Editor's note

A 50cm barrier along any beach can radically change natural dynamics, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In the case of Hvidovre beach, the grassy area is a former landfill so this simple element is solving a number of problems whilst opening new uses. VEGA collaborated with Karin Lorentzen, a super-interesting Danish artist that designed the concrete wall. The result is an interesting and playful landscape element and I’m reminded of the Catherine Mosbach’s approach to form-finding – a little bit. Smuk!

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VEGA landskab: At the waterside of Hvidovre, a small artificial beach area has been upgraded to a new improved beach park, designed by VEGA landskab and sculptor Karin Lorentzen. Hvidovre Strandpark is a unique city beach in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen, which can easily be reached by bike and by public transportation. The small child-friendly beach is a small local gem which since 2012 has been a popular destination for families from Hvidovre and the surrounding areas. However, Hvidovre Municipality wanted to upgrade and expand the beach to accommodate even more guests. The Hvidovre beach area is landfill and has been developed over the past 100 years, first created by waste dumping and later with added soil and beach sand. The orientation of the old beach caused a lot of seaweed to accumulate, and the sea was eroding the added sand, causing excavation and leaching of the landfill material into the water. The new project consist of an extension of the sand area, a new layout of the path through the meadow, and a new concrete edge between sand area and the green landfill area behind.

With the new beach park project, the beach has been expanded, so that the sand area stretches along the entire coastline between Hvidovre Harbor and the small channel ‘Mørtelrenden’, and it can now accommodate even more beach goers. The extension towards the sea also assures a better slope and a re-orientation of the beach, to avoid seaweed and erosion of the sand. The new concrete edge is a poetic element that interprets nature’s properties in new form, as well as a pragmatic element that solves the function of securing the grassy meadow against leaching and erosion from the water of the sea. The project is designed based on the calculated future water rises, so that the border element is not affected by daily water fluctuations, but can withstand the rise of sea level in case of extreme weather events.

The concrete edge serves as a terrain support wall, as a huge step with a good height for seating, between the grassed landfill area and the new beach area. The new path and the concrete edge separate and define the beach area from the rest of the area, and provide more space for recreational stays. The concrete edge creates a clear boundary, but the artwork also unites the beach and meadow into a coherent artful beach park, as the necessary support wall is shaped into a beautiful and site specific landscape artwork. And apart from being a support wall and a big step, the concrete artwork is also meant for seating, playing, jumping, leaning on….

Karin Lorentzen’s integrated landscape sculpture consists of a series of concrete elements, all of which have a unique shape. The elements are laid out with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. The landscaping of the area reintroduces the original winding spatiality and character of the beach meadow, and connects the area with the green in the north and the harbor to the south, inspired by the original ‘soft’ and winding edge between Hvidovre beach meadow and the sea. The concrete edges are inspired by some of nature’s own beautiful shapes – the structure of white cabbage. Karin Lorentzen has reinterpreted the geometry of white cabbage and used it in the design of the concrete elements which area based on the structure and geometry of the cabbage. Karin Lorentzen often works with plant morphology and nature shapes in her sculptures, both using full size plants and smaller elements like here, where thin cuts of cabbage have been enlarged and interpreted into concrete. Many kinds of cabbage and geometries were tested throughout the process in order to create the best spaces, twists and turns for the beach, and the entire line of the sculpture has been worked out by Karin Lorentzen and VEGA landskab on site, using rope and sticks to draw in full scale.

The project has been an exploration into the limits of large scale unique concrete elements in a collaboration with Aarhus Cementvarefabrik a/s and Odivo Formwork Robotics. 64 elements were cast in 21 molds. Each element has the possibility of being used in 4 different ways, creating a system of many possibilities through a small produce of formwork. The course of elements creates curves of different sizes, inviting guests to stay individually or in groups in the spaces created by the curves. On a smaller scale the anatomy of the cabbage relates to the physiology of the human body, and on a larger scale it reflects the characteristics of the surrounding landscape with its waves and interwoven shapes of beach and meadows. In this way the project settles in the landscape and speaks to the human body.

The Beach Park was inaugurated in June 2017. Hvidovre Municipality and VEGA landskab are very happy with the result and the beach has been very popular and densely populated during the summer.

Landscape Architect: VEGA landskab
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: sculptor Karin Lorentzen
Project location (Street, City, Country): Lodsvej 80, 2650 Hvidovre, Denmark
Design year: 2014-2017
Year Built: 2017

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