Gellerup Urban Park

A safe and climate-adapted city park where neighborliness and the district's identity can thrive

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Karsten Thorlund

Head of SLA Aarhus, Architect MAA

Location

Aarhus, Denmark

Size

130.000 m2

Year

2014 — 2019

Client

Aarhus Kommune, Brabrand Boligforening and Realdania

Role

Lead consultant. Landscape and lighting design, community engagement processes.

Partners & Collaborators

COWI, Effekt, Gadeidræt, Social Action

‘Gellerupparken’ in Aarhus has over the years struggled with a bad reputation, negative media attention and social challenges. SLA’s revitalization project for the area’s new urban park and public spaces works as the green backbone for the transformation of Denmark’s largest and most distinctive housing area into an attractive and integrated neighborhood in Aarhus.

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The district of Gellerup is a public housing estate designed and erected in the 1960s. It is designed in the typical architectural style of the 1960s modernism with large-scale building blocks and empty and un-programmed areas between the houses. By focusing on the park’s many existing qualities, Gellerup is transformed from a solitary and uniform residential area into a vibrant, climate-adapted, and green district. A key effort in this transformation is to add a natural and human scale to the district and increase connectivity to the rest of the city.

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The overall goal of SLA’s design of Gellerup Urban Park is to increase the quality of life for the residents in Gellerup. This is done by making the area safer and more secure by creating more and better social opportunities and activities for all its users and residents. Through an extensive citizens-engagement process, all the dreams, wishes and needs of the residents were heard and integrated into the design – as well as the newest expert knowledge in safety, marginalized social groups and how to alleviate socially and physically challenging neighborhoods.

In SLA’s design, the city park will benefit the citizens in Gellerup/Toveshøj as well as the rest of Aarhus and will become a safe and beautiful green space with activities and functions for all – from playgrounds, climbing towers, and outdoor fitness, to fruit groves and greenhouses. The result is a completely new type of urban park that provides safety and new recreational opportunities for its residents while also adding a variety of aesthetic, sensual and human values, which were not present before.

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