The Danish landscape architect Mette Bruun Yde combines a playful approach to our everyday environment with a keen interest in scenography. Her new studio MBYLand is about to finish an urban landscape plan for generous, multifunctional spaces that reconnect with the natural qualities of the city of Ringkøbing.
When it comes to defining new landscape and urban-planning solutions, Mette Bruun Yde has tested many different models while collaborating in various projects over the years. Indeed, she has worked with multiple architectural offices over the last decade, including partnering with a colleague in the urban-planning studio BSAA URBANlab over the last five years; until in April 2016, she decided to start up her own studio: MBYLand.
This allowed Mette Bruun Yde to work single-handedly on a new urban landscape project for the City of Ringkøbing in Western Jutland. The concept behind the project was to make a friendlier and safer environment around a central public school in the city, she explains.
“Only a few decades ago, children would use the whole neighbourhood as their playground, but today parents hesitate to let their children run around freely. The project design is a reaction to the tendency of children to nowadays becoming increasingly domesticated and under ever closer surveillance by adults”, Mette Bruun Yde states and continues:
“In workshops held with children and other stakeholders, including school board members, public swimming pool staff and the elderly, we realised that many children actually feel a bit unsafe when they go to school. So changing this to make children feel safe is central to the new plan, as well as making the experience of the environment multi-layered and playful”, says Mette Bruun Yde.
MBYland has reshaped the surroundings utilised for free play and movement, allowing parents to let their children walk to school alone and at the same time encouraging new explorations and recreational detours. Converting streets and parking lots into playgrounds and activity landscapes will make the local environment around the school safer. The Children’s City project in Ringkøbing utilises the idea of three different routes, where you can, among other things, do fitness activities along the pathways and next to the fjord, while other stretches lead you through fairy-tale-like landscapes.
Among the new ideas are three new outstanding public destinations: Two of these are big playgrounds located just next to the school, while the third is a swimming amphitheatre. One of the big playgrounds, just in front of the main entrance to the school, stretches across the present street and into the gardens on the other side of the street, where the residents of a care home had expressed interest in having more contact with the children and the life of the school. Today, the street can be very chaotic in the morning when children are dropped off from their parents’ cars. To relieve this pressure, MBYLand proposed moving the parking lot 100 metres further down the street. The second playground aims to activate the unused spaces, projecting the idea of a long snake with different sections and themes in the adjacent empty areas. The third destination, a swimming amphitheatre, situated partially at the beach, partially in the water, picks up on the desires of the City of Ringkøbing to reconnect to its attractive seaside position and aims to appeal to people of all ages, offering a rich pallet of play, swimming and seating facilities.
“Many landscape plans follow simple, striking concepts, whereas I am more part of a movement that aims for a more patchwork-oriented style of planning, one which dissolves the overall image. I feel very inspired by plans carried following a strong concept, but trying out other and different approaches to projects created by my own hand attracts me, too”, Mette Bruun Yde says. “The pleasing qualities of iconic plans are their clear, convincing story and comprehensibility. Images make it easy to communicate an idea. However, this design method might risk the designer falling too much in love with a single principle, subordinating everything to this and in the end even deciding people’s movements from A to B for them. My plan for Ringkøbing, for instance, uses the imagery of a snake, but on a smaller scale and as a part of several subdivided layouts. I think it is a good flexible design for everyday-life.”