Client: Guldborgsund Kommune
Date: 2013
Status: Shortlisted competition
Program: Landscape intervention in a coastal area
Scope: Landscape design, revitalization and urban furniture

Marielyst is a small town in the south of Denmark that is well-known for being one of the most popular holiday locations on the Baltic Sea. Since the beginning of the 20th century its 20-kilometre long coastline of white sand beaches has attracted an ever-increasing number of seasonal tourists, and it now hosts 6000 summer houses in the area. The spatial configuration of Marielyst appears chaotic and lacks a recognisable identity. The principal element of the urban structure is the main street: a traffic vein that allows people to reach the heart of the small town, and from which secondary narrow streets connect to every house. The goal of the Marielyst competition was to design a spatial organization for the town in order to structure an urban articulation among its parts. Moreover, an important feature to be considered in this site’s revitalization was the “beachy” atmosphere of Marielyst, which is its main character.

Our proposition started from the identification of the land’s shape, which had changed in configuration many times until the present. In the past, the island of Falster – where Marielyst is located – was composed of three smaller islands and was reached by water. The area had also been flooded and remained swampy for many years, until the late 1800s, when it was drained. Inspired by this ancient situation, we conceived the idea of “Delta“, a sinuous and porous path that connects the dynamic activities of urban space with the relaxed atmosphere of a beach context.

The landscape project focuses on the valorization of the extraordinary natural elements that characterize the site – pines, sea, sand dunes, dikes, grass – and makes them stand out very clearly. The concept of “Delta” appears with the intention of creating many access routes to these natural landmarks, connecting them through physical and conceptual paths. The delta structure allows for the beach ambience to be pulled into the urban space, melting the two together in a fluid unity. This atmosphere is achieved by using very soft and discreet materials to create furniture elements, paths, marks and signs that simplify integration between the two ‘souls’ of the place.

We also elaborated one of the main aspects of the Marielyst STRAND proposition: the activity plan. “Let it be fun!” is the motto we chose to summarize our idea to regenerate this area, being certain that the requalification of an urban space could not disregard the involvement of people in making the place alive.

We developed a series of entertaining and bizarre urban objects and placed them in the Marielyst area in order to provide activities aimed to reinvigorate the site during both summer and wintertime. We took our inspiration from the surrounding environment to elaborate ideas that allow people to appreciate the visible and invisible natural local elements.

Our proposition for the Marielyst Strand competition mainly focused on designing urban objects that were strictly connected with the natural elements that characterize the site, such as its rich vegetation, long beaches, fresh water and strong wind.

The catalog of objects includes elements to enjoy the view of the landscape from above (the watching tower, the balloon in the sky); elements integrated with the local vegetation to enable its unconventional use as an amenity (the hammocks, the spider net, the hanging chairs, the fireplace); objects that transform the beach into a big playground (the playful tower, the oversized playground); objects that use wind in order to capture its power and transform it into energy (the windmill lamp) or just to exploit its strength in order to create ephemeral landmarks (the wind fish, the wind parade).

Other elements are movable and permit the constantly changing configuration of the place, such as the rolling cabins (temporary supports for sports activities or refreshment bars), the vehicles on wheels (elaborated bikes that can be used to move around the city and create temporary stages), movable slides, or the road benches. Moreover, special attention is given to the socializing areas, such as the rooftop terrace of an existing building along the main street, the picnic area, and the water cloud – a playful object that helps to refresh the atmosphere during the hot, sunny days of the Baltic summer.

As usual, we worked with a multidisciplinary and international team, with the Danish landscape office Kristine Jensen, after being chosen among 4 other finalists.


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