MASU Planning is a Danish-Finnish office with projects in all the Nordic countries. The studio was founded in Copenhagen in 2007 by landscape architects Malin Blomqvist and Sune Oslev. In 2013, a subsidiary office was established in Helsinki. With backgrounds in different Nordic cultures, the partners have each contributed with distinctive perceptions of city life, recreation and characteristics of material and detail to form the DNA of the office and the red line that runs through the projects.
At MASU Planning, we take on all types of landscape projects, from large-scale planning to concept development, strategic design, detailing and project management. Our main focus areas are urban spaces, urban development, cultural institutions, residential, and educational environments.
Recognizing the needs of a place
“The most successful projects are the ones that answer to the needs of a space – projects that recognize the distinctive character and qualities of a place and manage to develop these.” – Malin Blomqvist
Each project comes with a unique urban and cultural context and a set of challenges derived from that. It’s our job as landscape architects to answer to the site and utilize the inherent possibilities. The context provides the backbone for a project, including ideas about materials as well as how to design the space to optimize the day-to-day use of it. We aim to create something that actually suits the space and community we’re designing for. We want that to be our focus and defining factor, rather than a particular style or trend.
Atmosphere and sense of place
A successful space does more than answer to the functional and physical demands of its users. The spaces we are most fond of are the ones with a distinctive atmosphere – spaces and places that are evocative and resonates with us. Sensory impressions lets you experience the present, whether it’s smelling a flower, listening to the sounds of children playing, observing the light filtering through the leaves of a tree, or feeling the warmth accumulated in the brick-wall you lean against. Atmosphere is defined by the use and users of a space, together with materials, plantings and layout. We design with an understanding of sensory impressions to create projects with a strong sense of place that suits humans.
Sustainable design solutions
“Our projects are planned to be classic and long lasting, but also including elements of surprise and playfulness.” – Sune Oslev
At MASU Planning, we strive to create sustainable, inclusive and long-lasting spaces where people and urban life can thrive. Robustness and flexibility are qualities we always keep in mind, as they are key ingredients to achieve a successful design that will withstand the test of time and fit the needs of a wide range of users. In terms of climate adaption our self applied guidelines are simple and robust solutions that add recreational value to our projects. We keep a long-term perspective on our projects because a space should not only meet the demands of today but provide a framework where use and program is allowed to change.
The raised, shielded garden at Frederiksberg is a green oasis for people with special needs. In only a small footprint, the garden offers carefully designed sense stimulation on the user’s own terms. Magneten Treatment Center provides treatment for adults with physical and mental disability. Going to public parks is difficult for the users because of the openness and lack of control. For some users, the sensory garden is their only way of enjoying nature. The therapists and users wanted a shielded sensory garden that all users could enjoy and which could be used in treatment. This garden should include smaller intimate spots for one-on-one sessions, larger spaces for group activities and areas for physical activities like balance exercises. Most importantly, the garden needed to accommodate a multitude of nature experiences to stimulate all senses.
The garden consists of three areas: a vegetable garden, a bonfire garden, and a flower garden. In the vegetable garden, a greenhouse prolongs the season. Around the greenhouse, raised beds for vegetables, beehives, fruit trees and bushes produce edible results. The bonfire garden and the greenhouse play important roles as gathering points and in winter activities. The flower garden is the most shielded and intimate area, where lush plantings display an assortment of smells and colors to stimulate the senses.
Office role: Main consultant | Team: AI Gruppen | Year of construction: 2017 | Area: 3,500 m2 | Image credits: Kirstine Autzen
Wandering, exploring and sensing are fundamental fairytale themes in the work of H.C. Andersen – and in the spatial concept of the museum and garden created in his honour. In between museum and garden the borders are blurred to reflect the constant shift between reality and fantasy in his fairytale universe. We weren’t interested in telling the exact story of the Ugly Duckling or Thumbelina. Instead the garden should let you experience nature as perceived by H.C. Andersen – as a source of inspiration that sets the imagination free.
Walking from smaller secluded spaces, through openings and spatial changes, the museum visitor experiences a journey in constant transformation. In the garden, walls are replaced by hedges that mimic the scale of the indoor spaces. Movement is necessary to experience the shifts in atmosphere as the compositions of plants and scale change from space to space. Plants are essential elements in the garden, evoking a set of a atmosphere through colors, textures, smells, and shapes. In the giant garden, you feel small between the overgrown and out-of-scale leaves that surround you and filter the sunlight.
Type: Invited project competition, 1st prize 2016 | Team: Kengo Kuma Architects, Cornelius+Vöge Architects, Eduard Troelsgård Engineers, Søren Jensen Engineers | Role: Landscape architects | Size: 9,000 m2 | Status: Ongoing | Image credits: Kengo Kuma Architects, Cornelius+Vöge Architects, MASU Planning, MIR
Sct Olai went from being a non-space to providing Roskilde with a timeless urban space. The transformation from former parking lot and backyard was a part of the town strategy to create more variation in the city center. Urban spaces that highlights the cultural institutions and paces, which are without commercial character. Sct Olai provides a break from the nearby shopping street, here’s room for reflection and conversation. The subtle use of new and re-used materials of high quality gives identity and atmosphere to the quiet square. The design consists of only a few elements – a granite pavement, granite slabs for accessibility, a brick wall, a small stream in cast iron and the sculpture ‘Ragnarok’ by Bjørn Nørgaard.
