Hvidovre Beach park

Hvidovre Beach park by VEGA landskab and Karin Lorentzen: At the waterside of Hvidovre, a small artificial beach has been upgraded to a new improved beach park, designed by VEGA landskab and sculptor Karin Lorentzen. Hvidovre Strandpark is a unique urban beach in the metropolitan area of Copenhagen, and is easily reached by bike and by public transportation. The small child-friendly beach is a local gem, which since 2012 has been a popular destination for families from Hvidovre and the neighboring areas. However, Hvidovre Municipality wanted to upgrade and expand the beach to accommodate even more guests.

The Hvidovre beach area is created by landfill and has been developed over the past 100 years, first by waste dumping and later added with 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 consists of an expansion of the beach, a new layout of the path system moving along the meadow, and a concrete edge between the beach and the meadow.

The project is a collaboration between VEGA landskab and sculptor Karin Lorentzen, who have made all basic concept decisions together. The project is unique, as the artist and the landscape architects have worked closely together since the very beginning, and hereby assured that artwork and landscape are completely integrated. For the technical detailing and the practical work, the responsibility has been distributed between the two parts: VEGA landskab has been in charge of the new topography, the path and the foundation of the concrete edge, whereas Karin Lorentzen has developed, shaped and detailed the concrete edge as well as coordinated the installation on site.

The new beach park project is expanding the beach so that the area with sand now stretches along the entire coastline between Hvidovre Harbor and the small channel ‘Mørtelrenden’ connecting north and south. The extension 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 a new form, as well as a pragmatic element that solves the function of securing the grassy meadow from leaching and erosion from the water of the sea. The project is designed based on future water level rises, so that the shore is not affected by daily water fluctuations and can withstand the rise of sea level in case of extreme weather events.

The concrete edge serves as a terrain support wall and defines the boundary between the grassed meadow and the new beach area. At the same time, the artwork is what unites the beach and the meadow into a coherent beach park, as the necessary support wall is shaped into a beautiful and site-specific landscape artwork that provides space for recreational stays. It consists of a series of concrete elements, all of which have a unique shape inspired by some of nature’s own beautiful shapes. Karin Lorentzen often works with plant morphology and organic forms in her sculptures. At Hvidovre beach the shapes and forms of the concrete elements are a reinterpretation and geometry of white cabbage, where thin cuts of cabbage have been enlarged and designed into a concrete design. Many kinds of cabbage and geometries were tested throughout the process in order to create the best spaces, twists, and turns for the beach. The entire line of the sculpture has been tested 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. 64 elements were cast in 21 molds. Each element can be used in four different ways, which allows the concrete to be combined in many different ways, shapes, and forms. The elements create 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.

All photos by Naja Viscor, except the main photo by Karin Lorentzen

Location: Hvidovre, Denmark

Year of construction: 2017 | Area: 1.900 m2 | Design year: 2014

Client: Hvidovre Municipality

The project was created in a close collaboration of VEGA landskab and visual artist Karin Lorentzen. Sharing an approach to sites and spaces with at the same time is experienced and designed ‘at eye level’ as understood within their context, their collaboration so far has included works at Glorup Mansion and Hvidovre Beach as well as non-built competition proposals.

VEGA landskab is founded by Anne Dorthe Vestergaard and Anne Galmar who have a common background as both architects and landscape architects.

VEGA landskab works with a wide range of projects, from nature-based design solutions and historical parks to multifunctional urban spaces and playgrounds for learning and playing. With more than 15 years of experience, the mission is to create involving and meaningful spaces for people. Sustainability is the starting point at every project, so that the good life for future generations is secured. Sustainability is viewed as a technical discipline as well as an aesthetic concept, and inspiration is drawn from an unspoiled biotope to a theoretical framework. The main goal for the office is the shaping of beautiful and well-proportioned shared spaces that unfolds both the local and historical context and the actual use of the site.

Karin Lorentzen, visual artist Classical sculptor education in Paris and subsequently trained at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Her approach to her works is man, the landscape and the sensation, as the starting point of recognition. She is forever concerned with man’s ”being in the world”. Lorentzen collaborates with the concrete industry and new robotics on developing unique large-scale concrete in an organic design language. Main works: Hvidovre Beach Park with VEGA Landscape, Botanical Garden in Aarhus, Glorup Estate, Court of Frb. in Copenhagen.