New Entrance to Bispebjerg Cemetery 

The plaza and new entrance to Bispebjerg Cemetery, is a new urban space on an area that used to be inside the walls of the cemetery. As a gesture to the neighborhood, the Cemetery is opened and made accessible for everybody, as a green space in a dense urban neighborhood. 

The surrounding brick wall is an iconic element in the area of ‘Nordvest’, which is a neighborhood with a strong character, representing the Danish brick built buildings at its best, with beautiful housing blocks and a famous yellow brick church building, the Grundtvig’s Church. Paying a tribute to bricks and tiles, these are the main materials in the new project. To create the new urban pocket while still keeping the cemetery enclosed, and lockable at nights, the surrounding brick wall is conceptually ‘pushed back’. The two new wall pieces frame the sides of one of the main paths, and hereby weaving the flow of the city together with the flow of the cemetery. The new wall is built in a darker color, and has big areas where the wall is perforated, and made semitransparent, by a pattern with openings in-between the bricks. Between the old wall and the new walls is a steel fence designed especially for the project, with an effect of vertical blinds that blocks the view into the cemetery from the street, but allows a free view to the green areas from the plaza. Two big gates, with the same design as the fence, are open during the daytime, and create an overlapping texture with the pattern of the bricks.

Two old birch trees are incorporated in the new design. As the terrain of the cemetery was app 0.5m higher that the level of the city, the terrain around these trees are kept in its original position, framed by a simple steel edge and covered with gravel, to avoid damaging the roots. Outside the gravel areas, the plaza is paved with brick tiles, in a brownish color, coordinated with both the old and the new wall. Around the trees are big circular benches, which, together with the bench next to the wall provide many options to sit – alone or more people together, and with the possibility enter a conversation between benches. A few new trees are planted as well. A Mable tree with a very special color on the bark is placed close to the sidewalk, referring to the color of the bricks, and a new silk pine is bringing the special atmosphere of the pines in the cemetery into the plaza.

The lighting of the plaza is developed as an integrated part of the project. All Copenhagen cemeteries are without artificial lighting, so the main issue was to create a soft and gentle transition from the light of the city to the darkness of the cemetery, so that ‘the light of the darkness’ was still present. A few, precisely adjusted spots placed in the existing light poles provide the general grazing light at the plaza, sweeping through the fences into the cemetery. A more scenography lighting is added along the wall. Taking inspiration from a fireplace, and from the vision of the whole plaza being the new living room of the neighborhood, the luminaires (integrated in the paving) is washing the new brick wall with a warm light. The light is coordinated with the astronomical sunset, and the intensity is set to change within the seasons. 

Project location: Skoleholdervej), Copenhagen, Denmark

Design year: 2018-2020

Year Built: Winter 2020

Collaborators:

Total consultant and landscape architects | VEGA landskab

Engineering Consultants | Eduard Troelsgård

Lighting designer | Lightscapes Aps

Main contractor | Ebbe Dalsgaard

Masonry | Murermester Kim Cordsen

Blacksmith | smedemester Gert Bomholt

Luminaires and installation | Lightstructures and Citelum/iGuzzini

Photography | VEGA Landskab and Naja Viscor

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