Appendix 11: Kanten/The Edge related: Inspiration videos, meeting notes, and judges' report
Virtual start-up inspiration seminar for design competition Kanten/The Edge
Five inspirational videos were created for Kanten/The Edge design competition (15 April 2020) for the entrants to introduce them to the history of Vejle, its contextual background, the main focus of the competition brief and the different perspectives from experts ranging from art, landscape architecture and marine biology. The videos are to provide inspiration and information to kick off Kanten/The Edge competition. Refer to: https://vejle.citizenlab.co/da-DK/projects/idekonkurrencen-kanten for the videos (in Danish and English). The Danish inspiration videos are translated into English, and the transcripts are shown below:
Introduction to the idea of competition Kanten
Background to the competition, storm surge protection is growing with the city
Introduction to the competition assignment (especially the nature-based solutions)
By Christina Korsbek Olesen / Lotta Tiselius from Vejle Municipality
Presentation on water, nature and art in Vejle / Another perspective on water (Oplæg om vandet, naturen og kunsten i Vejle / Et andet perspektiv på vand)
By Lisbet Wolters - city architect for Vejle Municipality
Review of the competition area (site) and the two zones
By Lotta Tiselius from Vejle Municipality
Inspirational presentation 1: Urban seascaping
By Soo J. Ryu - PhD fellow, Aarhus School of Architecture
Inspiration presentation 2: Between land and water in Vejle Fjord / Sund Vejle Fjord (Mellem land og vand i Vejle Fjord / Sund Vejle Fjord)
By Mads Fjeldsø - biologist, Nature & Outdoor Life (Natur & Friluftsliv)
Inspiration presentation 3: A different perspective on water / Asking a new question (Et andet perspektiv på vand / At stille ny spørgsmål)
By Marie Markman - landscape architect, artist and art consultant
Appendix 11A: Video 1: The City, Water, and Art – A common ground by Lisbeth Wolters (the city architect of Vejle) - translated into English
The creation of the city, topography, and water
Hi, my name is Lisbeth Wolters, a city architect from Vejle Municipality. I will talk about my perspectives on urban development and water in Vejle. The word Vejle means ‘ford’ (the only place where one can cross the river). Vejle City has emerged as a little settlement on a little elevation in a river valley. The elevation allowed you to cross the river valley without getting wet feet when going from north to south or vice versa. There was a little elevation, and that is where Vejle is placed today. Here the deep fjord meets the river valley while the hills surround the city from north to south, and the rivers twists and turn through Vejle Kommune and gather in the city to flow out into the fjord. Vejle thus was created on the conditions of the water, and the existence of water is integral to the self-perception of Vejle. The rivers and streams defined the city’s border with the landscape, and the streams supplied (mentions a specific place with specific streams) worked as an early harbour. Back then, there was a special connection between the city and the water. In the drawing of Vejle from 1627, you can clearly see the connection between the city and the water. The presence of water is a condition for the city’s existence, and the city’s structure is a consequence of the landscape and the topography around it.
Later they had to transform the city’s areas; they had to build residences and industry, harbour activities etc. Industrious activities have filled out the fjord water and built the city further and further east into the ocean, and in that sense, the presence of the water in the city has diminished.
The beech forest and the topographical landscape are a part of the nature around Vejle. It is a big potential, and on a beautiful spring day like today, the water – as it is materialized in the trickles down the stream - is one of the most calming and beautiful sounds that you can enjoy if you move through the landscape. On a day like this, the water is not a threat but an aesthetic dimension when you go for a walk, almost like a symphony; this sensibility toward the water’s trickling is something we enjoy when we walk out here.
The City, The Fjord, and the Space of the Edge
The border between the city and the water is changeable. Those of us who live in the city think that the edge that the city creates toward the water is a fixed thing, the edge between the city and the water is a definite line. In reality, however, this border is very fluid and changeable. Historically, Vejle has developed from within the elevation of the town from the Middle Ages, and now it has been developed far into the fjord water. In that sense, the border has always been in different places. At the harbour, where I am now, is one of Vejle’s newest architectonic works, Fjordenhus, which is behind me here, drawn by Olafur Eliasson. Furthermore, he actually works, with this work, with this border between the city and water. In his building, the border becomes space and form. He has composed his work excellently. You start out by coming into this place covered in cobblestone. From the dense city, which you leave behind, you enter this kind of pause. It is a place where you take a deep breath before you go in and experience his work. Then you walk across this pier, which is quite long and which extends into the fjord, and which is slightly conical, which highlights the perspective and the experience even further and guides one’s gaze out into infinity, into the fjord water, and here he introduces what it is all about. You let your gaze rest on this sight, and then you walk across a bridge and into the building.
You step onto a bridge and into another world, perhaps a ship? Into something that is undefinable. It is still a wharf, but it is a sheltered space, yet you are also outside and inside at once. In general, Eliason’s work questions what a city is and what water is as well as how water can affect our experience of the city, which we leave behind when we step unto the bridge.
Inside the building, there are also actual pieces of art that also work with the element of water. There is a work called ‘underwater expectations’, which you have to look far into the water to notice. There is also another work that is called Fjordreflector, where the playful reflection of the light on the water enters the building. It is a sensorial experience of the water, which, in reality, down here at the harbour is a threat because it is also a building that is at risk of storm surge. Because it is this part of the city that is under threat of storm surge. Yet despite this, Eliason has accomplished getting this aesthetic sensorial quality into his work. Seen from my perspective as ‘stadsarchitect’ (city architect), this building itself is ensured against sea-level rise. It is placed into the water, which grows along the side of the building. But the bottom level of the building is made so that in case of sea-level rise, those with the upper floors can sit and work without being flooded. So this is a resilient way of building, and it is also a way of a building where this whole attention to the water is something changeable and aesthetic and sensorial element while also being something threatening and violent. Here, the edge is not a sharp line but a space where the water’s poetry is set loose.
