Young Minds Shape Tomorrow’s Green Spaces: A Collaborative Project at Ole Rømer's School

Ideas abound at Ole Rømer’s School where 40 students presented their ideas for an irresistible local community of the future.

Author: Søren Bjørn-Hansen, DTU | Desire published on April 10, 2024

Following a path of printed out arrows on the floor leads you to the library at Ole Rømer’s School in Gadehavegaard, Denmark. Here students are taking the reins in redesigning their local environment and today they are presenting their ideas.

Gadehavegaard, a residential area in Denmark, is undergoing a significant transformation from a conventional housing district to a modern urban neighbourhood.

This transformation is one of the light house demonstrators of the EU project Desire. This specific demonstrator aims to revitalise Gadehavegaard by focusing on the redevelopment of a parking lot and road into a park while emphasizing biodiversity and circularity. But importantly the project seeks to actively engage future residents and citizens in the planning process.


Students are stoked

A pivotal aspect of the project has therefore been the participation of students from a local school, where 40 students from the 8th grade level, have spent weeks brainstorming and designing their local community with the aid of GXN, an innovation and consulting company affiliated with 3XN Architects.

One of the students is Benyamin Safi, who is grateful to be involved in the creation of the future of his community.

“I am stoked they selected our school for this project so we can help change the place we live and have created memories in. I have learned a lot these past weeks. And it has actually been a bit comforting getting a glimpse of what the future holds for our community,” he says.

From the lavish ‘Dream Pool’ and big sports arenas to tiny cosy tree houses for much needed alone time, the ideas presented were of all sorts of different kinds - but all envisioned a future for the community where green is good - and community and individuality is both possible.

New way of involvement

At the forefront of this redevelopment is Lisbeth Engelbrecht, project manager for Gadehavegaard at Domea.dk, an administration company specialising in urban development.

She is delighted with how the students have taken to the task:

“It has been an absolute pleasure and an exciting new way of involving the community,” she says.

Having received the ideas, it is her task to conjure them into reality - some of it at least.

“We have spoken with the students about the fact that their ideas probably won’t become reality as is, but they represent important input into the design principals used in the coming planning of the park,” she says and underlines their desire to keep the students in the loop in the ongoing process.

“We want to bring them into the room with the architects so they can follow the process of sketching out these areas.”

They are so smart

Next the ideas will be included in the coming tender program, which will be developed along with AGORA - the company tasked with helping the students realise their ideas.

Thøger Riis Michelsen led the process along with Sara Nardi. He is astonished by the students' intellect and empathy. Initially apprehensive about the outcome, they were pleasantly surprised by the depth of understanding exhibited by the young minds.

“They are so smart. They were able to include perspectives outside their own. Of their elders but also of smaller children. And with just a small amount of guidance, they really showed they were more than competent enough to help tell the story of their future community,” he says.

“To me, this shows that the inclusion of especially young people should be taken much more seriously than it is today. Architects who arrive at an area can never get the full understanding of a place. And they can be blinded by academics. But the people who live in an area they just need a little help, and then they can draw their own future.”

Exhibition at Ole Rømer’s School in Gadehavegaard. On 5 March 2024 students from Ole Rømer’s School in Gadehavegaard, Denmark were presenting their ideas for transforming a car park into a green area. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen. Credit for portraits of Thøger, Sara and Lisbeth goes to Benjamin Hesselholdt.

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Benyamin Safi. Student at Ole Rømer School in Gadehavegaard, Denmark on March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Gadehavegaard, March 5, 2024. Photo: Søren Bjørn-Hansen

Thøger Riis Michelsen, AGORA, Gadehavegaard, credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Thøger Riis Michelsen, AGORA, Gadehavegaard, credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Sara Nardi, AGORA, Gadehavegaard 29 credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Sara Nardi, AGORA, Gadehavegaard 29 credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Lisbeth Engelbrecht, project manager for Gadehavegaard at Domea.dk, credit Benjamin Hesselholdt

Lisbeth Engelbrecht, project manager for Gadehavegaard at Domea.dk, credit Benjamin Hesselholdt