Blue Ball Park

Assens is a small Danish market town on the west coast of the island of Funen in central Denmark. The bay providing a natural harbour by the Little Belt, the strait between Funen and the Jutland peninsula, has encouraged trade and transport, while a sugar factory, a brewery and a shipyard have provided further sources of employment, thereby securing a moderate population growth throughout the past century.

In spite of the slight growth, Assens has remained in the shadow of Odense, the capital of Funen, and with the recent closure of the sugar factory, new development opportunities have to be created.

Sports & tourism

Assens’ unique nature and 600 berths strong Marina, together with the quay for visitors and the local camping facilities nearby, could provide a breeding ground for tourism. In the same time, the development of the former sugar factory area, initiated in 2011 with the construction of Arena Assens, a combined sports, fitness- and culture centre, provides further opportunities for the future development of Assens as a sports- and leisure site. Could we unite sports and tourism to create an even stronger development platform?

Public life fulcrum

Tucked in between the town, the old industrial area and the marina nearby, the former sugar factory site could play a major role for the future of Assens as a fulcrum for public life.

By ‘projecting’ lacking activities from the prominent surrounding areas onto the 44ha large site, a unique ‘mix’ emerges, which is highly responsive to the surrounding context. As a gesture of generosity, the site gives something back to everyone: the Townhall gets a plaza, Arena Assens gets outdoor sports facilities, the citizens and visitors get a wide range of amenities for sports, play and informal being together. A multifunctional sports park emerges!

Themed zones

To secure an efficient use, the area is subdivided in three activity zones: 1.balance, strength&coordination, 2.warming-up, endurance&informal and 3.technique, football, tennis&special lanes. The subdivision corresponds to a chronology of movement, starting with the more intimate areas for strength and balance training towards north, followed by an area for creativity and invention, and finally to the last area for 1:1 training and skills development on the largest pitches. The themed zones support both circuit training, as well as independent physical activities.

Maritime identity

The three areas are provided with three different maritime identities, to enhance the quality of bordering on the sea: The Beach, The Harbour and The Sea. Elements, materials and activities are selected for each area to enhance the specific theme. The middle ‘Harbour’ area connects inland and coast, and provides a Grand Entrance to Arena Assens Center.

Sports + History

Superimposed on the three activity areas, a fourth activity route encourages visitors to follow in the footsteps of Assens-born sea-hero Peter Willemoes, and use the Danish naval officer‘s reputed good cheer and courage as a starting point for a ‘sports journey’.

The ‘Peter Willemoes route’ combines sports and culture to create a number of unexpected , challenging and playful sports environments which follow the main chapters of the hero’s life, from ‘The Naval Academy’ of the early days, to the epic ‘sea battles’ of his late years, which brought him celebrity and praise.

The Wave

The former sugar factory site is flanked by the main access road to the town. The area could potentially become the new entrance gate to Assens. However, the heavy traffic is not compatible with stray balls and playing children, and the sports functionality could be further complicated by the strong Western wind. How to solve this paradox?

A wind wall could provide an effective wind barrier to support football and other related activities, while also shielding the area from car traffic. However, a wind wall would also keep all the activities inside.

By twisting the different pitches and activity fields and providing each of them with a fence towards the road, the necessary protection can be achieved, while keeping the activities behind perceivable and independent. Each fence can have a specific density, materiality and height. Sections of the fences are customized to encourage a double functionality: buoys are swings and unpredictable bouncing partners, ropes provide opportunities for climbing, gymnastics and seating with a view.

A differentiation of the activities emerges, and an intriguing roadscape is created. In between the pitches, a number of ‘pocket parks’ add a different layer of informal activities. The resulting ‘Wave’ marks the boundary of the area towards the sea side, turning protection into a social gesture.

The Blue Ball Park

According to climate change previsions, the site is an area at risk of storm surge and torrential rainwater flooding. Why not transform risk into attraction?

By integrating a number of rainwater gardens in between the areas around ‘The Naval Academy’, the central ‘Harbour’ and edges of ‘The Sea’ along the road, water can become excitingly visible in a number of different ways. Water squares, mussel shell channels, trenches and ponds create a dynamic public space, emblematic of Assens as a green&blue town: The Blue Ball Park.

Client: Arena Assens

Program: Retrofit of industrial area, including football, tennis and sports club facilities as well as a wide range of outdoor sports facilities for Arena Assens, along with a Townhall Plaza and rainwater gardens, total gross floor area 45ha

Year: 2014

Location: Assens, Fyn, Denmark

Team: Serban Cornea, Kristina Jordt Adsersen, Henrik Ulsfort, Marcin Kruk, Julia Berenguer, Martina Skalicka

Status: Commission, terminated