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Rosa Barba Prize 1: Nicolai Kulturcenter
Nicolai Kulturcenter


The recipient of the 5th Rosa Barba European Landscape Award, announced recently in Barcelona during the 5th European Biennale of Landscape Architecture, is the Nicolai Kulturcenter in Kolding, Denmark, designed by Kristine Jensen.

Nicolai Kulturcenter


The project, we read, involved transforming what was little more than an alleyway — or a “lousy backyard,” as the landscape architect describes it in the most recent dispatch of Terragrams — into a multipurpose cultural space that is “more attractive and inviting than its predecessor.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter


The program “consists of various elements that are connected to areas designated for outdoor activities: the entrance; a garden where children can play and relax on the grass; a terrace for patrons of the cinema caf├ęs; a large circular stage used for outdoor cinema in summer and for theater performances and concerts; a shopping area; a small garden next to the music hall; and a multifunctional square. A Cor-Ten steel wall and a Cor-Ten steel stage/platform have been built along the two terraces situated on the west side.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter


Apart from the stage, perhaps the site's other signature element is the graphic pattern, rendered on the ground out of white thermoplastic. It gives the space an element of play and fun, which is a nice contrast to the industrial nature of the Cor-Ten steel, the grimy asphalt and the dour facade of the buildings. Moreover, it helps to partition the various outdoor rooms without adding to the clutter. There is compartmentalized density but also an openness and a flexibility, order but also disorder.

In her presentation of the project at the biennale, Jensen quoted Marc-Antoine Laugier:

Anyone who knows how to design a park properly will have no difficulty designing a plan by which a city will be built - in terms of its location or area. Squares, intersections and streets are needed. Regularity as well as strangeness are needed, correspondences and antitheses, accidents that vary the picture, great order to the details, but confusion, clashing and tumult in the whole.


“This quotation,” explained Jensen, “not only reflects the necessity of contradiction and counteraction in any kind of planning, whether the character is evergreen or never green, to me it also reveals a simple program on how to work within an urban context.

“Parks, as well as cities, are built, dismantled and rebuilt over time - revealing structures and spaces that reflects the ongoing times in the urban fabric that dissolve into a different sort of text or narrative patterns that engender superficial depths. In this, at both daylight and neon light, the world unfolds itself in a super spatial surface as complex, immeasurably vast, wonderful and sometimes almost incomprehensible.”

Nicolai Kulturcenter


Nicolai Kulturcenter


Nicolai Kulturcenter


Nicolai Kulturcenter


Nicolai Kulturcenter


Nicolai Kulturcenter
5 COMMENTS —
  • AO
  • November 19, 2008 at 9:58:00 AM CST
  • At first I thought the thermoplastic was an embedded LED pattern. I like the creative reuse of a simple material we see all the time. Thanks for the post!


  • Georgia
  • November 19, 2008 at 12:14:00 PM CST
  • The Cor-Ten steel elements are reminiscent of Richard Serra's Wake at Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park.


  • Christine
  • November 21, 2008 at 1:19:00 AM CST
  • I love the light up flower wall. It is so unexpected. Good thing they have really long nights in Denmark - this feature can be put to good use.


  • Anonymous
  • January 18, 2009 at 6:14:00 AM CST
  • why is it that the cultured and progressives always build useless things. what is the point of constructing things where the layman might not even have the capacity to appreciate them. well it probably just me and then this is in europe...

    could it be that europe with it long standing history as been able to form a more agreeable meshed culture. like the treads of a well made tapestry weaved by someone with experience...i would like to experience the ol' world in such a way...meh


  • Anonymous
  • January 18, 2009 at 8:57:00 AM CST
  • I think its really enjoyable space. Simple and in spite of contrasts, it works well somehow. That was a goal, right?
    And also I am very surprised, cause landscape architect didn´t spend too much time looking for spatial elements, just played with a surface and graphics.
    the only thing which i don´t understand really, is why la surrounded and enclose arena with high corten wall?


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