Art in the city
In Vejle, we have a big tradition of using art and architecture when we are developing our city space. You can see this when you walk around the city, and it shows in everything from manhole covers to the fences on the bridges, “spånsvægge” along the city’s streams. Lightning and spaces and plazas and playgrounds and even the waste water facilities have been worked by artists, who have interpreted the city and the nature around it and in each, their way contributes to providing an experience when you walk through the space of the city. Here, in the “monumel”-area, in Jelling, there is an artistic work which has worked with an old Viking site. And perhaps, instead of making a true imitation of the palisade of the building as it looked like in the time of Harald Bluetooth, then you have here, in Vejle Kommune, chosen to interpret this palisade (which was done by Inger Kronhammer og Kristine Jensen). Here, you see how the palisade’s extension and geometric forms have been interpreted with white concrete elements, which of course, do not imitate how it looked back then but might, in fact in a much better way to convey the sense of grandness to the many visitors who come here every day.
We also have a gravel pit which has been worked in by Robert Jacobsen and Jean Clareboudt. Their artwork uses iron constructions that make us notice the movement of the sun, using shadows and materials that pick up the presence of light and the sun and give us another sensorial experience of the natural surroundings that we live amidst.
Architecture, Art, and Architectural Politics
In Vejle, we consider art, not as a special or separate measure from the other things we do. In “teknisk forvalting”; which is where I work, we make roads and city spaces, and technical facilitates, and climate-change safety measures. And in doing so, we often look at these things from an artistic perspective. That is also what we want to do with this competition. With art, we explore how to get something alternative out of things. If we are building and investing anyway, then how can we get the artistic dimension with us into what we do.
For example, we made an art boardwalk, which started as a completely common project of making a road and boardwalk and climate safety measures, but then we worked artistically by inviting Anders Bonnesen to make a work in it. He created a poem which unfolds across 400 meters, which reads as you read from A to B. We thus made something as boring and dull as a boardwalk into something interesting, which is part of the city space.
Vejle commune was the first municipality to adopt ‘architectural politics’. We did that in 1997, and it is actually the essence of the politics that we are working with today. Here, the politicians have formulated how both architectural and artistic quality needs to be a central element when we develop our city and when we create good public spaces for its citizens. So, in reality, one might say that we have a political mission and political mandate to try to work with storm surge safety-making and the edge between water and city as something that can more than simply be a technical barrier and a technical solution.
Art and Resilience
And then I think that art can do something special when we talk about some of these violent and unfathomable challenges that we see ahead of us in the future. Rising sea levels, increased rainfall, and storm surges are all things that are very abstract and can be hard to understand because they are 100-year events, and ‘KOTER’ and CO2 Emission reductions that we talk about in percentages. The language of these challenges is very technical, and it is very far away from the potential that there is in the way that we have an opportunity to connect with the water. I think art can help us understand these challenges in a new way, and it can help connect us to the future in ways that, perhaps, could make us more resilient people and more resilient citizens in Vejle.
Appendix 11B: Video 2: Ecosystem services in Vejle Fjord by Mads Fjeldsø Madsen (marine biologist) - translated into English
Hello everybody. My name is Mads, and I am a biologist in Vejle Municipality, where I am part of the Nature and Wildlife Group under “Teknik og Miljø”. I am at home here in my cosy living room. I am in corona quarantine, so if anybody is wondering about the odd location for talking about coastline protection and storm surge protection, then that is why. I also want to stress that I am not an expert in coastline protection or storm surge protection, but I want to still try to give a short introduction to some of the mechanisms that work in the natural protection of our coasts in Denmark in normal circumstances, and by normal I mean healthy coastal areas and healthy ocean environments. There aren’t that many left of those, so there are definitely some imbalances that we feel very much today, and I will try to talk about those as well.
I’m going to start by talking about a big project in Vejle right now. We call it “healthy Vejle Fjord”, which started on 1/1/2020 and is going to run for the next five years. The project is financed by Velux Fonden. It is a project that, as a municipal project, is very ambitious in which we want to try to restore the nature in Vejle fjord and change some of the imbalances that we see there today. And this includes coastal protection.
In the last decades, we as a human species have affected our ocean environments in very negative ways. We have, since the 1950ies and 1960ies, emitted a lot of nutrients into the ocean environments, especially in the inner Danish waters, and this is a big problem. I will get back to that. But we also experience big challenges in relation to climate; we experience warmer temperatures and higher rainfall, which means that we get bigger storms. And storms and currents are both important factors in relation to coastal protection.
If we are to provide a brief overview of the problems that Vejle Fjord is facing, then we can primarily highlight that we have, throughout a number of years, emitted nutritional salts (næringssalte - fertilizer). Nutritional salts (næringssalte - fertiliser) are, amongst other things, from agriculture but also from the cities. We’ve become better over the last 20 years; since the ‘water mixers’ started in the mid 80ies, then we have seen a dramatic reduction in the emission of nutritional salts (fertilizer), which are so tough on our ocean environment. In fact, we have today halved the emissions that we had at the beginning of the 80ies. The main problem for Vejle fjord is that the many nutritional salts result in algae blooms. The most negative consequence of this is that the transparency of the water is reduced drastically, and this means that many of the natural plants that have been in the fjord (which are still there, but in very limited numbers) are now heavily affected. Especially ålegræs (eelgrass) is suffering from the fact that the transparency of the water is bad. It is in addition not only transparency but also that other algae species grow on the ålegræs, which limits the light intake that the ålegræs needs to grow. Ålegræsset has for many years been very dense, and the fact that the ålegræs-beds have disappeared has negative consequences for the protection of our coasts.
