Haslov and Kjaersgaard Planners and Architects: The east coast of Amager, an independent part of Copenhagen, south of the city centre was used for landfill during the 1930 ́ties. An artificial beach was established despite the local conditions with very shallow water. The layout was simple: Sand was held in by means of wooden railing. The western part of the beach was laid out as a lawn-like park area along the coastal road, placed parallel to the coast. During the 1990’ies the development of the area started south and north of the beachpark.
Amager Beach Park has been one of the largest urban recreational development projects, close to the city centre of Copenhagen. The beach park has transformed the coastal landscape of the city and the island of Amager facing the Sound. The new Amager Beach is designed to be a very special place in the city: a large-scale landscape that provides a contrast to the density of the Copenhagen waterfront. The open sky and wide horizon offer unique experiences. Wind and weather are clearly present. Aircraft flying to and from Copenhagen Airport and ships sailing through the Sound show Copenhagen’s status as a major hub in Scandinavia.
The visions for this project were formulated in the early 1980s by local grassroots and various stakeholders. Openness was to be the predominant quality in the area, and the beachline was to be moved further out to form a better beach. The area was to be a lively landscape for human activity. The gap between the new area and the existing coast was to be maintained in the form of lagoons serving as protected areas for water activities. Over a period of 20 years, local and regional authorities were involved to an increasing extent, and the project’s individual elements and features were gradually developed. The necessary plans were then prepared and adopted. Once the 200 million Danish kroner that the project would cost had been allocated, the beach could be designed, planned and established relatively quickly. The project was based on an open dialogue with various stakeholders: focus groups, interest organisations and local users were involved in a continuing effort to develop the project’s qualities.
Amager Beach is fully finished with jetties, islands, promenades, paths, dunes, green areas, beach stations, etc. In the southern and central areas of the Beach Park, a number of specially designated areas are available for further development, now under ways. The architectural structure focuses on the meeting between the linear coastal road and the building lines in the flat landscape of the island of Amager and the new coastline. Long accurate lines of sight go through the beach park and the bridges across the lagoon are important elements in the entire scenography. The coastline is laid out in consideration of the dynamic forces of wind, waves and currents. Three focal points are particularly important in the new landscape: the point at the extreme east that governs the main orientation of the two beaches, and the two delineating jetties to the north and the south. In order to highlight and emphasize the vast landscape, the service buildings on the beach – the “beach stations” – have a special character: They follow the grand lines of the landscape and are designed and laid out as cliffs for people to walk on and around.
The northern beach, the Landscape Beach, is a long peninsular with low dunes. The winding concrete path through the landscape uses small topographical variations to create variety for people walking through the coastal scenery. The City Beach to the south is different: there are no dunes here. The broad beach and long curved promenade, interrupted by open beach squares, are designed as one large seating sculpture with grassy areas for games and lounging. Behind are the parking areas.
Amager Beach has been used intensively since its opening. The bustling beach life actually started before the beach was fully finished. Modern people, up for something new, soon realised that this was the perfect place for outdoor activities. It is very clear that the simple concept of the Beach Park and its unique features provide a great setting for continued development of activities and architecture in the area. On warm summer days the old Amager Beach attracted thousands of people. The new Amager Beach Park does more than that. Some of its facilities have been carefully planned, but others are being developed as a kind of live discovery centre. The beach has become a ‘place’ in the city, a destination for excursions throughout the year: people go to the beach to enjoy the views late in the evening: people come here to walk, jog, and exercise or walk their dogs, alone or in the company of others. The beach has places where people meet and watch people and places for solitude. And here, in the midst of the city, nature is the great attraction. Not nature in a romanticized form, but a scenography composed of natural forces and the open horizon, which is in fact the new place’s best quality.
Landscape Architecture: Haslov and Kjaersgaard Planners and Architects
Construction period: 18 months.
1.5 mills. cubic metres of raw material has been used for the construction of the beach.
Overall area: 346.000m2
Dimension north-south: 2.9km
Beach width: Generally 50m.
Terrain: Elev. Generally +1.4m Dunes up to +3.5m.
Distance to downtown: 5km. Users up to 40.000/day Population 1.500.000 within 10-12km
Parking: 333 permanent and a further 667 non permanent.
Price: 33 mill. Euros
Text, photos: HOGK