designed by /

Location: Denmark / Type: Parks / Sport & Recreation / Waterfronts / Built: 2016 /
Show on Google Maps / Published on June 19, 2024

The transformation of sØnæs – a former football field that was often flooded due to its marshy ground, rendering it unusable – was driven by an increasing need for climate protection and a desire from the citizens of Viborg for an accessible recreational area. This led to the establishment of sØnæs, a 10-hectare climate and activity park.

Changing climate conditions are leading to heavier rainfall in Denmark, straining wastewater treatment and sewer systems. Urban pavement prevents rainwater from soaking into the ground, causing it to overload sewers. This overflow can contaminate lakes and harbors, threatening important habitats. Urban rainwater is polluted and should never be discharged directly into natural water bodies.

The necessity for protection against extreme rainfall has inspired a varied and undulating blue-green landscape that invites recreational activities, play, and movement.

Visitors to sØnæs start their journey at the arrival gate, which leads to a concrete path guiding them through the entire area. This connecting pathway spans the purification pond, linking a variety of recreational opportunities where fun and challenging activities allow close interaction with the water.

The creation of sØnæs also supports nature improvement, significantly enhances nature experiences, and provides innovative educational activities, such as climate education for schools and businesses. Addressing current climate challenges and enhancing engagement with the site is further facilitated through initiatives such as an on-site touch screen and a dedicated mobile app.

sØnæs is designed as a purification pond where rainwater is retained before entering the lake, thereby reducing phosphorus discharge. The naturally hilly landscape provides variable volume, allowing large amounts of rainwater to be stored and protecting the catchment area from flooding. The water in the large pond remains almost still, causing sand, particles, and impurities to settle, effectively purifying it for discharge into Søndersø lake. The pond features an informational initiative that indicates the water levels during an actual flood and the reduction in discharge by allowing nutrients to settle in the basins. During heavy rain, excess water flows from the treatment basin into multiple overflow basins, ensuring that only clean water reaches the lake.

The site offers the public a glimpse into various water treatment methods, natural water circulation, and environmental resources, all while accommodating water-related sports and playgrounds. This has made sØnæs a popular destination for both city residents and visitors.

This project combines the need for climate adaptation, wastewater treatment, recreational facilities, climate change education, and improvement of nature and the environment. In a single approach, the project addresses three central agendas that are key topics in the debate on the future climate-proofing of urban areas: environmental considerations, climate protection, and recreational urban spaces.

Project Data

Landscape Architecture: LYTT Architecture

Location: Viborg, Denmark

Collaborators: WSP

Opening year: 2016

Photo Credits: Carsten Ingemann, Helene Høyer

Client: Viborg Municipality & Energi, Viborg Spildevand

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