Apart from the negative effects that the nutritional salts (fertilizer) have on the ålegræs and the algae that grow on it (and thus suffocate the ålegræs), the big blooms of plankton-algae means that when the algae die, they fall to the bottom as a layer of mud, in some cases up to several meters thick. And these layers – and the radical changes it has to the sediment of the sea floor have had big consequences for Vejle fjord. The Ålegræs, apart from being suffocated, have a hard time connecting to the sea bed. And this is another factor why the Ålegræs is in sharp decline.
We see similar things in the “rørsumpe” (reed bed), which we see along Ibek Strandvej. We have images from the 1940s where we had enormous “rørsumpe” throughout Vejle fjord. Typically, it is tagrør. We can also see that this plant has declined heavily in the transitions from the water phase to the land. It has also diminished significantly. Probably because of the changed sedimentary conditions in the fjord.
Finally, the increased amount of mud has consequences for the mussels in Vejle Fjord. There have been large amounts of blue mussels and blue mussel beds. Large structural reefs of blue mussels, and they too, have disappeared significantly. We are not entirely sure why but it is most likely because the small mussel larvae have a hard time growing on top of mud surfaces. They prefer more fixed and firm substrates such as stone or sand, and they struggle to stick to these when there is so much mud.
This is all very technical, I guess, but the overall point is that we have lost a lot of the fixed structures of the inner fjord. We have lost some of the structures that are important for coastal protection. We have lost the mussel beds, which have dissipated the waves. The beds have taken the energy out of the waves before they reach the land, and that was the first barrier. The second barrier, in a way, has been the Ålegræs, which also take some of the energy from the waves. And then, finally, when we reach closer to land, we used to have “rørsumpe”, which also affected the water flood. And when you remove these natural barriers, then we experience increased stress on the ocean coast.
This project, “Healthy Vejle Fjord”, tries to undo these imbalances in the fjord. It is not a project that is exclusively dedicated to coastal protection, but it is a project that is about restarting the natural mechanisms. Because it is clear that, when you remove the Ålegræs, which you can compare a bit with the forests of the land, we lose the mussel beds, and to some extent also stone reefs – as many of these have been removed – when you lose these firm structures, then you also rob the structures that fish use. You lose places where the fish can hide. The natural balance between big fish and small fish and fish breeding has been lost. This has meant for Vejle Fjord that the big fish, the predators, such as cod and whiting (Merlangius merlangus), and flounder (they all eat crabs) have almost all but disappeared. Again, this has meant that the beach crab (crab) has exploded. There are millions and millions of beach grabs (crab) in Vejle Fjord today. Again, this is a bad circle because the crabs can also destroy the ålegræs beds. The crabs, like the crustacean, help keep the levels of bad algae down (i.e. mussels). The crabs predate on these crustaceans and so on. These mechanisms have been broken. So, with Healthy Vejle fjord, we are trying to re-plant the Ålegræs. To give it a bit of first-aid. To plant it manually. That is one of the big nature restoration projects of the project. The other is to try to reproduce the mussel beds. Recreate them in facilities when they are large enough to survive on the muddy ocean bed and when they have reached the size where the crabs can’t eat them. So we are giving the mussels a bit of starting-help. Finally, we are also trying to put out new stone reefs. There probably weren’t that many stone reefs left in the past, but there have been some, and we are trying to put out new ones by simply putting out stone into the fjord. Finally, we are trying to reduce the number of crabs, at least in the area where we are planting ålegræs/eelgrass, because this will lead to less stress on the new ålegræs beds. Of course, we cannot fish all the crabs, but we are trying to keep the levels of crabs low in the areas where we have been working. Storm surge is typically a consequence of a number of events that happen simultaneously. Typically, it happens that we, following a number of days with a rough wind from the West, experience a higher level of water in the fjord caused by the “vindstuvning” [wind something] - Water from the Østersøen accumulates and eventually, it needs to go back, and that affects the water level in Vejle fjord significantly. The high water level, in combination with increased rainfall, results in the fact that Vejle Å and the Græs Å cannot get rid of their water, and that leads to flooding. In relation to “Healthy Vejle Fjord”, then there is no doubt about the fact that if we are successful in doing what I described earlier, then this will have an effect. But I need to stress that these phenomena are the result of a wide range of factors and that these need to be addressed in order to engage in storm surge protection. The biological mechanisms cannot resolve all the problems, but the project of a healthy Vejle fjord would be able to contribute to reducing the water levels (height of storm surge) in the fjord in these cases where there is a high level. At least, it will take a lot of energy out of the waves. So, if we are able to get the Ålegræs back, then that will be a very good step in the right direction. It is possible to do much more in the inner fjord specifically, especially from a biological perspective. It isn’t an easy science because just establishing ålegræs in the fjord can be difficult, given some of the issues that I have outlined above. But if you consider the inner fjord and look at the biology and ecology in that literal zone that exists between the deep waters and into the shallow waters and into the coast and into this – by looking at this zone, we can create better coastal protection. You might imagine that the first part of the biological barrier is the ålegræs, which is at 1.5-2 meters depth, which could be the first thing we can get back, which would be the first element in this littoral zone in this barrier. Behind this, we could imagine the mussel beds being established, which would reduce the energy of the waves, and then finally, you could imagine in the third phase/succession along the coast that we could work with “rørsumpen” and, in reality, also the beach itself. If you look at Tirsbæk strandvej in the stretch from the harbour out to the Skyttehus-have, then there are a lot of options that one might do. You could, for instance, make it significantly wider, if that was possible, and to establish a rørsump and make the zone wider than it is today. A wider coast stretch would also create better recreational possibilities in relation to the stretch between the harbour and the Skyttehus-have. And it would create much better conditions for life, especially birds, if you had a wider rørsump on that stretch. This, however, wouldn’t be that easy because things do not simply grow in and of themselves. We work with “salinity”. There is salt water in the fjord, but the closer we get to the outpour from Vejle Å, the more fresh water it becomes. So you’d have to work with some organisms and plants that can live with that level of salinity that exists. There will be species that I would be able to point out that could work in relation to this kind of biological storm surge protection. In addition to the Ålegræs and the tagrør, one might also consider a plant-like “Rødel – (Alnus glutinosa)”, which endures some level of salinity. It is already there on the stretch of the Tirsbæk Strandvej. It has kind of the same function as the mangrove has in tropical countries, as its wide roots help secure and fix the substrate along the coast. There are also other plants that might be relevant to look at. Apart from “ålegræs” and “tagrør” and “rødel” (Alnus glutinosa), you might also consider “børstebladet vandaks”, which is robust and salinity-enduring. In general, you should look at a mosaic of plants and biological structures; if you want to look at the storm surge protection in Vejle Fjord – a mosaic of measurements would be my suggestion for a good approach.
