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Nature based solutions

Sønder Boulevard

12. December 2016

Solution provider

SLA architects
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Sustainable and future-proofed urban space development

Our cities constantly change and face new challenges when new areas develop and others decay - if not taken care of. Urban regeneration is a sustainable approach to reorganising and upgrading existing places, rather than planning new urbanisation, but what makes a robust, long-lasting and successful development? 

South Boulevard cuts through inner Copenhagen like a fragment of the 19th Century’s dream of the great metropolis. By the late 20th century, however, not much was left of that greatness. The boulevard had deteriorated into a barren, desolate and unsafe thoroughfare reserved for cars at high speed and the surrounding neighbourhood was challenged by crime, violence and social issues.

SLA was assigned to change the 1.2 km long South Boulevard from traffic infrastructure into a new kind of infrastructure. Through a comprehensive and specially designed community participation process the residents were allowed to dream and articulate their needs and wishes for their new boulevard, such as new nature amenities, playgrounds, basketball courts, better-sitting arrangements, outdoor services, etc. From this participation process, SLA developed a flexible framework which not only could incorporate all the citizens’ needs and requests; but which could also adapt to the future needs of the area. By narrowing the boulevard’s roads the traffic and speed were reduced and the recreational space down the center of the boulevard was widened. The result is a lush, inclusive and extremely lively social space and one of Copenhagen’s most popular urban destinations.

South Boulevard also shows how green investment pays off: a recent research study has shown that each dollar invested in nature has resulted directly in 25 dollars gained in rising real estate prices in the immediate area.

The project showcases sustainable regeneration and how an area mostly associated with infrastructure can be transformed into a recreational and inviting public space. Its flexible frame and strong roots in the local community secures a long-lasting development that is able of handling tomorrow's change.