The renewal of the shared courtyard in the housing cooperative has turned a grey courtyard into a green oasis. On the base of a democratic sketch process, the various wishes of the different people living here have been embraced in the new design.

The new design is based on a democratic design process, involving a representative group of inhabitants in the programming of this shared space. Being a group with a lot of diversity – from singles of all ages to families with children as well as elderly couples spending most of the day at home – the demands and wishes have been very diverse and even contradictory. While some were wishing for peace and quiet, others were dreaming of a lively playground and some were eager to socialize with their fellow inhabitants where others basically wanted to be left alone.

The result is a design based on the natural flow of the courtyard, from the gates to the entrance doors. In between the flow lines are established new islands with different types of program. The flow lines are extended to wider stretches of paving, and where the lines meet, these junctions are making room for informal gatherings and movable furniture. The few existing trees, among these a big magnolia, and major plantings are kept, while a lot of new trees with a lightly foliage are added, as well as a new willow around the playground. As the courtyard has a shady part, the bike parking is placed here under green roofs, to free the sunny spaces for the people.

The concept of islands allows everybody to find their own type of space and nudges a respectful way of being together in a shared space.

The playground is clearly defined by the willow – screening off the play and noise from the rest of the courtyard but at the same time providing the children a space of their own, with the possibility of hiding and feeling free from grown-up surveillance. A few more quiet elements of the playground, as the big sand box, is placed outside the willow, allowing the parents to have visual contact with the smallest kids. A small depression in the asphalt surface, with a closeable drain, makes an improvised paddle pool possible.

While some areas in the courtyard are made with proportions for putting the tables together for bigger social dinners, other spaces are equipped with wooden decks for seating. The wooden decks are inviting the inhabitants to stay and enjoy the sun in a quiet lounge-style, at the same time making sure that these corners, closest to the flats, are not used for tables, chairs and late dinners. All the grass areas are designed to be accessed and used – in a respectful way. The small curbs around the islands avoid biking and football playing on the grass area and increase the feeling of stepping onto a soft green pillow.

The detailing and the colour scheme have been developed in a user-involved process as well. Being very concerned to get an aesthetic playground, some of the equipment has been designed especially for this project, and the colours have been chosen with consideration for the colours of the facades around.

The detailing is underlining the new soft green feel: Curved lines are shaping the grassy islands, and a special brick tile, with an almost blue colour is blending in with the surrounding asphalt, and at the same time reflecting the blue of the sky.

Other design firms involved in the design of the project | Bang & Beenfelt

Project location | Nørrebro, Copenhagen, Denmark

Design year | 2015-2017

Year Built | 2017

Photography | Simon Jeppesen andVEGA landskab


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