Plants (and fish) that grow in Vejle Fjord that makeup salt marsh and wetlands:
Ålegræs (Eelgrass) – In drastic decline
Rørsumpe (reed bed)
Tagrør (Phragmites australis) – Common Reed - In drastic decline
Rødel (Alnus glutinosa) – Black Alder (Denmark’s equivalent of mangroves)
Børstebladet vandaks (Potamogeton pectinatus) - Fennel pondweed
Blue Mussels (blue mussel beds) – in decline
Small baby fish have nowhere to hide (due to a lack of eelgrass and reed beds) and thus never grow to be big fish. Hence big fish like cod (which eats small fish and crabs) is in decline
Whiting - Merlangius merlangus
Millions of crabs (no predators) destroy by eating eelgrass (unbalanced system) and mussels.
Appendix 11C: Video 5: A different perspective on the water – on asking new questions by Marie Markman (Artist, consultant, researcher) - translated into English
What kind of solutions do we need to begin making by the end of 2020 if we need to be able to live at the fjord and the ocean and the forces that reside there.
Vejle Kommune has initiated the new competition ‘Kanten’, where they seek new possibilities and solutions on how we can co-exist with the rising seawater. They seek solutions across art and natural science, and they seek ways to do things in a new way. These are global problems. We are under pressure everywhere in the world by the rising sea levels, but it is local solutions that we search for in relation to ‘Kanten’. Place-specific solution for Vejle. We are looking for places where water meets the asphalt and the city as well as the place where water meets the more open landscapes, such as the place where I am standing now. We hope that many people will apply.
My work areas are mainly art, urban planning, and research, and to combine these things. My big interest is in creating transdisciplinary alliances that can help face the problems that we have. Vejle Kommune asked me, in connection with a sum of money from Realdania for the rising sea level, to be part of the project, and this has led to many very interesting conversations about perspectives of time and what kinds of things we have to consider in new ways in the future city planning. One thing we talked about as being important was having the courage to start projects that are innovative, despite the uncertainty of knowing where these projects end. It is the future generations that will be taking up the projects where we leave them, working with them in their own ways, and we have to have confidence in these future generations. But it is, professionally, an immense pleasure to see artists, landscape architects, and urban planners be invited as peers to be part of the project and to forge alliances with other professions to discuss the edge that we are standing at here as well as the edge in the city where the ocean meets the concrete.
The other perspective on water that we are looking for will turn things around from business as usual. We want an everyday life where the art contributes to the pressing questions – questions that we didn’t know that we had. We think that the content and aesthetics will contribute to us becoming able to do things in new ways. But what do we mean when we say that we want to turn things around? We mean to change our course, to do something different from what we normally do. The oceans are dying around us while the ocean is rising. We need to turn things around in urban planning. What happens if we look – unlike how we have done in the past – equally on the part of the city that is under and over the water? How do we forge new alliances and raise new questions?
We do not know what the art looks like here in this zone between water and land. We are genuinely curious, and we hope that you will be ambitious. We hope that we will be able to see the future perspective in the projects, perspectives on the unknown. We hope to get new perspectives on aesthetic, social, economic and ecological problems. We have looked at art projects in other domains and art projects all the way back to the 80s, which have inspired us. One of the projects that we have been inspired by and that we thought were future-oriented and exciting is a work by the Scottish Katie Patterson. The Work started in 2014 and will end in 2114. The work is a forest with a thousand trees that have been planted outside Oslo. Every year in that hundred-year period, an author or another literary scholar is invited to create a work that cannot be seen or read for another hundred years, but at a special event every year, you can join an excursion to the forest, where they hold a giving-over of the work, and then a few people say a few words, both the artist who contributes with the work but also the individuals around the project. The work is then taken to the library in Oslo, which, by many, is called ‘The Future Library’, where it will be stored in a special place and in 2114, they will chop down the forest to make paper for all the books that will be published and become available for the public at that point.
What we think is interesting about this work is this idea that we are beginning something, something that is about processes in the natural environment and that we have confidence in the fact that, even though we cannot finish it, others will take over once we are gone, hopefully leaving expressions that can be cherished at that later point.
