Karens Minde Axis

designed by /

Location: Copenhagen / Denmark / Type: Built: 2023 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on July 7, 2024


Karens Minde Axis is an urban space project that combines rainwater retention with new urban spaces in solving challenges with both climate, biodiversity, and social inequality. During cloudbursts, water is transported 600 meters through a park on a yellow tile ”riverbed” functioning as a pathway and water-carrying element. The water runs over a Trickle Meadow where it is purified before it is discharged to the new rainwater basin. Just months after completion, the project proved up to the task of handling the extreme rainfall events that caused 2023 to be a precipitation record-breaking year.

The Copenhagen South Harbour

The South Harbour (Sydhavn) was originally a worker’s housing district characterized by yellow brick apartment blocks from the early 1900s, representing some of the earliest social housing developments. The area has a history of a low-income and low average life expectancy. Decades of housing speculation has led to expensive district developments causing increased social inequality and division between the Old and the New South Harbour.

Renewal and climate protection

The Municipality of Copenhagen initiated a renewal of the South Harbour where climate protection and improved architectural quality goes hand in hand to improve the quality of life and land value. Karens Minde Axis is one of the complex renewal projects where large quantities of rainwater discharge through the area.

A holistic approach to solving climate, biodiversity and social challenges

Karens Minde Axis combines rainwater retention with new green and urban spaces, to initiate a positive and respectful development. The Municipality of Copenhagen and the utility company HOFOR solve both the management of 15.000 m3 rainwater while providing a well-functioning recreational space. This reflects a holistic approach where the local identity and natural environment are essential factors in solving both climate, biodiversity, and social challenges.

A yellow tile riverbed and the Circle Bridge

A fundamental design principle is the constructed riverbed. Reflecting the yellow brick buildings, the yellow tile floor becomes a unifying element moving through the park between the large trees from the northernmost entrance point to the new water reservoir to the south. This structure provides both water management and pathway and connects the movement of people and the movement of water on a shared surface. A circular wooden construction provides a center, reaching across the watercourse, connecting multiple paths. The Circle Bridge acts as both a walkway and informal seating or “stage” to allow for spontaneous meetings.

Increased biodiversity

Designed in partnership with nature the project respects and improves existing biotopes. The new rainwater basin contributes to biodiversity and has significantly increased fauna and species variation. The drainage structures are designed to be used for activities and play in dry weather and the basin is surrounded by a brink with trees, grasses and boulders that also contribute to biodiversity.

Sense of ownership and project success

Through early involvement processes, a major goal has been to foster a sense of ownership and to reflect the diversity and grassroots spirit characterizing the collective identity of the area. Continuous citizens’ involvement has influenced design, activities, and choice of materials. Now, Karens Minde Axis is a local meeting space for events and informal gatherings.

Project Data

Landscape architecture: Schønherr

Project location: Copenhagen

Year completed: 2023

Photo credits: Carsten Ingemann, Jørgen Becker-Christensen (Schønherr), Juan Palma (Schønherr), Thomas Vesterbæk (Schønherr)


*Streetview may show the condition before the intervention

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