Aalborg Common Ground

MUTOPIA’s response to the urbanization initiative of the Sohngårdsholm area in Southern Aalborg is a carefully tuned densification proposal of the existing urban belt based on a 4-point strategy to create an OPEN, DIVERSE, DENSE and UNIQUE urban environment.

Combining the development of the urban area and the adjacent park, the project shapes a CityPark as a common ground uniting the better of two worlds: concentrated urban development supported by the upcoming light rail in combination with optimized accessibility to Sohngårdsholmsparken, the most important vantage point of Aalborg city.

The Sohngårdsholm area is part of the Growth Axis, an urban ribbon connecting the airport towards West and the harbour towards East and supported by the light rail as the driving engine for the future development until 2025. Acknowledging the attractiveness of this low-density area with good accessibility to public transportation and park, the brief calls for a densification in combination with a strategy for retrofit of the existing building mass.

Adaptive staged development

The regional development within The Growth Axis, which comprises the creation of a new University Campus Area, provides a unique possibility for uniting all the university related activities at one address. This in turn provides new possibilities for the future development of the area which contains mainly education institutions and facilities, including schools and university related activities, along with student housing.

In order to effectively cope with the transformation of the area, MUTOPIA proposed an adaptive staged development strategy based on a systematic assessment of the existing building mass. While all the university related activities will eventually leave the area, some of the existing schools could be maintained to further contribute to the attractiveness of Sohngårdsholm as an upcoming residential area.


A keep&replace strategy has been devised: keep valuable buildings here, replace outdated building structures there. Could we replace the existing large scale student housing nearby the Sohngårdsholm Castle with a more fragmented structure at higher density to better meet the scale of the historical building structure? An urban village could provide a capillary system of intimate public spaces with improved park connections. Could we keep the existing ‘Ranch’ as an integrated part of the future development to provide new nature experiences, and how to densify the former university plots? An organic patchwork of mixed functions and typologies emerges, carrying within it the DNA of the former area as a means of achieving a diverse and vital urban environment.

The park comes first

Positioned at the point where urban and nature meet, the area could become a new example for how sustainable urban development can be facilitated within the rest of the Growth Axis. Most importantly, the collective quality of the park could be realized as a large scale public space uniting the upcoming development and the surrounding urban areas. Improved East-West connections, along with a differentiated ‘Loop’ infrastructure uniting ‘wild’ and ‘urban’ pathways, represent the first stage of the masterplan, followed by the development of the empty plots towards South and the densification of Sohngårdsholmsvej 55-57, the plot with biggest retrofit potential.

Light rail stops = gateways to park

Gateways to the park in extension of the planned light rail stops create visible connections between city and park, while also improving accessibility to the 62ha large city park. A ‘hard edge’ towards the city and a ‘porous edge’ towards the park define urban and landscape conditions, with the park as the dominant feature.

5 neighborhoods

The urban development resonates with the park: the different urban areas ‘borrow’ the landscape qualities of the adjacent park areas, and 5 different neighbourhoods emerge, each with its own distinct identity. The Castle Houses, nearby Sohngårdsholm Castle, ‘borrow’ the baroque gardens of the castle as a structuring feature of their public spaces, the Forest Houses relate to the nearby wooded area, the Hill Houses relate to the adjacent hilly golf course area, the Lake Houses with the lowest topography of the entire area relate to the nearby lake while integrating surface rainwater retention as a distinctive feature, and the Park Houses - a collection of towers framing views towards the park from Universitetsboulevarden.

Sohngårdsholmsvej 55-57

The Sohngårdsholmsvej 55-57 plot contains a number of robust disused brick buildings, scenically placed within a hilly terrain, and interconnected by covered walkways centred on a beautifully landscaped courtyard. Removing the covered walkways increases the accessibility, while enabling each building to be developed individually as a collection of singularities and according to a specially designed retrofit catalogue.

The FAR of the plot can be potentially more than doubled. How to increase the density, while in the same time preserving the open quality of the area?

A new building structure placed along the perimeter of the plot significantly increases the FAR, while a grand opening towards Sohngårdsholmsvej accommodates the new junction and connection to the nearby Magisterparken residential area.

By organically adapting the perimeter building to the context, a large sinusoidal courtyard building with a number of spacious green pockets providing increased park contact is created.

Subdividing the building structures into a number of different building blocks creates a network of connections between city and park, while allowing architectural variations of the different buildings.

The perimeter buildings are adjusted for optimized views and provided with roof terraces to compensate for the required surface parking areas, while the original building structure is further densified by the addition of two volumes and the increasing of the building heights towards the access road. The emergent cluster of office buildings towards the road and the housing blocks towards the park meet around the former landscaped courtyard, now the gravitational centre of public life for the entire area.

Lamps as giant red poppies which also double as facilities for outdoor activities further contribute to the identity of the area as common ground for new synergies between living and nature.

Client: City of Aalborg, Freja Ejendomme A/S

Program: 88ha masterplan for the development of the Sohngårdsholm area, including development of Sohngårdsholmsparken and retrofit of Sohngårdsholmsvej 55 - 57

Year: 2015

Location: Aalborg, Denmark

Team: Serban Cornea, Kristina Jordt Adsersen, Henrik Ulsfort, Ana Riesco, Andrea Hernandez, Ana Barbosa

Status: Parallel assignment