Another work that we were inspired by was a work by the American-Hungarian artist Agnes Denis. The work was done in 1982. The work was a wheat field that the artist had sown in Manhattan below World Trade Center. The artist was commissioned to make a public sculpture, but she used the opportunity instead to sew a wheat field. The work was an expression of indignation toward how food is distributed in the world, so she sowed the wheat field, and she lived at the site during that time. When the grain was harvested, the grain was distributed to exhibitions around the world to address how we consider the ecology and how we handle the inequalities that exist in the world, along with the different conditions that we are bound to live within different places.
The next work was done in 2012 by Lars Ågaard og Grethe Henningsen. The work is called “The Plants that Disappeared” and is made in Equador in Kito. The work was done because the artists worked with a wide range of social projects in radio and female rights. They also experienced a big landslide, and they discovered that on the slopes where people lived, there had previously been plants that had disappeared as a result of developing the slopes of residential areas. That the plants weren’t there, any longer meant that the landslide happened following heavy rainfall. So what the artists did was identify the specific plants that used to grow on the slopes. And then, they began to give the plants to people for free so that people could plant these around the area. They also provided stories with the plants so people could read about the plants’ history and understand the tradition that people had neglected – and, ultimately, to highlight how the plants might contribute to mitigating the issues that the locals had been experiencing.
The last project that I want to mention is the project ‘Dive-In’ which was made by SuperFlex in 2019. Outside L.A., Superflex created a very large pink installation that was used on occasions for film screenings. The intention was to make it into a drive-in cinema where you could arrive in your car and watch movies, but what was shown was instead the same objects but on a smaller scale, submerged into the Pacific Ocean as building blocks for fish. Formerly, the area had been an ocean, and if you survey the landscape today, you see the remnants from this past beneath the water’s surface. The perspectives were thus turned upside-down and how we might imagine the world be like in the future.
These were a few examples of artists and artworks that we feel have set a new agenda in relation to how to think of art. We don’t know, as mentioned, what this looks like in Vejle, but we hope that you will go to Vejle, that you will walk along the fjord, that you will experience the fjord, and that you will experience it while the sun is shining and when the rain is pouring. Is it new time horizons that we are working with? Is it new meetings? New species? Old species? Who are we planning for when we are planning how everything needs to look like? And who is to do the development? Entrepreneurs? Citizens? We are curious and excited, and we hope that you will be ambitious along with Vejle Kommune and contribute.
Appendix 11D: Meeting Minutes from the deliberation meetings
There was a total of three meetings to deliberate the winning proposals from The Edge/Kanten design competition held by the Municipality of Vejle in 2020. Texts in italics have been translated into English from Danish. The meeting was all conducted in Danish. The judging meetings were held in: Spinderihallerne Fotoatelier 1. sal, Spinderigade 11, in Vejle.
Here are the records of all the meeting agendas and notes taken from the meetings. Some of the more controversial and private comments made by the judges are anonymised.
First assessment of the competition entries – The Edge on the 13th of August 2020
Review of proposals, summing up the main themes
Questions and explanations
Second assessment of the competition entries – The Edge on the 20th of August 2020
Advice from the judicial advisors
Evaluation of the entries
Narrowing of proposals to 5-10 entries
Third assessment of the competition entries – The Edge on the 8th of September 2020
The decision on the finalists
Reserved assessment meeting of the competition entries – The Edge on the 14th of September 2020
Reserved meeting if the deliberation of winners is not finished
Declaration of the winning competition entries – The Edge on the 30th of September 2020
Judge’s report written
Winners will be contacted
Architecture Day in Vejle – Prizegiving on the 5th of October 2020
Winners will be announced for the closing event on The Architecture Day in Vejle
Prizes are given
Appendix 11E: Excerpts from the Judge’s Report (translated into English)
The competition was announced as an open idea competition by Vejle Municipality, with the Architects' Association as the competition advisor. Realdania has partially funded the competition. The language of the competition is Danish.
April 2020 - July 15, 2020
August 10, 2020 - September 16, 2020
Number of proposals submitted and admitted for assessment
Jens Ejner Christensen, Mayor, Vejle Municipality
Niels Ågesen, Municipal director, Vejle Municipality
Michael Sloth, Director of Technology & Environment, Vejle Municipality
Lisbet Wolters, City architect, Vejle Municipality
Klaus Enevoldsen, Head of the Nature & Outdoor Life Department, Vejle Municipality
Gerda Haastrup Jørgensen, Chairman of the Technical Committee, Vejle Municipality
Karl Erik Lund, Chairman of the Nature & Environment Committee, Vejle Municipality
Flemming Hedegaard, Museum director, Vejle Art Museum
Tom Nielsen, Professor, PhD, Aarhus School of Architecture
Advisers to the Judging Committee
Pernille Rom Bruun, Director, Vejle Art Museum
Soo Jung, Ryu, PhD student, Aarhus School of Architecture
Cintia Quintana, Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, University of Southern Denmark
Marie Markman, Artist, researcher and art consultant
Lotta Tiselius, Architect MAA, Vejle Municipality
The proposals have mainly been judged on the strength of the main idea and the conceptual solutions for a nature-based, value-based and recreational storm surge protection above and below water in Vejle, with a special focus on architectural, landscape and artistic innovation and quality, i.e. the competition programme's requirements and wishes.
The judging committee has held a total of four judging meetings in addition to an initial meeting with competition secretary Lotta Tiselius, Lisbet Wolters and Tom Nielsen, who act as professional judges in the competition. At the meeting, all 25 proposals were reviewed.
