Urban Design winner 2014 – The Kalvebod Waves


The Kalvebod Waves, Copenhagen, Denmark

With the opening of the Kalvebod Waves at the harbor-front of Copenhagen, a central part of the inner harbor has finally become accessible and attractive to the public. This new public space on the water gives the harbor a new dimension as re-creational space in the center of the city.
When addressing this infamously gloomy and desolated side of the harbor, the architects put their focus on two major design aspects: to create urban continuity and to locate the new structure on the sunny spots in the water.
Facing Southeast, the quay has fantastic sun conditions until the early afternoon, but to attract the public after working hours the architects needed to study the course of the shadows casted by the huge buildings along the promenade. The two new main piers are located in the shadow-free zones and programmed as active islands on the water. The project then re-connects those islands to the urban network and to makes them blend naturally into the city’s infrastructure. Two bridges link the tip of the main piers back to the old quay, creating two inner water-basins for watersport activities.

Just like in plan, the project is making waves in the 3rd dimension: On the waving pier the citizens and visitors of Copenhagen can explore the waterfront from different levels and enjoy its’ amazing views. The visitors can get close to the water, stick their feet in or have a swim, or they can get five meters up, as if they were sailing on a boat.
The project is not over-programmed in advance. The architects’ intention was to create a frame for an unknown content, a place for public life to unfold and the unexpected to happen. Looking at it now, this was the right strategy: People adopt the Kalvebod Waves in their own ways, beyond what anyone could have imagined in advance.