The Courtyard of The Future is a solution on climate changes and Copenhagen’s growing challenges with floods during stormwater surges. The courtyard makes the challenging rainwater an asset for its residents by creating effective and visible rainwater solutions that forms beautiful garden spaces for common use and extrasensory experiences. The courtyard is built of upcycled and reused building materials and is developed in a collaborative innovation process with the residents and Copenhagen Municipality.
The Courtyard of the Future is one out of three rainwater management demonstration projects that are part of the Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan. Projects that are aiming to inspire the rest of the city – and the outside world – to manage rainwater on-site with new innovative solutions. The Courtyard of the Future is developed through a co-creative innovation process with residents of three different housing organizations. Previously these housing organizations did not have anything to do with each other but worked in collaboration during this project. Following, a courtyard board has also been co-founded which arranges collective dinners, barbeque parties and other types of resident gatherings across different housing associations.
The project has fostered a great deal of local ownership as residents were invited to be co-creators of the courtyard. New collective initiatives and collaborations grew from the project and continues to offer opportunities for residents to engage together in garden work, meet up for playdates near the lake, collect berries and fruits from the edible garden, and other types of common interests.
The courtyard’s main landscape concept is a low moving wall, which encircles the entire courtyard. We call it ‘The Climate Wall’. Outside The Climate Wall there is access to the staircases and areas for daily activities, sheds, fire rescue etc. are created. In the center of the courtyard a greenhouse is created with room for subtropical plants, wine, germination, daily activities, and joint events. The greenhouse is unheated, but the glass facades collect the sun’s energy and extend the outdoor season in the courtyard with up to 100 days.
Inside The Climate Wall the green heart of the future is formed with the lake area, areas for play and stay, kitchen gardens and water games. In the case of extreme cloudburst, the basin is filled on the inside of The Climate Wall with rainwater from the courtyard and roofs. Thereby, the large amount of rainwater does not go directly into the sewage system and fills op the city’s basements.
The courtyard is a groundbreaking rainwater management project as it is the first of its kind in Denmark to biologically purify the water to such a high-quality level that it can be used for play and function as a recreational element. Instead of directing the water directly into the sewer, the rainwater is recirculated and displayed on ‘the Climate Wall’ inviting kids and residents to play with the water for example by putting out small boats to move with the waterflow. In case of cloudburst, ‘the Climate Wall’ restricts the water from entering the building. The design is based on circular principles and built of recycled building materials such as recycled concrete, old paving, waste wood used for the wooden decks and recycled windows for the green house. The design is laid out as a patchwork of pavements that gives a unique atmosphere courtyard. The Climate Wall is made of recycled concrete and neatly ties the design together as it encircles the courtyard. This means that all the upcycled waste and building materials have had a previous life in another building. By doing so the renovation saves the environment for high amounts of CO2 as the materials are reused and given new functions – instead of producing new materials.
Overall, the courtyard has been transformed into a lush blue- green environment that can manage everyday rain and cloudbursts locally and simultaneously support and nourish the community life of the neighbourhood.
Overall the courtyard showcases how rainwater management can be an integrated part of our everyday landscape by turning challenges into resources and create value for both the courtyard’s residents and city. The project combines visible rainwater management and recycled materials to create a beautiful courtyard for common use. It proves how climate adaption combined becomes a driver for sustainable change in our cities. A format which is ready to be applied in many future courtyard renovations.
Architecture offices involved in the design:
Project location: Straussvej, 2450 Copenhagen, Denmark
Design year: 2017-2021
Year Built: 2021