There is a high degree of functionality and technology in major infrastructure projects like the Fehmarn Belt tunnel, which will carry motorists and rail passengers under the Fehmarn Belt between Rødbyhavn in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany from 2021 onward. However, the tunnel should also be much more – it has to add value to the environment and be a great experience for all who travel through it. This is landscape architect, Jørgen Becker-Christensen’s basic idea. Together with Schønherr A/S, he has been the driving force behind the aesthetic design of the Fehmarn Belt tunnel on behalf of the consultant consortium, RAT (Rambøll-Arup-TEC JV), and in close collaboration with the client, Femern A/S. “A bridge is a visible landmark in the landscape.
With a tunnel, we had to think differently, and it’s been very exciting to have an active role in the tunnel project,” says Becker-Christensen.
Jørgen Becker-Christensen has to integrate the huge reinforced concrete project, i.e. the tunnel, portal building, ramps and toll station, into a very flat landscape on Lolland. And he also had the idea of creating a link between landscape and tunnel when he looked at where the Fehmarn Belt tunnel is to go ashore on Fehmarn on the German side. “There is a slight upward slope here, all the way to the point where the tunnel portal will be. The slope is probably only 12 metres high, but it means that you can just get a glimpse of the Fehmarn Belt before you drive down under it.”
On the Danish side, the tunnel portal has to be in the heart of a new land area off Rødbyhavn’s coastline – this will be established by using seabed material dredged from the Fehmarn Belt to make way for the immersed tunnel. A recreation area will be created west of Rødbyhavn that has beaches, lagoons and hiking trails, while east of Rødbyhavn a more natural area will be established with marshes and wetlands.
The experience will already begin, however, at the toll station, which is located approximately 2 km before the tunnel portal. Here, Becker-Christensen‘s office is looking to create an area where motorists will not be needlessly distracted: a simple landscape space will guide motorists quickly through the toll station, where all the lanes are bound together under one large roof. “We will create a green zone, so when driving, you do not see a lot of technology, just lush greenery instead. In addition to the toll station, you will also be able to see into the control centre. This is to demonstrate that it will be a safe experience: you can drive into the tunnel and know that someone is constantly monitoring your journey,” says the landscape architect.
The 18-km journey through the tunnel will be straight all the way except for a curve close to Germany, which is why Jørgen Becker-Christensen and his colleagues have worked on techniques to break the monotony.
“We have worked with the tunnel walls, which will contain architectural lighting. The intention is that the varying light experiences will break up the journey. There will also be sequences of light that can be animated – a flock of birds which follows the motorists – picking up on the fact that the section is known as the “bird flight line”.
New roads and supply lines are now being established. And here, landscape architect Schønherr has been involved in a number of tasks, including drawings of a new pumping station and two new footbridges across the motorway and railway. “We have taken the approach that we need to create an architecture that has a feel of permanency and which will interact with the landscape while being functional and of the locality,” says Jørgen Becker-Christensen.