The first assessment meeting, Lisbet Wolters and Tom Nielsen presented all proposals to the judging committee.
The second assessment meeting, the following proposals were selected to proceed with the assessment: 2, 4, 6, 13, 17, 19, 20, 24
The third assessment meeting, the proposals were re-evaluated, and the judging committee revisited the decisions and discussions from the second assessment meeting.
The fourth assessment meeting (reserve meeting) decided which proposals were to be awarded and for which prize money.
At the last meeting, the judge's report was signed, and the ballot papers were revealed.
In April 2020, Vejle Municipality announced an open idea competition called Kanten (The Edge). The idea competition invited architects, landscape architects and artists to come up with innovative, nature-based and recreational offers for the storm surge protection of the future in Vejle.
With great excitement and anticipation, we have been waiting for the proposals which were submitted on 15 July 2020. We are proud and happy that 25 proposers from both home and abroad have shown interest and submitted proposals for the competition. Not least, considering that the competition was announced just when the Corona crisis hit Denmark, and everyday life looked very different for all of us. Therefore, we would like to thank all the participants in the competition.
The assessment process started in August 2020, when the judging committee reviewed the 25 proposals received. It has been impressive and inspiring to see the wealth of ideas and the height of innovation that the proposals contain. We have benefited greatly from the competition, and the open competition format has definitely contributed to the variety and breadth of the 25 proposals together.
Exciting judging meetings and long discussions have now led to a unanimous judging committee nominating the winning proposal and two more award-winning proposals. In addition, a fourth proposal has been procured. Therefore, with great pleasure, we can reveal the award-winning proposals through this judge's report.
Vejle Municipality is now looking forward, in collaboration with the award-winning proposals, to further process the proposals so that they can contribute to us in Vejle being able to develop innovative, nature-based and recreational storm surge protection in Vejle.
Signed by Mayor Jens Ejner Christensen
Summary of the Judging Committee
The storm surge protection of Vejle will, in the future, require large investments. The edge between the city and the water must be designed so that it can keep the water away from the city when we are hit by storm surge. It may happen once every 100 years or more often - we do not know for sure!
With the idea competition "Kanten", Vejle municipality has wanted to get new ideas for what added value a storm surge protection could create for Vejle city and its inhabitants, so the investments that must be made create something more than just a protection against storm surge events. It has not been the purpose of the competition to receive ready-made proposals that could be immediately realized and built, but instead to raise the level of the common understanding in the city of what storm surge protection can contribute. In other words, to create innovation and move beyond the “business-as-usual” solutions that are often pulled forward but also often have negative consequences for city life and resilience.
The 25 proposals together constitute an inspiring catalogue of ideas for how storm surge protection can "grow with the city" and develop as the risk of flooding increases.
The proposals have a very different character, and there is a great variety in quality and the different ways it could be produced.
Some suggestions are easy to understand, others harder to figure out. Some focus mostly on the landscape, some more on the architectural, while others have a predominantly artistic approach. In the competition, the proponents have had to work with an urban zone (Havnepladsen) and a nature zone (Tirsbæk Strandvej). However, the two concrete places are not an expression of the fact that this is exactly where the ideas are to be realized. This is partly chosen to give the assessment committee a better opportunity to compare the proposals across. Partly to get solutions for storm surge protection suitable for both urban and more natural environments.
None of the proposals can be realized in the form in which they are, but all will be able to be developed and processed into concrete solution proposals. Overall, the proposals provide a good picture of what possible paths the municipality can take to develop storm surge protection with added value.
The six themes of the competition have been unfolded with curiosity and creativity, while the desire to recreate nature and let its changeability and aesthetics contribute to the solutions of the future is reflected in virtually all proposals.
The four award-winning proposals present all innovative ideas for the storm-flood-proof urban development of the future. However, they also express four different approaches to working with storm-flood protection in Vejle.
The winning proposal 20 is an exciting and innovative proposal that contains both a strategic design for the development of the flooded Fjordbyen of the future and a storm surge protection that, like a cell membrane, opens and closes depending on the impact.
Protection and Adaptivity
It is a dike solution that constitutes the storm flood protection itself in the vast majority of proposals in the competition. The basic grip is a terrain elevation and safety on the rear edge both on Havnepladsen and on Tirsbæk Strandvej.
The protection takes the form of ramparts or dikes built up of sand, earth or stone. Some proposals work with more urban grips, where the solution is based on a constructed element that can be repeated, turned and rotated. This can be in the form of module-based solutions such as can be seen in proposal 4 where blue urban spaces are built up of “pixel elements” in concrete that create experiences both above and below water, or in proposal 6 where on a floating rescue ring blocks of, e.g. lime and crushed seashells, which are used to build a dike on land. There are also more artistic grips, such as. proposal 8 where a modular system of hexagons lies like crocheted armour over the landscape and extends into the fjord.
However, several of the projects also point to solutions that have the potential to expand the principle of the dike, and by expanding the 'edge' to a 'zone' with several different nature-based grips, the dike typology expands so much that in reality, there are new landscape forms and a completely new or reinterpreted relationship between city and water.
Some have blown up the framework of the program by submitting proposals that present a great concept. Proposal 5 connects the north side and the south side in a large dam designed as a mirror of the beech forest, while proposal 1 establishes a number of artificial islands that form a dam-like landscape across the fjord with bathing lagoons and recreational beach areas.
The program's requirement for storm surge protection that can be gradually adapted to the increasing risk is solved in most proposals by adding more material and thereby increasing the height of the dike. A few suggestions instead use movable elements in the form of city furniture or benches that need to be manually moved into place in the event of a storm surge warning and thus increase storm surge protection from elevation 2.5 to elevation 3.0. (However, it is doubtful whether this solution will actually be able to create flood protection.)
