Designers in Copenhagen have unveiled plans for a "parkipelago" in the city centre, a network of floating parks that will be free for anyone to use from "boaters to fishermen, kayakers, stargazers and swimmers."

The Danish capital regularly ranks high on the lists of the world's happiest and healthiest cities. And while there are many reasons for this, such as a high standard of living and a great work-life balance, it's fair to say that sustainable urban planning and design play a significant role in it too; whether its the city's extensive network of cycle routes, urban waterways clean enough to bathe in or the fact that 83% of the population live within 300m of a green space.

The harbour bath at Islands Brygge
The harbour bath at Islands Brygge, Copenhagen ©Oliver Foerstner/Shutterstock

And soon there'll be a new way for locals to engage with their city thanks to the Copenhagen Islands project. Designed by Australian architect Marshall Blecher and Danish design studio, Studio Fokstrot, as a not-for-profit project, the islands are essentially a network of small floating parks made from sustainably sourced and recycled materials that will be launched in the city's harbours. 

The first of the islands, known as CPH-Ø1, appeared in 2018 as a 215 sq ft dock. According to a statement from Studio Fokstrot, the park provided a changing green space for visitors, "moving from place to place, hosting part of a photography exhibition, a series of talks and many seaside picnics." It became a popular feature in the harbour that there are plans to launch three more islands this year, and more in 2021.

The islands will be free for the public to use and can be used for different activities such as safe swim zones, saunas, gardens, sail-in cafés and even floating urban farms. In recent years, Copenhagen has seen an increase in the number of kayaks, sailors, swimmers, GoBoaters, tourists and fishermen in the harbour so the islands will cater to a variety of their needs. 

Read more: Best food markets to eat at in Copenhagen

Rendering of Copenhagen's floating islands as seen from above
The islands will travel around Copenhagen's waterways ©Marshall Blecher/Studio Fokstrot

Using traditional wooden boat building techniques, the islands will be constructed by hand in the city's boatbuilding yards and planted with endemic trees and grass species. And in keeping with the sustainability ethos, the islands will be moved seasonally between "under-utilised and newly developed parts of the harbour" so as not to overwhelm certain areas and to breathe life into other spots when needed.

The project, which is supported by the city council, was awarded the Taipei International Design Award for public space and the award for social design. It was also a finalist in the Beazley Design Prize at the London Design Museum and has just been announced as a finalist in the Danish Design Prize.

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