The plaza and new entrance to Bispebjerg Cemetery is a new urban space in an area that used to be inside the walls of the cemetery. As a gesture to the neighbourhood, the Cemetery is opened and made accessible for everybody, as a green space in a dense urban neighbourhood.
The surrounding brick wall is an iconic element in the area of ‘Nordvest’, which is a neighbourhood with a strong character, representing the Danish brick-built buildings at its best, with beautiful housing blocks and a famous yellow brick church building, the Grundtvig’s Church. Paying a tribute to bricks and tiles, these are the main materials in the new project. To create the new urban pocket while still keeping the cemetery enclosed, and lockable at night, the surrounding brick wall is conceptually ‘pushed back. The two new wall pieces frame the sides of one of the main paths and hereby weaving the flow of the city together with the flow of the cemetery. The new wall is built in a darker colour and has big areas where the wall is perforated, and made semitransparent, by a pattern with openings in-between the bricks. Between the old wall and the new walls is a steel fence designed especially for the project, with an effect of vertical blinds that blocks the view into the cemetery from the street, but allow a free view of the green areas from the plaza. Two big gates, with the same design as the fence, are open during the daytime and create an overlapping texture with the pattern of the bricks.
Two old birch trees are incorporated into the new design. As the terrain of the cemetery was app 0.5m higher than the level of the city, the terrain around these trees is kept in its original position, framed by a simple steel edge and covered with gravel, to avoid damaging the roots. Outside the gravel areas, the plaza is paved with brick tiles, in a brownish colour, coordinated with both the old and the new wall. Around the trees are big circular benches, which, together with the bench next to the wall provide many options to sit – alone or with more people together, and with the possibility enter a conversation between benches. A few new trees are planted as well. A Mable tree with a very special colour on the bark is placed close to the sidewalk, referring to the colour of the bricks, and a new silk pine is bringing the special atmosphere of the pines in the cemetery into the plaza.
The lighting of the plaza is developed as an integrated part of the project. All Copenhagen cemeteries are without artificial lighting, so the main issue was to create a soft and gentle transition from the light of the city to the darkness of the cemetery, so that ‘the light of the darkness’ was still present. A few, precisely adjusted spots placed in the existing light poles provide the general grazing light at the plaza, sweeping through the fences into the cemetery. More scenography lighting is added along the wall. Taking inspiration from a fireplace, and from the vision of the whole plaza being the new living room of the neighbourhood, the luminaires (integrated into the paving) are washing the new brick wall with a warm light. The light is coordinated with the astronomical sunset, and the intensity is set to change within the seasons.
Website: VEGA landskab
Design year: 2018-2020
Year Built: Winter 2020
Total consultant and landscape architects | VEGA landskab
Engineering Consultants | Eduard Troelsgård
Lighting designer | Lightscapes Aps
Main contractor | Ebbe Dalsgaard
Masonry | Murermester Kim Cordsen
Blacksmith | smedemester Gert Bomholt
Luminaires and installation | Lightstructures and Citelum/iGuzzini
Photography | VEGA Landskab and Naja Viscor