The adaptive is most beautifully expressed in the proposals that also work with the time aspect. Several of the proposals illustrate how storm surge protection will grow over time and adapt to future challenges. Proposal 19 is the competition's most innovative bid on how storm surge protection can grow and adapt as the risk increases. Here, a landscape of surplus materials is built, reinforced and sprayed with concrete and develops into overgrown ramparts over time. In this way, an interesting, adaptive aesthetic is achieved that lifts storm surge protection to a new level by creating the future landscape of today's materials.
Exploring the potential of nature-based solutions is one of the corner flags of competition. With a fjord in poor environmental health condition, it has been desired to find out whether the investment in storm surge protection could, at the same time, be an investment in a healthier fjord. i.e., Covid-19, the start-up workshop of the competition, was replaced by a series of small videos from the presenters that were sent to the contestants. The proposals are characterised by having been inspired by the videos, and the project about "Healthy Vejle Fjord" has probably led several of the proponents to incorporate ideas about mussel production, oyster bars, proposal 14 and dissemination of project 6 in their proposals.
Many proposals revolve around restoring the original nature and the landscape where the river valley turns into a fjord by establishing salt marshes and vegetation that will filter and purify the water. Extending the protection edge to a protection zone creates an opportunity to let nature's own processes play an important role in storm surge protection and create a "buffer" that can absorb the water level rises before they hit the city. It is especially the idea of creating a wetland along Tirsbæk Strandvej that goes again. Proposal 9 extends this approach to the challenges of coastal cities in general. Here, the meeting with the water is defined by a circular nutrition system where biomass from the fjord, wetlands and land is fed to green areas in the city that form the basis for cultivation. In this way, nature is helped to be able to take care of the challenges itself.
Proposal 13 is the most far-reaching of the nature-based solutions. Here, nature builds, so to speak, its own storm surge protection. Using a degradable geocell membrane creates a resistant and adaptable marsh landscape, forming the future storm surge protection zone. The wide edge gradually makes the landscape wetter and wetter, while on the dry edge, plants and plants grow that the landscape grows wild with, e.g. beach cabbage and reeds over time.
Nature above and below the water
The program wants answers on how the storm surge protection can be designed so that nature along the water's edge and the quay's edge is brought into play. In line with the program, many of the proposals are, therefore, working to replace the safeguard edge of a changing natural area with native flora and fauna, where nature is revitalized both above and below water. Permanent and temporary water holes create changes in the landscape and are crucial for the spread of rich plant and animal life. Many of the proposals made Tirsbæk Strandvej an extended zone with stones, planting and shallow areas where nature or a natural expression gets free play. In proposal 2, the area is separated by a safety line at elevation 3.0, which simultaneously divides the nature park into a freshwater zone and a saltwater zone. The existing cycle path is moved to the nature zone, and small point houses are built, which are used by associations and visitors. Here, knowledge about the landscape and the nature development process is disseminated.
The idea of wooden footbridges floating across the nature area is also repeated in many of the proposals. The bridges make it possible to move barefoot in the nature areas without coming into direct contact with the water but also help to separate nature above and below water.
In the 2nd prize proposal 19, a design WITH water, instead of MOD water, is the main grip that relates to the entire district and creates a direction for urban development. In the 3rd prize proposal 13, the main idea is to create an underwater botanical garden in Vejle fjord and turn nature above and below the water into an experience and learning space. This proposal gives access to the underwater botanical garden via snorkelling routes, periscopes and inverted diving bells, just as it is open to the life that is already on and by the water.
Among the proposals are also examples of nature above and below water being developed to be a single grip for the development of the entire district that is in the risk zone. It can, for instance, be seen in proposal 9, where the city should collect the water rather than make an edge. But also in the winning proposal 20 and the 2nd prize proposal 19.
Another perspective on water
Although the competition is open to architects, landscape architects and artists, the artistic dimension is unfortunately not prominent. Several of the proposals, however, reflect on how urban development can be worked on through an artistic approach, e.g. in proposal 2 where a master plan is to re-establish the city's connection to the fjord through a series of impacts that unite storm surge protection, new development and art installations.
The most independent artistic expressions are seen in proposal 10 where the potential of art is unfolded through two works that turn things upside down and help us to discuss climate change and understand the storm surge threat in a new way. With its distinctive colour and eye-catching expression, this puts the focus on the challenge.
Proposal 2 uses a more quiet and sensual expression by creating a space where the sea's movements can be read directly on the surface. Trees are planted as an extension of the existing planting, and a light installation spreads in the treetops and continues further out into the fjord-like rings in the water.
In the 3rd prize proposal 13, a very strong artistic grip is seen, where water and land are literally woven together in a poetic braid with textiles, ropes and seaweed as weaving threads that weave a distinctive and unique landscape. In this project, the citizens are involved in an elongated artistic project that contributes to understanding the edge's potential and challenges.
The 2nd prize proposal 19 takes the form of a large land-art project, where the artificial landscape that forms the storm surge protection must also add an artistic dimension to the city. The beautiful model photographs show an aesthetically interesting approach to the landscape design where a dynamic between something almost formless and precisely shaped edges and seat plinths creates a great variety. The creation of storm surge protection is thought of as an artistic design process in which nature's processes over time will also play a role. With reference to the Anthropocene, as an understanding of the geological age we live in now, the proponents do not sharply distinguish between the natural and the man-made, but work consciously with mixed forms.
