Shortlisted in the top 50 entries for the 2014 Land Art Generator Initiative Design Competition
Published in “New Energies: Land Art Generator Initiative, Copenhagen”
Design team: Allison Palenske, Christina Gråberg Røsholt, Akshaya Narsimhan, Javier Vidal Aguilera, Zhao Xie, Diandra Saginatari, Yanli Shen
The design for Refkløver is a dynamic combination of biomimicry of the region’s botanical species with Norse mythology. Taken from microscopic studies of the Danish national flower, the rødkløver (red clover, Trifolium pratense), the form of the energy-generating structures mimics the veins found on the leaves and bracts of the plant. These veins act as highways for photosynethetic processes, transporting energy and sugars to the rest of the plant. The design of Refkløver acts in a similar way. Using piezoelectric wires to represent the veins of the plant, wind movement will generate energy through these delicate fibers, and will be transported to the city grid.
Further merging traditions of Norse mythology, the experience of the meandering and interconnecting pathways is derived from the idea of a labyrinth. With no dead ends, the fluidity of the pathways incites a meditation through travel by foot, allowing the mind to wander and be found again at critical viewpoints.
The design emerges as a participatory event, as further energy will be produced by foot traffic via the use of kinetic flooring tiles. Drawing from the urban design characteristics of Copenhagen’s public spaces, Refkløver is a space of symbiosis between people and the landscape. A system of active walkways will connect passive nodes, which are guarded by the sculptural forms, making visitors feel like a very small organism within the epicenter of the red clover. Refkløver will contribute to the idea of free and open public spaces for everyone that enhances the developing community of Refshaleøen. The space provides a harbor-front park for the people of Copenhagen, and the people of Copenhagen help generate energy for the city’s grid by occupying and moving through the site.
Plants were selected based on their flowering season, relevance to local ecosystems, and references in Norse mythology. Freya, the Norse goddess of love, beauty and war, is said to have flowers falling from her hair. Species mentioned in the mythology that are used for Refkløver include milkwort (Polygala vulgaris), cowslip (Primula veris) and sea aster (Aster tripolium). The key plant species in the planting scheme is the red clover (Trifolium pratense), Denmark’s national flower. The red clover is known to have healing properties for soil, agricultural utility, and humans. The importance of the planting design is integral to the concept of the site design, as the form of the energy-generating structures is botanic in nature, and the entire site mimics the natural processes found in the plant kingdom. The variety of species ensures seasonal change and cover throughout the year, providing an aesthetic environment and healthy ecology in all twelve months.
To increase plant biodiversity on site, a botanical theme was chosen and implemented via the form of the energy-generating structures, as well as a detailed planting palette with plants significant to Danish ecology and culture. The semi-transparency of the structures allows sunlight to reach the surrounding planting areas. The plantings absorb CO2, enhancing Denmark’s efforts to achieve a carbon neutral status by 2025.
Planting spaces offer habitat, increasing biodiversity in this unique area. Plants are attractors for pollinators, such as butterflies and bees. Key bird species that will benefit are the smew (Mergellus albellus), white-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla), crane (Grus grus), broad-billed Sandpiper (Limicola falcinellus), Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia), and waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus).
Refkløver brings foot traffic to this developing area, but can also be used as a serene escape onto the waterfront. The design for the site acts as a gateway to Refshaleøen, as visitors disembarking from the water taxi will interact with the site design upon leaving the terminal. The vertical energy-generating structures are a subtle silhouette along the panorama of the harbor, drawing intrigue and curiosity to the developing area of Refshaleøen without being a clichéd symbol of Danish culture.