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Urban planning and development




Transforming social housing with nature

10. August 2023

Solution provider

SLA architects

Award winning SLA is a Danish architecture practice, which creates modern, adaptable cities that inspire community and diversity through innovative use of nature, design, sustainability and technology. The projects solve some of today’s hardest urban problems while creating genuine urban qualities that add new meaning our cities.

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A new nature park in Aarhus, Gellerupparken, has provided the green backbone for transforming a deprived area of 1960s public housing estates into socially and environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods.

As Denmark’s largest social housing area, Gellerup is formed of large-scale building blocks and empty, un-programmed areas between houses. The project’s overall goal is to increase the quality of life for the residents by making the area safer, increasing connectivity to the rest of the city, and creating better social opportunities and activities for users and residents.  


The project incorporated the area’s many existing elements while introducing new architectural ones to provide activities and functions for all from playgrounds, climbing towers, and outdoor fitness, to fruit groves and greenhouses. The park design was conceived through an extensive citizen engagement process, supplemented by expert knowledge in safety and marginalised groups.


Photo credit: Rasmus Hjortshøj


The project has transformed a solitary and uniform residential area into a vibrant, climate-adapted green neighbourhood. The result is a new form of ‘social nature’ that has measurably improved the safety, climate resiliency, biodiversity, and life quality of the area.  


COWI, Effekt, Gadeidræt, Social Action 

Urban green transition

This case is a part of the white paper “Urban green transition”:

A 40-page showcase of why holistic and strategic city planning and development within mobility and infrastructure, climate adaptation, as well as environmentally conscious architecture and construction, must take centre stage in the transformed cities of tomorrow.

Explore the white paper