Criteria of the storm surge strategy
Vejle's unique topography is both the city's biggest asset, but at the same time, also the biggest challenge in relation to floods. The steep, wooded slopes and the low-lying Ådal landscape are of great quality when it comes to creating a good city to live in. On the other hand, it makes the city vulnerable to floods and creates problems if the water can not be controlled. By combining urban development and climate protection, new opportunities for financing and value security arise. Therefore, Vejle's storm surge strategy states that storm surge protection must create added value and thus help to give the citizens and the city something more than security. Therefore, it is important that the solutions chosen support the criteria of the storm surge strategy, which is about strengthening Vejle's current identity and making water an asset for social and urban capital.
Just as the residential development "Bølgen" and the commercial domicile "Fjordenhus" today draw the waterfront in Vejle, it is important that future storm surge protection is enshrined in the understanding of Vejle as a city where art and architecture are important parameters.
The four award-winning proposals all build on this understanding and will, in their own way, be able to add another section in the story of Vejle as a place where the interplay between water, art and architecture creates our common identity. They can all be developed to have a high quality and become projects that will attract positive attention and create an even higher city quality for both citizens and tourists.
For many Vejlensers, the fjord's water level and looking towards the horizon out through Vejle fjord is an essential part of the city's identity and their own self-understanding. It must be strengthened through future storm surge protection, and two of the proposals, in particular, have worked on this. The winning proposal 20 chooses to secure up to elevation 2.5 by means of a raised terrain while securing up to elevation 3.0m is done through movable city furniture so that the view of the fjord can be maintained when there is no storm surge. The second prize proposal 19 emphasises this view, both in the design of Havnepladsen but also through the planting of columnar poplars on each side of the harbour course that strengthens the perspective focus towards the fjord.
The resilience strategy
Vejle municipality's resilience strategy describes how threats must be turned into opportunities and make citizens ready for the future we do not yet know. Ownership, commitment and social resilience are the keywords. In Fjordbyen's urban space, water must be thought of as a resource that must provide value regardless of the weather. Storm surge protection must create added value and contribute to the development of the city of Vejle, including ensuring the desire to invest and the property values.
Here, Proposal 9 stands out through its very inclusive perspective, where the idea is that the citizens themselves create storm surge protection over time and where the proposal appears to a greater extent as a collaborative project. In this proposal, the port island is flooded, and natural coasts are created, where people are motivated through cultivation and communities to get involved in and take care of the edge and the construction of the coastal zone.
In the urban zone, boat rentals, community pavilions, creative pavilions, a co-working culture house, a maritime culture house, and a lookout tower will be established. In the nature zone, cabins and public floating docks are established.
With the idea of self-grown storm surge protection, proposal 6 also focuses on the citizens' direct participation and commitment to establishing storm surge protection. Specifically, the work of casting ‘tabby’ blocks takes place on a floating ‘rescue ring’ that is also thought to form the framework for various dissemination activities.
Extra notes (behind-the-scenes) from the judging/deliberation meetings
Lisbet and Tom reviewed the 25 proposals received in a professional and objective manner and then presented an overall thematization of received proposals:
Den grundlæggende beskyttelsesløsning: The basic protection solution
Strandzone + boardwalk: Beach zone + Board walk
De særlige ideer: The special ideas
Det store greb: The big grip (the big concept)
Ejerskab, engagement, social resiliens: Ownership, commitment, social resilience
The meeting started with a review of nine particularly interesting proposals selected by Lisbet Wolters and Tom Nielsen. The nine selected proposals were (#2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 13, 19, 20)
Subsequently, the judge advisers each presented their views on the proposals received, as well as highlighted themes and issues that may be good to take into account in the assessment. The judges' advisers highlighted the following points and suggestions:
Cintia Quintana (a marine biologist from the University of Southern Denmark): The balance in nature below and above the water surface is the most important. At best, plants above and below water can be used as a natural filter. The use of eelgrass is effective, but it requires a lot of light (that they are not planted deep). Mussels inland are difficult but can be used as a "showcase" example. It takes 5-10 years for marine plants to establish themselves. We should try to "boost" biodiversity ". Highlights entries: 13, 19, 20.
Soo Jung Ryu (PhD student at the Aarhus School of Architecture, specializing in "Urban seascaping"): Pointed out our urban tendency to expand our ports and coastal towns into the water, as we have also done in Vejle. It challenges marine life. There is greater CO2 uptake in marine plants (seaweed) than inland plants, so there is good reason to support marine life. Important to remember; to use water as a “design driver” and make the facility visible and accessible to citizens. We must reverse the trend for the environment in Vejle Fjord now and remember to do things in new ways. Highlights entries: 13, 19, 20.
Marie Markman (architect, artist and art consultant): We must consider time, trust, mystery, a common cause, inspiration, and joy. Questions to ask: Does the work/project contribute ecologically, socially and aesthetically to issues surrounding rising seawater? Is this a nature-based solution? Is the idea original? Does the idea have icon value (future icons show new content)? Does it require a special sensitivity to achieve social and ecological resilience (the artist's gaze and method as something permanent and not as a temporary feature). Highlights entries: 6, 10
Pernille Rom Bruun (museum inspector Vejle Art Museum): Highlighted the following entries: 1, 13 and 24.
Lisbet Wolters then proposed a number of the selected proposals for winning prizes or honorarium (2nd-3rd place or special mention/purchase). The judging panel then discussed these proposals.
Proposal 2, 13, 20 - (Excellent)
Proposal 4, 6, 17, 19, 24 - (Very good)
It is important to keep in mind that the competition proposals must be assessed solely on their answer to the task set by the competition program, as well as questions/answers /information sent out during the competition period.