The extensive transformation of the Aalborg Waterfront reaches another milestone today with the grand opening of the areas around Musikkens Hus (the House of Music), which add new qualities to one of the most popular port regeneration projects in Denmark.
The Coop Himmelblau-designed concert hall “Musikkens Hus” opened in spring 2014, followed shortly after by the other buildings in the area, and now the public outdoor spaces are also completed. This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Aalborg, and it has spanned many years. COWI, C.F. Møller Landscape and ÅF Lighting have been responsible for the House of Music area, after the team’s successful work on the earlier phases of the central waterfront.
The overall ambition of the transformation has been to give the use of the port back to the city, and to link the central urban districts to the fjord. The first phase of the new waterfront was opened in late 2011, and the multiple-award winning design – including the Danish Lighting Award, the Roadway Prize, the Danish Construction Industry’s honorary award and Aalborg Municipality Architecture Award – has set a high standard for the next phases of the development.
Dune landscapes and flood protection
The central idea of the second phase is the continuation of the waterfront promenade as a “marsh” in combination with a light curving plinth, upon which the buildings are located as in a raised dune landscape. The planting consists of trees, shrubs and grasses that are native to North Jutland fjord landscape.
The raised plinth provides flood protection, and the incisions carved into it create a series of spaces with varied functions – protected from the wind by the plinth’s sides, which are designed as seating steps. The master plan for Aalborg Waterfront links the city’s medieval centre with the adjacent fjord, which has previously been difficult for citizens to access due to the industrial harbour and the associated heavy traffic.
By tying in with the openings in the urban fabric, a new relationship between city and fjord is created, and what was formerly a back-side is turned into a new, highly attractive front. Following the huge success of the first phase of the new waterfront, designed and realized by C.F. Møller Landscape in collaboration with Vibeke Rønnow Landscape Architects from 2004 to 2013.
The second stage continues the same basic approach and adds new variations of spaces centred on the Coop Himmelblau-designed concert hall, the Aalborg House of Music (Musikkens Hus). The master plan for the second stage of Aalborg Waterfront is thus based on the principles from the first stage, with the promenade as a unifying element.
It has also drawn inspiration from the meeting between the dunes and the flat foreshore. The central idea of the second phase is the continuation of the waterfront promenade as a “marsh” in combination with a light curving plinth, upon which the buildings are located as in a raised dune landscape. The plinth forms a raised base which unifies the area’s distinctive, freestanding buildings including university buildings, student housing and the concert hall.
In this ensemble, the plaza around the concert hall is highlighted by an independent, rectangular plinth. The urban plinth provides flood protection, and the incisions carved into it create a series of spaces with varied functions – protected from the wind by the plinth’s sides, which are designed as seating steps. Spacious plazas are integrated into the promenade sequence, creating lush green spaces with dense groves of trees.
The planting consists of trees, shrubs and grasses that are native to North Jutland fjord landscape. In contrast to the fine materials used in the plinth, the other surfaces used in the area are raw and simple, in asphalt, in situ-cast concrete and wood – just as in the first stage of Aalborg Waterfront. Source by C.F. Møller.
Location: Aalborg, Denmark
Architects: C.F. Møller
Collaborators: ÅF Hansen & Henneberg, lighting design
Landscape: C.F. Møller Landscape
Client: Aalborg Municipality
Area: 170,000 m2
Competition: 2012 (1st prize)
Photographs: Joergen True, Courtesy of C.F. Møller