_the municipalities stategy

According to Forslag til planstrategi 2011 [ the 2011 strategy plan developed by the municipality of Aarhus ] the predicted growth of Aarhus by 2030 is 50.000 workplaces and 75.000 new inhabitants in 50.000 new dwellings.

In the publication the municipality forward their solution to cope with this growth, operating with two strategies: urban renewal and satellite development. This is a short account and comment on the plan, the numbers and calculations can be found in the appendix, at the end of this pamphlet.

Urban renewal

According to the plan, urban renewal should consist of 3 mill m2 of floor space, half used for dwelling [ approx. 15.000 dwellings ] and half for workplaces [ approx. 35.000 workplaces ]. There are three main sites within the city for this development, the harbour [ 600.000 m2 ], the former Ceres brewery [ 156.000 m2 ] and the former freight yard [ 144.00 m2 ]. The remaining development is to be found in suburban, marginalised apartment block residential areas, far form the city center. [ Turn the page to see a map of the area ]

New satellite cities

The new satellite cities will have to provide 35.000 dwellings [ 3.500.000 m2; 52.500 inhabitants ] and 15.000 workplaces [ 650.000 m2 ]. The majority of new inhabitants [ approx. 36- 49.000 ] are to settle in three new developments 10-15 km outside of Aarhus, in Lisbjerg [ 25.000 ], Malling [ 4-7000 ], and Elev [ 10-17.000 ] along with Harlev, Årslev, Tilst and Skødstrup-Løgten 10-25 km outside Aarhus.

Reading the plan it became clear to me that the city was not moving towards its stated goals of the agenda 21-statement “Advancement of sustainable urban development and urban renewal. / Reduction of the environmental impact. / Advancement of biological diversity...” [ The 2011 strategy plan ] as they write that the development “shall first and foremost happen by developing four new dense cities and the renewal and densifying of the existing city” [ The 2011 strategy plan ].

The satellite development will further revoke the landscape, both through the construction of the buildings and by an increased need for expansion of the existing and development of new infrastructure.

“The new cities must have a size so they can have their own city centre, where dwellings and workplaces are neighbours. This will create an urban intensity and variation, which is a precondition for the development of an active, vibrant and independent city identity” [ The 2011 strategy plan ]. This should be the goal for every city, but as this is a plan for the development of Aarhus, why then move the development 10-15 km out of Aarhus, instead of having it within the city limits?

I have chosen to work with Aarhus as my site, in order to show a different way of developing our cities. I believe in many of the municipalities ends, but strongly disagree upon the means. This project claims to show an alternative for of development for the city. I want to show that it is possible to put the total development of 7.145.000 m2 within the existing city limits and by doing so achieving a higher quality of life for all inhabitants.


_a section through the periphery

Skanderborgvej cuts straight across the periphery in a south west / north east movement; similar to the cut I made through Paris.

Skanderborgvej hosts many different programs and scales. Walking the road, I felt the area to be disconnected. The housing program has turned its back upon the road, and is hiding in the ditches. The road is a very straight cut, and not at all the interesting spatial experience I found in Paris, with the subdued twists and turns, connecting side-spaces and changes in spatial-shape. To build an understanding of the area I started to map the points of interest in the vicinity of Skanderborgvej.


_through the green

In the 2011 strategy plan it is stated that, a plan must be developed, so at least 90% of inhabitants in Aarhus by 2012 have 500m or less to a green space.

Looking at the map I had created and contemplating the lessons from Paris and Skanderborgvej with the green-goals of the municipality, the strategy had to be about connecting; it was about connecting three very different green spaces: wetland / well kept park / forest.

cityblock villablock

_comparing city parts

An investigation into the different structures of the city reveals, that by comparison the structure of the city and the suburbs are quite identical; a cityblock fits almost perfectly, on top of a villablock.

This lead to an investigation into ground area / floor area use and density, the numbers and calculations are in the appendix at the end of this pamphlet.

The site used for the comparison is a villablock bordering on Skanderborgvej. The cityblock is assumed to be approximately 10 meters deep and five stories high.

This shows the cityblock uses roughly 3 times as much ground area, but delivers about 15 times as much floor area.


