In the middle of Jelling, two mounds covered in grass, rises majestically towards the sky. Between the mounds stand two giant rune stones and a whitewashed medieval church. The monuments tell off a time, where Jelling was a significant imperial city and holds one of the most essential periods in the history of Denmark: Here Harald Bluetooth united the kingdom in one Christian nation.
New great discoveries: A palisade fence, three longhouses and a stone ship from year 900, have given new life to the story about Jelling as the Viking ages supremacy and as the cradle of Denmark.
Through a simple landscape modeling, this project for the Monument Area is based on an intention to identify and convey these new findings and the existing world heritage – including Thyrashøj, Gormshøj, The Church of Jelling and the Jelling Stones.
The master plan interweaves the past and the present to a significant and memorable place. Closing for traffic along Gormsgade contributes to the reconnection of the Viking ages monuments and the modern city center. This relationship forms the basis for a characteristic and attractive urban environment where locals and tourists have the opportunity to explore history or simply relax in the peaceful surroundings. The Monument Area itself is laid out as an open green landscape that advantageously can be used as a scene for local running events, school excursions and annual Viking gatherings. With a close connection to the city’s existing plaza, shopping streets and the new planned city park towards south, the objective is to strengthen local businesses and create a diverse city life.
The Monument Area in Jelling can be regarded as a text or a palimpsest, which contain layers upon layers of importance. Through time buildings have been removed, reused or reconstructed; the ancient Jelling have continuously been rewritten and replaced with new parts. With the new findings, a hidden chapter has just seen the light of day. Today the task is to communicate and process this historical layer and thereby continue writing the ever-changing story of Jelling.
Archaeological excavations indicate that in the time of Harald Bluetooth, a palisade fence was constructed with a floor plan of 360×360 meters. The Palisade that encapsulates the mounds, the Jelling stones, and a number of longhouses and stone ships, was placed as a very accurate parallelogram. Geometric studies show that the different works of Harald Bluetooth, including Aggersborg, Fyrkat and Nordhøjen, can be written into a 60 meter module in this parallelogram. The palisade has in other words been constructed after the same basic principle and from the same measurements as Harald Bluetooth’s other works. The difference is the shape and size, which emphasize the high status of Jelling and its importance in the Viking age. The floor plan of the palisade on 360×360 meters is used to define the new Monument Area. Its scale and geometry are emphasized – where it’s possible – with surfaces and pillars in a light, almost white concrete. The surfaces are being treated in a way so that the initial transverse elements of the palisade fence are being underlined. The pillars are creating an evident space; they outline a significant boundary between the green Monument Area with clusters of heather vegetation and the adjacent cultivated landscape. The pillars are raised in pairs with a distance on 60cm. and are cut in accordance with the current equinoctial line, i.e. In 23, 4°
The large stone ship, which initially consisted of a pointed oval stone ship, with Nordhøjen in center, is marked in terrain by large concrete surfaces. These surfaces give the impression of the stone ship’s impressive geometry of 350×80 meters and form, together with the grass and heather vegetation, an eventful and open path system in the landscape. In some places, where fragments of the original stone ship have been found, the concrete surfaces are being tilted with a slight inclination. Correspondingly, the position of the three longhouses will be portrayed through horizontal concrete elements in the terrain. On the surface of these elements, that naturally form space for a break and plateaus for activity, the findings of the houses and plan drawings are being drawn in 1:1.
In order to create a close connection between the open landscape to the north east and the more urban areas towards west and south, the areas between the existing buildings in Jelling are being coated with the same light, almost white concrete. The concrete is laid out in relation to the building proportions, forming comprehensible areas. Hereby flexibility and functionality can be achieved, and spaces for daily life and parking are created. The general use of concrete, grass and heather vegetation connects the entire area and defines a landscape city center filled with history and memory. Here the visitor can feel the physical magnitude of the past’s fortification. Here the tourist can explore the story about Jelling as a power center and the birthplace of Denmark. Here the inhabitants have the possibility to relax or bike around in a characteristic and unique monument landscape.
Entrant office name: Arkitekt Kristine Jensens Tegnestue (The office of Kristine Jensen)
Role of the entrant in the project: Lead landscape architect
Other design firms involved: Sculptor Ingvar Cronhammar
Project location: Jelling, Denmark
Design year: 2008 – 2013
Year Built: 2013 (inauguration September 10th 2013)
THE MONUMENT AREA IN JELLING, UNESCO World Heritage Site