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Schønherr: The assignment was to make the spectacular tunnels by Mønsted limestone pits accessible for everyone – and at the same time create a landscape project which underlines and communicates the original character of the location as a hilly and cultivated landscape.

Besides the new accessible walking paths, the project contains a new parking area as well as a new arrival area with new paving around the manager estate, the limestone barn and the outhouse which has been made into a cafe with information spot and ticket sale.

The site

Mønsted limestone pits west of Viborg, which is one of the oldest cities of Denmark, is a very extraordinary place. With caves as big as cathedrals, deep tunnels and a history of limestone mining exceeding 500 years, the area is extraordinary in terms of geology, age and as historic monument. The landscape carries the weight of history with a certain distinct character, which makes Mønsted limestone pits an original cultural environment.

The solution

In Schönherr’s projects, it is a general ambition that everything is for everyone – accessible, beautiful, functional and poetic.

The entirety – the overall experience – is significant for the understanding of the history, the location and the magic of Mønsted. Therefore, it is important that the visitor encounters Mønsted as an entirety – with the landscape and the history at its core. The landscape route is structured and prioritized in a manner that gives the visitor the full experience of the activities and distinct characteristics of the area – in a natural and first and foremost accessible course.

The landscape route has been constructed in in-situ concrete making it both beautiful and slip resistant. The scenic drop from the courtyard by the administration buildings and towards the gate of the pits, has been smoothed with a naturally graduating course.

Since the assignment mainly has been concerned with accessibility for everyone, the terrain regulation is crucial. To avoid an attention-demanding special design we have chosen a solution which takes its form from the existing landscape. In general, we have striven to regulate as little as possible, however, enough to ensure that the new terrain is experienced as a natural development of the existing one. It has been an objective that the visitor does not experience, at all, any specific actions taken in making the area accessible for walking impaired visitors or wheelchair users.

For the route, the Danish sculptor Erik Heide, has created a sculptural bridge that complies with the entire approach and plays into the grand tale, and at the same time becomes a beautiful design on its own – for the pleasure of all visitors.

Landscape Architect: Schønherr
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Erik Heide (Artist – The Bridge), Viborg Ingeniørerne (Engineer)
Client: The independent institution Mønsted Kalkgruber with the support of Realdania, Bevica Fonden, A.P. Møller and Hustru Chastine Mc-Kinney Møllers Fond for General Purposes, The Augustinus Foundation, Vanførefonden, The Færch Foundation, Nature Agency and Viborg Municipality
Contractor: Skive Anlæg & Entreprenør
Project location: Viborg, Denmark
Design year: 2015-2017
Year Built: 2017
Area: 25.700 M²
Budget: 10 mill. DKK (approx. 1.34 mill. EUR)
Prizes: Viborg Municipality Architecture Price 2018, The European Garden Award: “Best Development of a Cultural Landscape of European Relevance” 2019

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