_densifying the villablock

The aim of the project is to bring the city condition to this very low dense place, very close to the center of Aarhus.

The neighbourhood was established in the 1950s. The building files show that there have been many small modifications to the villas, mainly regarding permission to build a carport.

Since the neighbourhood is more than 50 years old, there are some beautiful old trees, worthy of preservation.

To the north of the site, a green wetland is located, from here a path leads to the huge Lake Brabrand.

The site slopes, from Skanderborgvej towards Lykkeholms allé. A drop of 5-8 meters enabling a view over the wetlands.


_translating investigation to a plan

As stated in the text ‘Public Space’, public space is the most important factor in developing the city condition. As public space is defined as the gaps in the built environment, buildings have to hold the street line, in order to define this. I perceive the villa-block as a solid mass, wherein matter is removed to give room for public space. Hereby the notion of the passage and the square arises, wherein an existing tree can define a public square. The site have a suitable size for containing an inner street, as it is roughly the same size as two blocks in ‘kartoffelrækkerne’ in Copenhagen.

The complex relation of juxtaposing spaces, as in the mastersection model [ phase one: city conditions ], is further investigated in the dwelling on dwelling model; pieces of wood is stacked to create a cube and then cut open to reveal the structure. The structure that emerged have great similarities to the superimposed citydrawing [ phase one: city conditions ]. Paint was applied to one of the slices and used as a stamp, over the site, leaving a pattern of spaces, as a map. This texture layer and one created from the superimposed citydrawing became the base from which the first sketches of the plan was developed.


_testing life

How do we define temporary architecture in a world where the life-span of things in general, continuously declines?

In our society it appears that temporary and permanent states are converging - in Tokyo the average expected lifetime of a building is less than 20 years - buildings are no longer forever. Why then do we continue to construct architecture as if it was to last for a hundred years?

Is it possible to develop an architecture where the load baring system meets the permanent building code and the programmatic elements, the temporary code?

In such a system you wouldn’t buy houses or apartments but cubic meters, space. You would be responsible for developing your own threshold to the world, and your co-inhabitants. You could have space in different areas of the system, for different needs - a teenager not yet ready to move from home, a community space with your co-inhabitants, a vegetable garden in the sky next to a playground.

The villas of suburbia were built as a symbol of the good life; the good life being a permanent state, therefore they had to be very solid, i.e. no light material was allowed. They are built with concrete and brick, a solid home representing the nuclear family. It seems more like a hide out, isolation, than an open place to welcome the future.

Life is ever changing but these structures are not; they are fixed demanding a great deal of energy to make even the smallest changes to the spatial layout of the rooms and even more to change the perimeter of the house.

Copy Paste. Google earth image of Skjoldhøj parken.
Municipality plan Drawing; computer.
City Plan. Drawing; computer. The area surrounding Aarhus is high lighted and examined.
Skanderborgvej. Plan and Elevation of Skanderborgvej.
untitled Drawing; ink on paper, 260 x 230 [ mm ]. Concept of connecting various spaces of green through corridors, arcades, pathways, alleyways, walkways, skywalks etc.
Borough Plan Drawing; computer.
Site plan.
Dwelling on dwelling and sketch. Model; MDF and pinewood, 170x 170x 120 [ mm ] Sketch; ink on paper 130 x 100 [ mm ].
Walking home. Model; pine wood, 300 x 300 x 300 [ mm ]. The model was the last in a series of models investigating proximity, temporarily and relations; houses upon houses. I could walk around on my desk and started to engage with other models.
Interaction. Models start to interact, scales are mixed and changed.
Interaction. Models and drawings start to interact, scales are mixed and changed.
Buildings inhabit the metro pathways, turning the situation into a city.
City Collage. Collage; pencil, print, model-pictures on paper, pinewood and MDF, 500 x 350 x 90. At a later stage of the project, a collage were developed, to test ideas against each other and to create an archive of them.
City Collage. Close up, through the drawing images of a life inside the block is revealed.
City Collage. Close up. Openings in the structure admits light to the block, opens views and creates "texture" in the facade.