In the middle of the 19th century, the site where the Royal Danish Opera now stands was the center of an amazing period in Danish history. Copenhagen was the center of trade in Europe: A place where ships would return from the far corners of the world with cargo and stories from places that people had barely even heard of.
in a contemporary context
Since the beginning of mass urbanization, gardens in the historic European cities have offered a refuge from the busy, noisy and polluted cities that surrounded them. Evidence-based studies dating back more than 40 years have concluded that classical gardens shaped with winding paths, defined views and a natural scenography have a healing effect on stress-related health issues.
Copenhagen’s most beautiful gardens were designed during this era, when the city was a melting pot of trade and impressions from the seven seas. The classical English romantic garden thus became the inspiration for parks such as Frederiksberg Gardens and Copenhagen’s Botanical Garden.
The Opera Park uses the elements of the historical romantic garden to tackle contemporary challenges. A multilayered slice of dense urban nature that, on the one hand, supplies the city with a source of biodiversity, creates a calm refuge for its citizens and visitors and tackles stormwater and, on the other hand, stores 300 cars underground.
The Opera Park uses the elements of the romantic garden in a modern setting. The garden contains element such as biodiversity, footpaths and a lawn, small niches and an undulating hilly landscape.
The Opera Park sets the stage for experiencing nature in the heart of Copenhagen. Like an opera stage, the park is a composed landscape with a foreground, a middle ground and a background. The plants and trees are placed, so their natural heights create the scenic setting facing the harbour.
of foreground, middle
ground and background
The decline of biodiversity in our growing cities forces us to rethink the purpose of our urban parks, viewing them not only as places for people, but also as places for life in the broadest sense. Over a period of just 10 years, the number of animal and plant species on land in Europe has been reduced by more than 40%.
A great variety of plant species and sizes spanning all seasons creates a rich environment for insects and birds to find food and shelter in the increasingly dense city.
The Opera Park is designed with small niches and pockets for people to linger, alone or in small groups, in close contact with nature. Defined views and pockets help visitors “get lost” for a little while, before returning to the busy everyday life of the city.
Urban areas are experiencing a dramatic increase in extreme weather events. In the context of high-value urban development in Copenhagen, the Opera Park serves many and multilayered performative functions in the city. The park works as a complex water cycle of infiltration, evaporation, drainage, run-off, delay and storage of water designed to handle both extreme rain and drought.
In the Opera Park the direct connection to the water is an essential part of the park experience. Challenges of extreme fluctuation of the waterline is solved by creating floodable surfaces creating an ever-changing shoreline.
the centerpeice of the park
Like any classic garden, the Opera Park has a pavilion for experiencing the natural scenography protected from rain and wind. In wintertime, the wooden roof and lush greenhouse in the center of the building light up and provide a warm shelter in cold weather. The building ensures that the Opera Park will become an active destination all year round, also during the cold winter months when the other green areas in the city are largely deserted.
The winter garden connects to the underground parking garage. The parking level is deliberately designed as an entrance space to the Opera. The café and greenhouse are perceived as a physical and visible connection between the garden and the underground parking garage, bringing the park all the way inside.