Bascon: Maria Park is a new public green area in the center of Vejle, a medium-sized municipality in Denmark. The park covers 13,500 m² and focuses on sports and physical activities. The transformation of what was a large inner city parking lot with rows of trees which were not thriving, in conjunction with finding a purpose for an adjacent small green area and creating a safe school route for local children, provided the opportunity to create a large urban park. The new park is open and inviting and acts as a visual green connection between parks to the West, the centrally located City Park and the urban pedestrian zones in mid-city. The park is a centrally located green pivot point which easily accommodates large music and sporting events, a cozy picnic between trees, ice skating in the winter months, roller skating, ball games and much more.
Apart from being an active urban area, Maria Park is a beautiful and pleasant place to visit for people of all ages. The park offers active and urban zones, aesthetic and sensual landscaping, small, private and enclosed areas as well as large open spaces which ensure versatile use of the park all year round. Many sport playgrounds and public installations appeal to boys and young men in particular. The idea behind Maria Park was to attract girls and young women by incorporating areas for cultural events and zones for “hanging out”. Thus transitions between active and quiet zones are articulated, and perimeters and edges designed to provide sitting areas to hang out, yet still be “part of the action”. Great effort has been made to meet expectations of the public and secure ownership of the park. Local artists, citizens as well as children and young adults from elementary schools, high schools and sport clubs have therefore been greatly included in the programming phase.
The primary feature of the park is a soft carpet of grass which runs up and down, in and out, and in between. The landscape translates and transitions the high ground of the eastern city and the low laying meadows around the creek which runs along the western edge of the park. Softly shaped knolls gently wrap the perimeters of the activity and resting zones, sheltering the park from the surrounding busy streets. Shaped hollows and dips are reminiscences of the adjacent creek. Other elements of the park such as paths, pavilions and activity areas mimic the surrounding landscape in soft three-dimensional curves. Biodiversity is ensured by supplementing existing trees with a wide array of new species. New, old, big and small trees are located in informal and organic patterns.
A large recessed area creates the main activity zone. The organically shaped 1,300 m² multipurpose sports arena is used for ball games, roller-blading and other activities. The edge around the arena alters in height and thickness, providing room for technical equipment, and forming areas to sit and watch current activities. Safety and security issues have been of great importance, thus the arena and paths are well lit and can be used at night, as well as during the dark winter months when the arena is converted into an ice skating rink. North of the arena “The Embassy” (Ambasaden) rises from the landscape. The Embassy is the park kiosk and a natural meeting point, from where soccer balls, basketballs and other sporting equipment can be borrowed, ice skates can be rented and hot chocolate is sold during the winter months. “The Pavilion” (Pavilionen) is a sheltered stage for dancing, music performances and events. The stepped seating and the green area south of the pavilion can accommodate an audience of 500 people. Sound system, stage spots and coloured lights can be activated by the public via smartphones and Bluetooth.
Project Address: Vejle, Denmark
Client: The municipality of Vejle
Landscape Architect: Bascon; Mads Peder Rasmussen, Charlotte Baad Gustin, Christine Haastrup Pedersen and Anne Mette Boye
Building Architect: Ravn Arkitektur
Engineer: Bascon, Martin Haslund Lange
Constructor: Landscape: Aagaard Gruppen, Multi-purpose Sports Arena: Jorton and Sportsbyg, Cooling Technique: Christian Berg
Photographers: Carsten Ingemann, Bascon, Vejle Municipality
Project Value: 2.278.480 Euros