Case Study: Multicultural Vibes at Superkilen in Copenhagen

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Jocelyn Schaffer, my friend and neighbour (and member of the Playscape Sub-Committee) just sent me an email about Superkilen in Copenhagen. This is a public space and urban park worth talking about. It is a long stretch of the city and is made up of three zones: The Red SquareThe Black Market and The Green Park

Commissioned by the City of Copenhagen and RealDania, the concept for Superkilen was developed by SUPERFLEX in collaboration with architectural firms Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) and Topotek1. The project involved a comprehensive community consultation as well as travel abroad to the native countries of community residents and the results are surprising and totally  innovative!

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Visually, it is stunning in photos – vivacious streaks of colour poured across a monotonous urban landscape. But it’s the content of the park, and what the content represents, that I find the most inspiring when I think about our park revitalization process and surrounding community filled with residents originally from China, Portugal, Brazil and Italy, to name just a few.

Like so many urban communities, ours is a multicultural community and so is the community surrounding Superkilen. How did this project embody the community in the design of this new public space? Here’s the explanation from SUPERFLEX:

The people living in the immediate vicinity of the park relate to more than 50 different nationalities. Instead of using the designated city objects/furnitures used for parks and public spaces, people (from the Superkilen area) were asked to nominate specific city objects such as benches, bins, trees, playgrounds, manhole covers and signage from other countries. These objects were chosen from a country of the inhabitant’s national origin or from somewhere else encountered through traveling. The objects were either produced in a 1:1 copy or bought and transported to the site. Furthermore, five groups travelled to Palestine, Spain, Thailand, Texas and Jamaica in order to acquire five specific objects. The objects have since been installed throughout the park. In total there are more than 100 different object encountered from more than 50 different countries.”

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Fascinating! If we were to place objects from the public spaces of our native countries in the Roxton Road Parks, what would they be? I will have to give this some thought…

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For more images, see a post on Superkilen at Architizer here

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4 responses to “Case Study: Multicultural Vibes at Superkilen in Copenhagen

  1. Bold design to transplant culturally influenced objects directly form different places – nicely done. Tricky to bring it all together cohesively though but certainly very dynamic. Probably would only work on a certain scale – in the above park they have 100 objects from 50 different countries – in order to be seen as inclusive.

  2. Very cool. I really like this idea. I think it’s worth considering how we could integrate cultural elements reflecting members of the surrounding community.

  3. Thank you Luke and Katrina for sharing your thoughts. Luke, I agree it would be tricky but like Katrina, I think it is worth considering. While I have lived elsewhere, I was born and raised in Toronto, so I don’t really feel entitled to suggest an object for the park. On the other hand, my mother was born in Scotland and I feel Scottish biologically. Because of my connection to the country, I would love to see a dry stone wall or cairn in one of the parks. Maybe something inspired by Andy Goldsworthy and made by members of the community of Scottish decent?

    How about you? Is there an object from your motherland you’d like to see in one of our parks?

  4. Thank you Luke and Katrina for sharing your thoughts. Luke, I agree it would be tricky but like Katrina, I think it is worth considering. While I have lived elsewhere, I was born and raised in Toronto, so I don’t really feel entitled to suggest an object for the park. On the other hand, my mother was born in Scotland and I feel Scottish biologically. Because of my connection to the country, I would love to see a dry stone wall or cairn in one of the parks. Maybe something inspired by Andy Goldsworthy and made by members of the community of Scottish decent.

    How about you? Is there an object from your motherland you’d like to see in one of our parks?

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