Further information about the three different sites in and around Copenhagen at which Roberto Ghezzi’s Naturografia were installed.
Kolonihaven (Allotment or Community Garden), Grantræet 29, 2750 Ballerup
“There are currently three types of garden associations in Denmark: Commercial gardens, where the land is rented and erecting buildings is not allowed; Cooperative gardens, where the land is purchased and owned by the association or by the individual allotment-holder; Allotment gardens, where the land is owned by the municipality and where building small houses is permitted. Here the allotment-holder owns the house, the garden's materials and products, while the land is rented.”1
The allotment, or ‘kolonihave’ life, was part of the working culture of the late 19th century, and had various functions. It represented the opportunity to spend some free time in a healthier and greener environment, allowing people to establish a community, while fulfilling the economic purpose of self-sustenance through the cultivation of vegetable gardens. In addition, taking care of the garden reinforced family ties, and allowed women and men to share experiences over a cup of tea or a beer in a freer social environment than was otherwise the norm.
The founder of the ‘kolonihave’ concept was Jutlandic lawyer Jørgen Berthelsen, who in 1884 rented by auction from Aalborg Municipality a surface area of 100,770 m2, for 551 Kr (perhaps 40,000 Kr today, or 4,000 GBP) for a period of 7 years.
The property was located on the periphery of the city along the river, from which was possible to easily collect water for the gardens. After the auction he asked for a dispensation from the court in Aalborg, in order to sublet the property, dividing it into smaller parcels of land. Once the dispensation was granted, Jørgen Berthelsen built a large avenue, which ended in a bridge over the river that allowed the renters to access the water. Moreover, he created narrow avenues which led to the river. In December 1884, the new allotment subletters created a board and voted to establish a fixed rental price per square metre.
Some years after in 1908, the first allotment rental association was created. It aimed at protecting the unused areas of the allotments and the rent levels that each member was paying. In 1913, a new board led by Carl Nielsen created a membership magazine, and succeeded in instituting insurance against fire and theft, while membership cards were introduced which allowed members to receive a discount from certain suppliers. Furthermore, each allotment association was given a consultant, who could offer suggestions and advice when problems regarding the cultivation of different crops arose.
In 1922, there were 51,000 gardens which were under allotment rental associations, and this number increased sharply in the interwar period to almost 100,000, before leveling off at 60,000 in the early 2000s. Nevertheless, modern allotments do not fulfill the same economic function that they used to. The majority of subletters today do not rely on their gardens to grow vegetables.
Vegetables and Herbs
During World War I, potatoes were the commonly cultivated crop in allotments. In addition, patches of land were offered free of charge for cultivation in most of the major Danish cities. In these areas cabbage, carrots and beets were grown.
In the 1920s and 1930s, most allotments were called Green Gardens or Kitchen Gardens. In these spaces some medicinal herbs such as sage and larch, and aromatic herbs such as tyme, marjoram, hyssop and chives were cultivated side by side with cabbage plants.
Allotments with large surface areas primarily contained orchards of apple and pear trees, plums and cherry varieties. Finally, allotments might also only feature flowers. These were more rare since they did not have a high use value.
1. https://deljorden.dk/artikler/kolonihaver/kolonihaver_en_dansk_tradition.html Accessed on 6th of January 2022
https://www.arbejdermuseet.dk/viden-samlinger/arbejderhistorien/plads-til-os-alle/baggaard-beton-boligbevaegelsen/kolonihavebevaegelsen/ Accessed on 6th of January 2022.
https://www.kolonihaveforbundet.dk/kolonihaveforbundet/om-os/kolonihavebevaegelsens-historie/ Accessed on 6th of January 2022
Stejlepladsen, Bådehavnsgade 53A Sydhavnen, 2450 København
“New construction in the Stejlepladsen area of Copenhagen’s South Harbor, still awaiting the green light from the politicians.”2
Until 1948, the fishing harbour in Copenhagen was located in Bådehavnsgade. Commercial fishermen utilized the area south of the harbour for hanging and drying their nets on poles or rocks. This tradition changed the name of the place to Stejlepladen.
During the 1960s and 1970s, rubble from construction sites in different parts of the city was dumped in some areas of Stejlepladsen. Through this practice a lot of different plants were brought from different places, leading to a total of 120 species. The nutrient-poor mineral soil can provide for a large diversity of plants, since demanding species do not have the right conditions through which to dominate the area. Among these species at least four are classified as invasive. In addition, there are rumours that the area was used for dumping industrial and chemical waste.
The Municipality of Copenhagen therefore highlights the need for further environmental studies to assess the quality of the soil, which due to its history may be heavily contaminated with heavy metals, oil products, tar substances and possibly also solvents.
Nevertheless, Stejlepladen hosts a vibrant community of people. Some of them belong to the old fisherman’s community, while others have established themselves in the area more recently, and built their own homes. Despite their differences, Stejlepladen’s inhabitants represent a unique and very close knit community, which offers space to an endangered industry.
Like many other areas of Copenhagen, Stejlepladen has become a very attractive area for housing developments. In September 2017, in the middle of the municipal election campaign, then Mayor Frank Jensen dropped the municipality’s plan to build the Ørestad Fælled Kvarter development with 2500 apartments in the middle of Amager Fælled, the city’s largest green area.
This was a partial victory for the people and nature activists, since the inability to sell the land caused the City of Copenhagen to lose a billion Danish crowns in revenue, which needed to be found somewhere else. The project was partly moved to another part of Amager Fælled, Vejlands Kvarter - also known as Fælledby - where there are 2,000 wooden houses, and to Stejlepladsen which has 550 houses. Behind this major project is the Municipality’s development company By & Havn (City & Harbour) and the pension fund PFA.
