The Garden Caretaker, Herlev, Denmark

The Garden Caretaker - what happens when we listen to a place before we develop it?

The Garden Caretaker project takes place at the site of the former Herlev Asphalt Factory in Herlev, northwest of Copenhagen. Today the factory is gone, and a new housing project is in the making. While a construction site, The Garden Caretaker will inhabit the area in order to explore the artistic method of Being of Place: Listening to a place from a circular, multi-species, and artistic perspective. Through a one-year inhabitation with various visiting artists that will create workshops, experiments, and exhibitions on site, the project will use art as a method of better understanding a place and its natural inhabitants, before it is developed.

  • Stories and photos
  • The site
  • Future activities

Here you find stories and slide shows from Herlev, The Garden Caretaker. Below this section, you can find the background story for the site.

(01)
VIDEO Presenting the Garden Caretaker - in the New European Bauhaus initiative

Press the icon at the bottom right of the video to enlarge the video.

Listen to the place before you develop it. But how? Perhaps by using art!

In Desire an Irresistible Circular Society our partner in Herlev, Denmark NXT has introduced a new character ‘The Garden Caretaker’ to help reconcile the city with nature.

Watch the video and meet:

- Madeleine Kate McGowan from NXT

- Peter Andreas Sattrup from NCC

- Georg Jagunov

- Arendse Krabbe

The video was created by Benjamin Hesselholdt.

(02)
Story: Connected in the same room between concrete and linden trees

Out of the spring haze, the mistletoe emerges. On a sound walk with the final Garden Caretaker in Herlev, Denmark. See the photos and read the article 

(03)
PODCAST A being of place - Madeleine Kate McGowan

In this very first episode is the woman at the core of the Garden Caretakers in Herlev and utilizer of the being of place idea, Madeleine Kate McGowan of the NXT communication and innovation bureau.

This podcast series is produced by project partner DTU Compute, Denmark - Journalist Søren Bjørn-Hansen. Music by Per Worm.

Listen to the podcast here

(04)
First, it's here - then it's gone... Perishable artwork, as a contrast to man's claim on the land

At a meadow beside a construction site in Herlev, DK, artist Davide Ronco creates a temporary artwork from bricks moulded using local soil, challenging the permanence of human architecture. As the structure crumbles over time, it symbolizes nature's reclamation of land. A fleeting art project that questions our relationship with the Earth.

Go to the article

Artist Davide Ronco is the fourth Garden Caretaker in the greenhouse next to the construction site. Photos: Hanne Kokkegård, DTU

The Garden Caretaker Arendse Krabbe: How do you listen to a place?

Arendse Krabbe is a visual artist and works with site-specific 'listening situations'. In September 2023, she visited the droplet - the greenhouse. As a Garden Caretaker (Havevært, Danish), she investigated how sound connects us to places and to nature and invited people to participate in her practice and exercises. See the photos below. Click on the image to display it larger. -  Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt.

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Arendse Krabbe. Photo credit: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Photo: Benjamin Hesselholdt

Photos from the second Garden Care Taker, Georg Jagunov. Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

The second Garden Caretaker in the Greenhouse was the multi-disciplinary artist Georg Jagunov. From August 7-20th 2023 he has been working with locally found materials such as moss and flint to create a site-specific, living sculpture.

Georg is interested in exploring the area’s geological history and aims to connect our shared history and future: 

“The unique thing about art as a method is that you can get really close to a phenomena and choose the angles from which you observe and interact with it. I primarily work with two materials, flint and moss, that I find in the area. Using performative walks, storytelling and installation art, I seek to recreate our ancient connection to these materials.”

As Garden Caretaker he has been working in the cross field of digital art, installation and landscape design, on a micro and macro scale, while inviting local citizens to join him in his practice.

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

Image credit: Siv Werner www.nxtbrand.dk

(08)
What happens when we listen to a place before we develop it? Our partner NXT tests this new way of thinking, explains Madeleine Kate McGowan. Press the icon at the bottom right of the video to expand the image and see the entire video.

Garden Caretaker - Summer 2023, Photo: NXTBrand.dk

Photo: NXTBrand.dk

Photo: NXTBrand.dk

Photo: NXTBrand.dk

Photo: NXTBrand.dk

The first Garden Caretaker - April 2023, Helene Johanne Christensen - writing workshop

The site

We have prepared a Design Manifesto and five design principles (engagement tools) to steer us and the activities. This site has chosen these design principles. Principle: Biodiversity | Principle: Belonging | Principle: Aesthetics. Learn more here 

(01)
A housing project of 445 apartments is concurrently being constructed on this demonstrator site (18.975 M2), while the Garden Caretaker process unfolds.

From the early phases of this transformation of the site, NXT has implemented the method Being of Place (Stedets Væsen) which asks – what happens when we listen to the place before developing it? Listening from the intersection of circular, multi-species, art, and storytelling.

The Garden Caretaker and the related artistic and sensory activities on site will potentially influence the local environment, opening a sensitivity towards the multi-species community, seeking to reconcile this urban area with Nature.

The physical manifestation on site during the one-year territorial inhabitation is the Caretaker’s House; a pavilion, “The Droplet”, which will serve as a workshop, a laboratory, community and exhibition space, where the local community is invited to participate.

Future activities

(01)
Once untouched by human hand, this then became a grazing area for cattle, with shepherd paths moving through the grass. After that, a social farmer's community which then turned into proud industry with years of asphalt production. Today the asphalt factory is gone, and a housing project is in the making.

While this place will be a construction site the Garden Caretaker (Havevært) will inhabit an area on the site. With the inhabitation, these questions are explored:

What happens when we inhabit the site as artists who facilitate sensory and aesthetic encounters with the landscape and multi-species community? Could such an exploration be a greening of the inner landscapes, potentially manifesting in the outer landscapes?

Herlev Garden Caretaker www nxtbrand dk 09

The droplet was established in March 2023 in Herlev.

Sometimes the weather in March in Denmark changes a lot. From very cold and windy and snow to sunshine.