Scenario for a radically transformed rurality: a station town redeemed through subtraction and afforestation

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Globally, developed countries are experiencing severe demographic challenges as their rural population abandon the home villages and move into the cities. As part of this tendency, the rural villages in Denmark face abandonment and decay. Therefore, the Danish government has initiated widespread strategic demolition projects. Nevertheless, these projects form a fast eradication of local identity, as the abandoned buildings still play a crucial role as anchorage points of local identities. However, another highly prioritized item on the Danish government’s political agenda is sustainability and hence, recently, an ambitious nationwide afforestation plan was launched.

This paper reports on an on-going research by design project implemented at full-scale in Bedsted; a depopulating rural station town. The project is embedded in the local community and combines the afforestation plan with strategic demolitions. The aim is to investigate new and sustainable directions in radical preservation based on afforestation and partial demolition of the rural built environment.

The afforestation takes place by expanding the existing forest south of Bedsted into the depopulating town. The forest is emerging into the emptied lots of abandoned buildings gradually, whereas the abandoned buildings themselves are reduced to controlled ruins through a subtractive architectural practice embedded in the machinery of the strategic demolitions. Remaining fruit trees and hedges originating from the abandoned gardens play an important role as they, while they dissolve, interweave the curated ruins, they originate from, with the forest.
The ruins maintain clearings in the forest and constitute culture-historical meeting points that catalyst exchange of memories among the local residents and hence, preserve the buildings immaterially as collective memory while their physical presence slowly but surely decreases. The project builds on experiences from a decade of fulfilled subtractive interventions in collaboration with local authorities and is now growing to engage the entirety of a rural station town.
Publikationsdato17 sep. 2021
StatusUdgivet - 17 sep. 2021
BegivenhedRadical Architecture Practice for Sustainability 2021: Radicality - University of the West England (UWE) , Bristol, Storbritannien
Varighed: 17 sep. 202118 sep. 2021


KonferenceRadical Architecture Practice for Sustainability 2021
LokationUniversity of the West England (UWE)


  • transformation
  • radical preservation
  • afforestation
  • stationsbyer

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Ja