The Opera Park in Copenhagen is an urban green island where ‘nature comes first’

The Opera Park creates a new urban green lung near Copenhagen's fast-developing Paper Island district, courtesy of Danish architecture studio Cobe

close up aerial shot of The Opera Park
(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

Copenhagen is welcoming The Opera Park, a new, green lung for the Danish capital, which has been bustling with construction activity. The architectural garden has been designed by Danish studio Cobe, and is set on an island between The Royal Danish Opera and Paper Island, a soon-to-be-completed former industrial area transformed into housing by the same architects. 

The Opera Park from the air with water as backdrop

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

The Opera Park: a rich, green, urban environment for all

The Opera Park is a green park island, featuring six gardens and a greenhouse: the North American Forest, the Danish Oak Forest, the Nordic Forest, the Oriental Garden, the English Garden, and the Subtropical Garden (the last, housed within the greenhouse at its heart). The scheme was commissioned via a competition supported by The AP Moller Foundation, and was conceived to act as a counterpoint for the densely built inner harbour of Copenhagen. 

The Opera Park from the air

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

Dan Stubbergaard, founder of Cobe and professor at Harvard, explains: 'The Opera Park is a place where nature comes first amidst Copenhagen’s bustling urban development. With its six gardens, winding paths and carefully crafted viewpoints, the project seizes elements of Copenhagen’s historical, romantic gardens to tackle today’s challenges, such as the decline in biodiversity and water management.'

The Opera Park pavilion

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

'Designed for recreation, relaxation and contemplation, the park provides the city with a much-needed green oasis. As you stroll through the park, you get the feeling of having left the city and being immersed in nature, almost forgetting you are in the middle of the dense city centre.'

view of greenhouse interior at The Opera Park

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

The architecture team pulled out all the stops to craft a richly planted public landscape that could be enjoyed by all, year-round. It encompasses 628 trees, 80,000 herbaceous perennials and bushes, and 40,000 bulb plants, from all around the world. 

inside pavilion at The Opera Park

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

Stubbergaard adds: 'The Opera Park sets the stage for experiencing nature in the heart of Copenhagen. Like an opera stage, the park is a composed landscape with a foreground, a middle ground and a background.'

view of The Opera Park

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado)

'The 80,000 plants and 600-plus trees are placed to naturally create a scenic setting facing the harbor. The terrain and trees are tallest where they create the background, and lowest in the foreground towards the harbour.'

the green house at The Opera Park

(Image credit: Francisco Tirado) 

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).