Collaborating firms SEA and Elkiær + Ebbeskov win competition to design community centre in Balling, Denmark
Young design practices SEA and Elkiær + Ebbeskov have been named winners of a competition run by The Danish Foundation for Culture and Sports Facilities to create a new Community Centre of the Future, under the title ‘Pulsen’. This multifunctional centre is to act as a ‘village within a village’, bringing together residents of all ages and cultures from the town of Balling in the north west of Denmark.
But can you build a new community spirit from scratch, or do the ties that bind the residents together need to form organically of their own accord? To encourage this process to occur naturally, SEA and Elkiær + Ebbeskov have established a design which organises the major activity centres in separate volumes connected by a series of covered streets and squares, suggesting that ‘the interconnecting spaces provide places to play, meet, eat and drink’.
Spread throughout the 62m DKK (€8.3m) complex is a range of health and wellness facilities including: a medical centre with doctors, dentists and healthcare specialists; a sports centre offering activities from handball to yoga; a wellness centre with thermal baths, spas and fitness facilities; and a culture house and learning centre capable of hosting various events and workshops.
Partner at SEA and Elkiær + Ebbeskov, Ane Ebbeskov clarifies the reasons behind this miniature ‘village’ masterplan: “Sport and health is something that binds everyone together across generations. Therefore, health is the perfect theme for the new Community Centre in Balling. But health alone does not create a gathering point. That is why we have decided to realise the building as a small ‘town’ with streets and squares, which creates a new and different framework for residents to absorb and enjoy whether they have errands to run in the centre or not.”
Pulsen’s geothermal spas have been directly inspired by the natural wellness centres of Iceland’s blue lagoon, where naturally warmed water erupts from beneath the Earth’s crust. The spa baths in Pulsen’s wellness house and outdoor pool will be flooded with water heated by geothermal methods and will be one of only a handful of Danish plants to offer this 100% natural experience.