The plan has faced massive criticism from Fiskerhavnens Venner (Friends of the Fishing Harbour), whose spokesperson Jan Mathisen has on several occasions criticized the decision. Other organizations, such as Akademiraadet (The Committee of the Royal Academy) raised concerns and criticism. In particular, Akademiraadet remarked that By & Havn does not guarantee a sustainable neighborhood:
“The financial desire for a high and dense settlement, stands in the way of a serious treatment of the conditions. The species-rich pasture landscape at Stejlepladsen in itself represents both an aesthetic and environmental value for the district and for the entire Municipality of Copenhagen, and cannot be replaced through technical solutions”.3
Furthermore, KAB, a social housing association, has recently been nominated as a partner in providing more than 200 public housing units.4 The future of Stejlepladen is uncertain, since the formal complaint against the building plan will be handled in January 2022.
2 and 4. https://ejendomswatch.dk/Ejendomsnyt/Projektudvikling/article12678630.ece Accessed on 6th of January 2022
3. https://byrummonitor.dk/Nyheder/art7968337/Stejlepladsen-synes-styret-af-%C3%B8konomi-fremfor-af-fundamentale-byplanv%C3%A6rdier Accessed on 6th of January 2022
https://blivhoert.kk.dk/hoering/stejlepladsen-lokalplanforslag-0 Accessed on 6th of January 2022
Fælledparken, Søstien, 2100 København
“With its 58 hectares, the park boasts of being one of Copenhagen's largest parks.”5
In the Middle Ages, the area on which Fælledparken is located belonged to the village of Serridslev. In the middle of the 18th century, Øster and Nørre Allé were newly constructed as avenues, or royal roads, which started from Østerport and Nørreport respectively and met at Vibenshus. At this time, Jagtvej was also built as a royal road.
Between the avenues, the commons of Nørrefælled (the current University Park), Blegdamsfælled (the current Fælledpark, Rigshospitalet and Amorparken) and Østerfælled (the entire area between Øster Allé and Østerbrogade) arose. The three green areas were primarily used for grazing of the citizens' cattle and as a military training ground. In 1893, the municipality and the state had plans to build on these areas, but due to the growing interest of Copenhageners in outdoor life, the municipality’s building plans were delayed.
In 1872, there was a march in support of the strike of Copenhagen’s bricklayers. While the labour leaders were arrested and the demonstration was not authorized by the police, the protesters were chased away by force, which led to a tumult that became known as the "Battle of Fælleden".
In 1890, the police banned the Mayday demonstration in the streets of Copenhagen, so the workers used Fælledparken to gather, a tradition which continues until today.
In the early 20th century, new areas were incorporated into the City of Copenhagen, allowing the city to develop while keeping its green areas. Furthermore, the increasing interest in outdoor life generated the perfect conditions for Copenhagen Municipal Council to decide in 1905 that a park for people and sports should be built on the Blegdamsfælled and Østerfælled. The park would include simple large plains for meetings, parties, ball games and other sports, and some space would be left for a fenced sports field. The park could also be used for exhibition purposes.
To address all these functions, the Municipality established an open call, which was won by Nobel and Koch’s proposal. However, the other proposals would also be used as inspiration. The final project was designed by landscape gardener Edvard Glæser in collaboration with the state engineer. His plan was carried out and most of the park’s structure and plantings have since been retained. A lectern, carved from granite block, was erected in 1910, while the round café pavilion was built in 1920 as a music tribune.
In 1963, Fælledparken, owned and managed by the City of Copenhagen, came under the Nature Conservation Act, which states that the area must remain a recreational, green area and operate as a park.
The recreational aspect was boosted when Fælledparken turned 100 years old, since the A.P. Møller Foundation made an important donation to the Municipality. The donation consisted of the construction of the largest skatepark in the Nordic countries, which relied on the help and inspiration of some of the world’s best skaters.
Trees and Plants
When the park was first established, most of the trees were beech with a few groups of oak, which served as a sort of natural fence at the edge of the park. The trees standing in the park were usually the same type as the ones which fenced that particular area. Where there were deviations, birch was the main tree species.
In addition, the first plan for the park included various tree species to mark the different spaces. For example, at the main entrances tillias were planted, while at the smaller entrances, common hawthorn was planted. This choice could draw the attention of the passer-by to the smaller scale. Nevertheless, along Nørre Alle, the experience was quite the opposite: the planting borders were very narrow there, so Canadian poplar and silver poplar were chosen. This aimed at creating a natural screen from the wind, while using the narrow tracts of soil in the best possible way. Around the so-called lectern, just south of the pavilion, the plan included the planting of the bird cherry or Mayday tree, rowan, and sweet briar.
Glæser’s plan was very ambitious and aimed at creating variety, and a particular environment, which can still be experienced today.
5. https://www.dn.dk/nyheder/oplev-naturen-i-kobenhavn/ Accessed on 10th of January
Fælledparken. Historie og fornyelse af Liv Oustrup og Jonas Krik Johansen. https://tidsskrift.dk/frakvangaardtilhumlekule/article/download/104195/153132/213747 Accesed on 10th of January
Fælledparken Udviklingsplan August 2006; KØBENHAVNS KOMMUNE Teknik- og Miljøforvaltningen Vej & Park. August 2006, Rapporten er udarbejdet for Københavns Kommune, Vej & Park, Byrumskontoret af: Finn Jørsboes Tegnestue, Landskabsarkitekt MDL PLR. Medarbejdere: Richard Hare og Gertrud Jørsboe.
http://www.hovedstadshistorie.dk/oesterbro/faelledparken/ Accessed on 10th of January
https://naturibyen.com/steder/faelledparken-skatepark/ Accessed on 10th of January