All the materials used are long-lasting, and compliments the surroundings. A brick wall frames the square, and due to the sloping terrain, it functions as seating at the lowest end. The direction of the wall is broken to form a series of seating niches. A small stream flows from a water feature at Algade in a cast-iron canal, inviting shoppers and by-passer toward the square. The water runs across the square and ends around the sculpture in front of the museum. The flat steps of the canal create a trickling sound, and draws your attention to the water, underlining the quiet character of the square as opposed to the busy Algade.
Office role: Main consultant | Year of construction: 2015 | Area: 1,200 m2 | Image credits: Kirstine Autzen
The old brick warehouses in the area around Tullikamari Square, tells the story of Tampere’s industrial past. The historic red brick buildings are an important part of the town’s cultural heritage. Our new square design and the new residential tower create a connection between the past and future of Tampere and provide the city with a flexible and long-lasting urban space. Already today the area has a vibrant atmosphere as the old warehouses have been turned into cultural institutions hosting exhibitions, concerts, and events. The new square will serve as a public meeting place, where indoor and outdoor spaces and activities are woven together. The ground floor of the new residential building is an inviting public hall that serves as a flexible and multifunctional space for large events and exhibitions. The square will form a new cultural heart of the town. The main materials used are red brick and perforated metal. The pavement pattern of the brick underlines the function of the square.
Type: Competition 2018, 1. prize. | Role: Landscape Architects | Team: Schauman & Norgren Architects, Schauman Architects, Jouni Lehtomaa, Nisunen Grönlund, Sweco | Area: 9,500 m2 | Project Start: 2018 | Image credits: Schauman & Norgren Architects, Schauman Architects, MASU Planning
Fanø Bad is a small town with a glamorous past of coastal tourism by the sublime Wadden Sea on the Danish West Coast. A reminiscence of an old brick promenade sparkled our interest into the hidden history of Fanø Bad – The first Danish bathing resort was opened at Fanø in the 1890s and the town became a destination for the higher society of Denmark, Germany, and Austria. The main attraction was to see others and to be seen strolling up and down the promenade. The forgotten promenade culture became a bridge between history and the present situation, and lead to a long-term strategy on how to revitalize the town.
The development strategy addresses the problems we experienced at Fanø Bad – were cars and car traffic was in focus rather than people and urban life. With a small budget, our focus was to establish a structure that could grow over time; the limited resources were put into developing a main urban space. The new project consists of only a few elements inspired by history and local traditions: a new town ‘floor’ to change the hierarchy between people and cars, oak seating and lighting to establish a smaller scale of sheltered gathering place, and new vegetation to bring nature and the town closer together.
Invited competition 2015, 1st prize | Office role: Main consultant | Team: Everyday Studio | Year of construction: 2017 | Area: 25.000 m2 (planning area), 5100 m2 (project area) | Image credits: Kirstine Autzen
In our master plan of Skousbo, the simple solution for climate adaption is to simulate a natural landscape and create coherence with the surrounding nature. By remodeling the landscape, we created an inexpensive and robust solution for dealing with increasing rainwater. In this new climate-friendly neighborhood, rainwater is a recreational resource rather than a problem. Implementing climate adaption on a planning level made it possible to make the entire structure of the new neighborhood serve the need to direct water away from the housing. All rainwater is lead above ground through steel channels, to a main green canal, and further on to natural green ditches in the surrounding landscape. By re-introducing water and re-shaping the valley landscape we created the base for a varied meadow nature to evolve.
It is difficult to predict future housing needs, and we aimed to create a flexible long-term development plan, with a wide range of housing types, all with a focus on creating the best possible framework for communities to blossom. Active facades and well-planned transition zones ensure activity in the communal spaces, with the clear hierarchy of private and public areas establishing a welcoming atmosphere that encourages social interactions.
Type: Open competition 2015, 1st prize | Office role: Landscape architects | Team: Cornelius + Vöge, Fjerring Year of construction: Phase 1 completed in 2019 | Area: 750.000m2 | Image credits: MASU Planning
Grønnegade Square is a diverse and flexible urban space in front of Brandt’s Art Museum in the heart of Odense. The multitude of ways to use the square appears hidden in the simple design, and is brought to life by the presence and movements of people, as the light and water feature of the square can be directly activated and changed by users.
The warm yellow brick paving is the most recognizable material in the public spaces of Odense. It binds the city together in a marvelous way and speaks of tradition and qualitative awareness. At Grønnegade Square, the classic brick material is given an irregular touch by introducing large, wavelike patterns to form an ornamented carpet – as a base for the functionality of the square. Large, organically shaped bench elements, interactive light, and a water feature are placed on the carpet. The brick carpet is spread out across the road, to avoid a visual separation of the square. Together with light designer Jesper Kongshaug, we have created a playful lighting concept, which makes it possible for users to actively influence the space around them as both light and water can be activated, and changes through text messages and movement. The lights react to the movements of pedestrians and help orchestrate life and interaction on the square.
Office role: Main consultant | Type: Open competition 2008, 1st prize | Team: Jesper Kongshaug | Year of construction: 2012 | Area: 6,000 m2 | Image credits: MASU Planning and Torben Eskerod