A melting pot of art and Copenhagen life

The new landscape in front of The National Gallery of Denmark is designed as a melting pot – where art can mix with urban life. The urban space was created by Danish Polyform Architects and Dutch landscape architects Karres en Brands and has received a warm welcome from the Copenhageners. At the official opening event the museum set a new visitor record as almost 8,000 people celebrated the city’s new artsy urban space.



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Polyform partner Thomas Kock explains how the urban space is designed to be accessible and welcoming to everyone: “This garden is meant for both the museum and the city – its embracing design obviously makes access to the arts easy, but it also gives the general public a new green urban space to meet up in, the option to sit down by the fountain and maybe enjoy art happenings and events.” Thomas Kock also underlines the fact that the new urban space is the exact opposite of the previous baroque-inspired garden and it’s strict, closed-off design: “Today, soft round islands of grass and winding pathways invite you into a landscape that is open day and night. We wanted to allow lots of space so the art could float out of the museum and into the garden – making it a melting pot for art and city life.” concludes Thomas Kock.

The goal of letting art meet urban life was seemingly achieved at the opening of the garden, as a mixed crowd of thousands enjoyed the last sunny day of Indian Summer. The art crowd mingled at the foot of the museum stairs, hip youngsters drank draft beer on the grass and seniors and parents enjoyed the sight of kids playing with boats and bathing in the water fountain.

The large water basin in the middle of the garden is a natural hangout and gathering point. The fascination and attraction of water draws people in and the wide edge of the basin invites them to sit down. According to Thomas Kock, however, the basin is designed for much more: “Its multifunctional. On a normal day the basin will serve as a water mirror, which pulls the city’s towers into the garden and thereby brings the city and the museum closer together. But emptied out, the basin can also serve as a platform for art installations, concerts, performance art or even as an ice skating rink.” And Thomas Kock continues, “With a diameter of 105 feet, the basin can facilitate a wide variety of creative expression.”

The Danish Minister of Culture Marianne Jelved inaugurated the museum garden at The National Gallery of Denmark in September. The garden is always open for visitors.


Fun facts about the new museum garden:
– The garden’s water fountain is made of 32 specially designed, radiused concrete parts that weigh up to 8 tonnes each.
– The depth of the basin was designed so that kids (and adults) could easily play with model boats.
– A beloved part of the former baroque-inspired garden were the lilac bushes. For this reason 318 lilac bushes will be planted in the new garden. The lighting fixtures of the previous garden were reused in the new garden as well.
– The garden has moveable green chairs, which allows visitors to move them around and sit exactly where they want.


Museum Garden The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Client: The National Gallery of Denmark/ City of Copenhagen/ Annie og Otto Johs. Detlefs Foundation
Landscape architects: Karres en Brands
Architects: POLYFORM
Realisation: 2011 – 2014
Area: 10,000 square meters
Budget: 2,7 million euros
Competition 1. Prize