Last week, Denmark’s NATURKRAFT officially opened to offer the public a new space for experiencing the “physical and aesthetic powers of nature.” Designed by Thøgersen & Stouby and SLA, the new landmark at the western coastal town of Ringkøbing is a 50-acre exploratorium showcasing the importance of environmental stewardship. The project, which was funded by private equity and the Municipality of Ringkøbing-Skjern, cost 300 million Danish kroner ($45,329,550) and is expected to attract 280,000 visitors annually.

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aerial view of round park with white ETFE structure and several pathways

Naturkraft — Danish for “Nature Power” — consists of three connected zones that are separately guided by the themes of observation, participation and understanding. The first “observation” zone is marked by a 600-meter-long ring was that rises to a height of 12 meters and provides views of the Ringkøbing Fjord and the flat surrounding landscape. The second zone, which focuses on “participation,” comprises an inner nature and adventure park with playful installations and a 17-kilometer-long “cross section” of the local biotopes throughout the western Jutland of Denmark. Eight specially designed nature typologies are represented, from the sand dune and the heathland to the marsh and the carbon forest.

Related: Climate-adaptive park in Copenhagen wins Arne of the Year Award

kids hopping across a narrow creek
kids climbing an outdoor obstacle course

The theme of “understanding” guided the creation of a 5,500-square-meter building for exhibitions. Located on the highest point of the ring wall, the building features a tent-like translucent facade constructed from lightweight ETFE to emphasize a constant connection to the outdoors. The inner nature arena also includes “dissemination installations” for furthering conversations on the importance of nature for humans.

sand outside white ETFE structure
large hill with a white ETFE structure built into the center surrounded by tall grasses

“Naturkraft is both about the visible nature powers that humans experience and use in nature, and about the deep-seated aesthetic sense of nature that nature phenomena awaken in us,” said Stig L. Andersson, design director and founding partner of SLA. “Nature is what allows us humans to live good and meaningful lives. For both survival and living. In Naturkraft we show how the use of natural processes can shape our future cities and communities. Not by hitherto destroying existing nature, but by learning from nature and living with and not against it.”

+ SLA

Photography by Torben Petersen and Thøgersen&Stouby via SLA