Danish architectural firm C.F. Møller Architects won the competition to transform the Danish city of Aalborg’s waterfront in 2004. This September, the second phase of the transformation was launched. We took a plunge into the new water-centric urban space.
This is one of the largest infrastructure projects in Aalborg, spanning many years; engineering company COWI, C.F. Møller Landscape and ÅF Lighting have been responsible for the second phase, after the team’s successful work on the earlier phase of the central waterfront.
Before the transformation by C.F. Møller Architects, the quay along the fjord strait going through central Aalborg was characterised by heavy traffic and difficult access to the waterside. This was due to the harbour’s long-time connection to the industrial parts of Aalborg.
The master plan for the second stage of Aalborg Waterfront is based on the same principles as the first stage, with the promenade serving as a unifying element. The qualities of the whole stretch of quayside have been emphasised, with a boulevard to accommodate cyclists and pedestrians.
According to the architects, the overall ambition of the transformation has been to give the use of the port back to the city. At the same time, C.F. Møller Architects wanted to link the central urban districts to the fjord running through Aalborg. The first phase of the new waterfront was opened in late 2011, and the design set a high standard for the next phase of the development.
The focal point of C.F. Møller Architects’ project is a unifying town platform. The platform, or plinth, forms a raised base, which brings together the area’s distinctive, freestanding buildings. In this ensemble, the plaza around the House of Music, a concert hall designed by Austrian architectural practice Coop Himmelblau, is highlighted by a separate, rectangular platform.
The town plinth provides flood protection, and the parts carved out of it create a series of spaces with varied functions – protected from the wind by the platform’s sides, which are designed as steps-cum-seats. In addition, spacious plazas are integrated into the promenade, creating lush green spaces with dense groves of trees.
As for the first phase of the transformation, which covered a total of 170,000 square metres, the materials chosen for the second stage correspond to the roughness of the strait itself, and include asphalt, steel, concrete and wood. At the same time, they contain subtle references to the sea through wavy pavement patterns.