By Luca Polizzi, photos by Mads Krabbe and Lemvig Kommune
Lemvig is a picture-perfect small town in the western part of Jutland, counting less than 20,000 people. Its picturesque buildings, breath-taking ocean views and mouth-watering oysters make it a wonderful destination in Denmark.
We all know that it is never all peaches and dandelions though, is it? The city suffers from one of the tough consequences of climate change – the rise of sea level. Given that it lies at only about one metre above sea level, the coastal area of the town is subject to constant flooding throughout the autumn and winter months. Around ten days a year, especially during storms, the city embarks water, causing significant distress to its inhabitants.
A project to deal with the issue started in 2010. It was mostly funded by the Lemvig municipality and partly by the foundation of Realdania. We talked to plan and project manager for the renovation of the Lemvig Havn, architect Mariane Vistisen. She has been working on the project involving the harbour for over a year now. The idea was not only to renovate it in a way that could stop the floods, but also to improve its aesthetics and create new areas of entertainment, such as a boardwalk and a swing set, complementing the Climatorium, an educational centre on climate change that will soon be built in the area. The renovation of the waterfront started in 2011 and is now in its final phase.
Other than effectively addressing the flooding problem, the new harbour front certainly adds to the heritage of the city, which includes the Bovbjerg Light House, the Aquarium and the Thyboron Coast Centre. It is now a place for everyone: for adults who enjoy relaxing walks and the nice ocean views, a place where young people have fun hopping on trampolines or playing on swings.
The central part of the harbour, which was the first one to be built, has already stopped “quite a few floods”, explains architect Vistisen. The eastern part has not stopped any yet because it was finished just recently, “but we are excited to see how it is going to cope with future floods”, she continues. The renovations were not only designed to stop the floods though. They are also aimed at improving the aesthetics of the new front with lots of areas thought for the enjoyment of people from all ages. “[the people of Lemvig] are really satisfied and pleased with the renovations and the vast availability of spaces for different activities. Whenever I meet people, they come to me with their arms up in the air and tell me how much they like the new front” said Vistisen.
It is on the eastern end of the harbour front that there are plans to build the Climatorium, project 21 of 24 of the Coast to Coast Climate Challenge, a six-year long initiative launched in Denmark in 2017 to create awareness on climate change. The initiative is led by the Central Denmark Region and supported by 31 main partners with the goal of creating a climate-friendly region. It is also backed by the EU LIFE IP programme, launched by the European Union to help with the implementation of environmental law, mainly through the funding of projects similar to the Coast to Coast Climate Challenge.
The Climatorium, a soon-to-be wave-shaped building designed by 3XN, an architectural firm based in Copenhagen, will educate people on the threats posed by environmental degradation. By 2020, it will be the home of conferences, lectures, exhibitions, seminars and events for visitors to learn about the natural phenomenon. It will also have offices for business companies as well as research institutions and will open its doors to climate tours across the region.
The building will be the cherry on top of the improvements made to Lemvig’s seaside, as well as one of Denmark’s main bases to join the global effort to combat climate change. Even though the fight is getting tougher and tougher, this town seems to be up for the task.