Arbor harbor

By Catherine A. Cardno, Ph.D.

Architects Marshall Blecher, from Australia, and Magnus Maarbjerg, from Denmark, have created a design for an archipelago of floating, landscaped parks that will be located in the Copenhagen, Denmark, inner harbor. Dubbed a “parkipelago” by the designers, the parks can be used as stand-alone spaces for individuals or small groups interested in stargazing or relaxing in the sun, for example, or clustered together to form larger spaces for groups and events. The public parks will be free to use and accessible to boaters, fishers, kayakers, and swimmers, according to material distributed by the designers.

Enhanced by trees and other foliage and grasses, the parks will be irrigated by rainwater, which will also be collected in a hidden reservoir for use as necessary by the plantings. The floating islands will provide habitats for birds and insects above the water and seaweed, fish, and mollusks in the water. While the current designs are landscaped, other options could include a sail-in cafe or floating saunas, according to the designers.


Blecher and Maarbjerg want to bring space for whimsy and wonder into the harbor and expand recreational options as urban development continues to squeeze out waterfront recreational spaces.

The parks will be anchored in place with movable concrete mooring blocks connected to chains. This will minimize the drift of the islands, according to Blecher, who responded in writing to queries from Civil Engineering. It will also mean the parks can be moved and positioned at various locations within the harbor, depending on the season or their desired use. They should not be affected by rising sea levels.

Boatbuilders will construct the parks from steel plate and timber cladding, using traditional boatbuilding methods and sustainably sourced and recycled materials. The parks are being designed to require minimal maintenance, according to Blecher.

Three islands will be launched this year, joining a prototype launched in 2018. Additional islands are in development. And such parks are not limited to the Copenhagen inner harbor—they can be installed and utilized in any harbor, according to the designers.

This department first appeared in the September 2020 issue of Civil Engineering.                           

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