AALBORG WATERFRONT – LINKING PORT & CITY
The master plan for Aalborg Waterfront links the city’s medieval centre with the adjacent fjord, which has previously been difficult for citizens to access due to the industrial harbour and the associated heavy traffic. By tying in with the openings in the urban fabric, a new relationship between city and fjord is created, and what was formerly a back-side is turned into a new, highly attractive front.
The qualities of the approximately one-kilometre stretch of quayside are emphasised with a tree-lined and unusually detailed boulevard to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians. The medieval Aalborg Castle has once again become the harbour’s centrepiece through the establishment of an extensive green area to frame the historic embankments.
At the same time, Aalborg has received a harbour promenade with steps and recessed terraces, allowing people to get close to the water. Various kinds of urban gardens facilitate activities such as markets, ball games and sun-bathing. The aim has been to create robust and attractive spaces to benefit many different users.
The central activities field – a play landscape inviting all age groups to motor-activities – has been designed to accommodate various games and sports, from beach-volley in the summer to ice skating rink in winter, surrounded by dramatically angled netting and lighting masts. A series of Cor-ten steel pavilions contain among other things sports equipment and an ice cream shop.
The materials chosen are as raw as the fjord itself, including asphalt, rubber, Cor-ten steel, concrete and wood, while at the same time containing subtle references to the sea through wavy pavement patterns – an architectural quote of the famous Copacabana beach promenades by Roberto Burle Marx
For all residents
The adjacent flower gardens are a calm, slightly sunken green space with a dense planting of trees and flowers. A lush, colourful oasis for all ages, primarily designed for quiet pursuits and as a recreational space for Aalborg’s new floating harbour pool, which is located along the waterfront, next to “Elbjørn” – a former ice-breaker converted into a floating restaurant/workshop.
The gardens are divided by wide tali-wood decking areas, which along the harbour promenade turn into broad south-facing seating areas. To shield against the winds from Limfjorden, the gardens have been sunken 60 cm, and the gardens are furthermore shielded from the Strandvejen Boulevard by a long continuous bastion in smooth, white concrete, also serving as seating.
Facilities for children
The westernmost part of the park, by the Limfjord bridge, is a café garden and activity area. The City of Aalborg shows great consideration when integrating facilities for both children and young people on the waterfront. The café garden is surrounded by eateries and offers an unconventional play park with soft curved grass mounds, rubber banks and polished stainless steel play components, small trees and unusual lighting.
At the eastern end of the promenade, the Utzon Park frames the new exhibition centre on Aalborg’s waterfront named the Utzon Centre. It is furnished with the unique concrete benches originally designed for the Sydney Opera House by Jørn Utzon. Utzon was fascinated by nature, and his works are inspired by nature’s organic shapes. The park’s cherry trees on a bed of spring flowers and the simple, sprawling lawn are inspired by his architectural ideas – which are also expressed in his soft, sculptural furniture design produced by Escofet.
Contrast and versatility have been the leading principles in the design of Aalborg Waterfront, and the waterfront has already become Aalborg’s urban garden. People of different age and from all walks of life come here.
+ Project facts
Client: Aalborg Municipality
Size: 170,000 m2
Address: Aalborg, Denmark
Year of competition: 2004
Construction period: 2005-2012
Landscape: C. F. Møller Architects, Vibeke Rønnow Landscape Architects (since 2008 a part of C. F. Møller Architects)
Engineer: COWI A/S
Collaborators: ÅF Lighting, lighting design
Prizes: The Roadway Prize, 2011, awarded by the Danish Road Directorate
- The Danish Lighting Award 2011
- 2011 Finalist for the Sustainable Concrete Award 2011
- 2010 The honorary award Det Gyldne Søm, awarded by the Danish construction industry’s professional network Byggesocietetet
- 2010 Aalborg Municipality Architecture Award, 2010
- 2004 1st prize in architectural competition
+ All images and drawings courtesy C. F. Møller Architects