building Award and is a finalist for the Danish Landscape Awards 2017 – evidence of its success in enhancing both a natural landscape and an urban condition.
ADEPT has sensitively restructured the relationship between Aalborg and the Limfjord with a carefully curated series of interventions setting the scene for myriad recreational activities and communal events. But by employing a natural palette of materials and an understated architectural expression, it is the Fjord Park itself which is allowed to take center stage.