Home to both young families and criminal gang members, Nørrebro is a diverse neighborhood. Its park—Folkets Park—has been contested for decades. As a response, Danish artist Kenneth Balfelt organized a project with architects and landscape architects to improve the park, prioritizing community engagement.
Nørrebro is a densely populated neighborhood with a longstanding mistrust of local officials. When a fire destroyed a building in the neighborhood resulting in an open lot adjacent to a factory, people moved into the the factory and Folkets Park and Folkets Hus were established. Folkets Hus quickly became a community house hosting theater groups, parties, music events, and political debates. The city repeatedly attempted to demolish Folkets Hus, but in the 1990s the building finally receive official approval.
Balfelt worked with all members of the community, asking them, “What their analysis of the park and the situation was, and what they needed from the space.” While most specialists argue that well lit pathways are more safe, Balfelt listened to community members who found dark areas of the park to feel more private and secure. Balfelt argued with the city to include zone lighting to accommodate well lit areas of the park and dark zones in the park. Balfelt enlisted young members of the community to help build and paint the playground equipment for the children. Tensions with gangs in the area have increased over the years, and a shooting occurred in the park last year, pushing officials to temporarily close Folkets Hus. Given the current climate, the park has prospered since the renovation.
Source: Next City