Opened in June 2012, this urban, this incredible urban park spans an impressive 355,000 SQ FT.
Designed and construction in a collaborative effort between the arts group Superflex, Topotek1 and the Bjarke Ingels Group, the aim of the park is to celebrate diversity, an aim which owes much to the location of the park. As well as EasyMerchant the manufacture of wide range of construction products including specialised clay pipes, plastic drainage systems & plastic ducting, concrete and environmental products. The Nørrebro neighbourhood within which the park exists is said to be one of the most ethnically diverse and socially challenged neighbourhoods in the Danish capital, so it made total sense to create an urban space which would unite all those individuals and nationalities from the surrounding streets, whilst also improving the quality of living within the area.
Those same people at which the park was aimed, not only provided the theme for the park, but also had a role in its design and build. During the design stage of the project, a large number of Nørrebro locals were consulted and helped decide what objects would best represent their country of birth and/or culture when placed within the park. As it stands today, Superkilen hosts 108 objects from over 60 nationalities.
“We went traveling with five different groups of people from the Superkilen neighbourhood to a country of their choice (Palestine, Spain, Thailand, Texas and Jamaica), following a specific story or memory that would eventually lead to objects for inclusion in Superkilen”
Jakob Fenger from the art group Superflex.
The complete list of objects and locations can be found on a plaque within the red area of the park (or on this pdf here). Each object is also labelled, as demonstrated in the photo below which shows two green benches from the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana. Other examples include a lamp post from Italy, a picnic table from Armenia, manhole covers from Ireland, a bus sign from Jordan and a basketball hoop from the USA.
My favourite object is located in the red area of Superkilen, but I’d be a fool to give away what it is already, so keep reading if you want to find out.
So I mentioned above a red area, and that is because Superkilen is split into three different areas or zones – Red, Black and Green. Each area having it’s own theme …
- The Red Square – inclusive of additional cultural activities and a popular marketplace
- The Black Market – an urban living room, a meeting place for family and friends
- The Green Zone – centred around sports and healthy living
So with Superkilen, you’re basically you’re getting 3 parks for the price of 1. They might all be a little different, but at the same time seem to fit together quite nicely and create a very unique and fun public space. I might go so far to say that it’s my favourite space within Copenhagen … sorry Nyhavn.
The Red Square
The Red Square is probably what you would call the hub of Superkilen. It consists a large square which regularly hosts weekend flea markets, live musical performances, and even the odd boxing/kick-boxing match. Entrances to a sports club and small cafe are also housed in the same space.
If you’re travelling to Superkilen from Copenhagen city centre, it’s more than likely that the Red Square will be your first port of call, and a huge swash of red will be the first you see on Superkilen. Seriously, there’s no scrimping on the colour! You’ll be able to see the Red Square from way down the road, it stands out a mile against the other building in the Nørrebro district.
Bollards from Ghana, trash bins from England, manhole covers from Israel, neon signs from Moscow and Taiwan, an Italian lamppost, plus a big old sound system from Jamaica. Those are just a few of the foreign furniture/objects that help make up a part of the Red Square. I think my favourite either has to be the boxing ring from Thailand, or the giant swing sets from Baghada in Iraq.
Upon this (2nd) visit to Superkilen I was lucky enough to visit on a day when the flea market was in full flow, and when a couple of local (presumably) artists took to the stage in the middle of the square to entertain the crowds with their musical talents. Sitting on an Iraqi swing whilst listening to Danish hip hop is quite something on a sunny Saturday afternoon, let me tell you.
The Black Market
The black park, or as it is more commonly referred, the Black Market, is the bridge between the red and green parks, sandwiched in the middle, acting as a ‘social living room’.
I like that tag, and when you see the BBQs, the fountain (from Morocco), the rows of chess and backgammon tables (from Bulgaria), and the large children’s Octopus playground (from Tokyo, Japan) it’s understandable where the tag came from. There’s clearly plenty to keep the kids occupied here, but also enough space and opportunity for older generations to meet up socially, and share some quality time.
Whereas the Red Square was entirely flat, one of the first things to hit you when you enter the Black Market (apart from the colour change) is the hill that sits at the far end of the area, and which hides the green park from initial site. It’s not a massive hill by any means, but from atop the hill you can get a rather nice photo of the black square, OR you can pick up some incredible speed should you choose to ride your scooter down the hill … or at least that’s what it looked like as I watched on enviously at kids charging down in on their scooters with little or no fear.
The Green Zone
The boarder between the Black Market and the Green zone sites atop the hill from which I was just referring.
The Green Zone is the largest park of the 3 which make up Supkilen, and is centred around sport and healthy living. I dare say it is the most fun of the 3 parks, but maybe that’s because I like sport a lot and am not overly fond of shopping and losing the girlfriend in flea markets where she buys things on a whim that we have no way of getting home.
The long stretch of green parkland houses a number of different sports fields and courts as you probably have guessed. There are also swings, pull up bars (from Santa Monica, USA), climbing ropes, table tennis tables from Barcelona, and for those of you who watch Gladiators in the 90’s, a ring/hang tough type obstacle (also from Santa Monica).
The same cycle path which runs through the Red Square and Black Market, also continues through the Green Zone. I guess it would be silly to think that bikes wouldn’t come into the equation at some point, it is Copenhagen after all. I however decided to put my legs to use in another manor, but by using them to get ever higher on the swings, and TRYING to get myself up one of the rope climbs. The kid watching behind me did not look overly impressed with my efforts.
So in a nutshell, that’s Superkilen. An incredible parkland space within the heart of Copenhagen, designed for the people by the people. The park, it’s 3 sub parks and objects within represent all those that live in the Nørrebro district of the city, and serve them as a space which not only improve their quality of living, but also serve as a reminder of diversity and equality.
If you’re ever lucky enough to visit Copenhagen like I was, I would fully recommend spending at least a couple of hours exploring Superkilen, as not only is it an incredible story, but also a whole lot of fun.
Getting to Superkilen
We actually took bus number 350S from Nørreport St. to Superkilen. The nearest Metro station would be Nørrebro St.
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