The Naerum suburban district of Copenhagen, in Denmark, is home to one of the most visually appealing allotment gardens in the world – the “round gardens”, which are actually oval.
Søren Carl Theodor Marius Sørensen is considered one of the greatest landscape architects to have ever lived, and the oval gardens of Naerum are one of his most famous projects. In 1948, 40 oval allotment gardens, each measuring approximately 25 × 15 m, were laid out on a rolling lawn, between public housing on one side and more traditional allotments on the other. Owners were free to position their cottages, select the surrounding hedges, and lay out the interior of their plots, but Sørensen provided some directions, stressing that they were meant as a guide, not rules. Seven decades later, the oval gardens of Naerum are still one of the most beautiful attractions in the Danish capital.
Initially, Sørensen envisioned the landscaping project as a regular grid of ovals spread across the lawn, but this eventually gave way to a looser arrangement of the plots and a more dynamic look.
Despite the freedom of design that each garden plot owner enjoyed over the years, the oval gardens have always retained a certain consistency in some regards, like the preference of clipped over unclipped hedges, which helped maintain its charm.
One of the most impressive things about Søren Carl Theodor Marius Sørensen’s design is that the oval gardens look amazing from above, and even more so from the ground, as you walk amongst them. That was actually the landscape architect’s plan all along.
The lack of road access to each plot may seem like a flaw at first glance, but it’s by design. The Danish landscape architect wanted to encourage owners to walk more, get some fresh air before getting into their cars, as well as greet and maybe socialize with their neighbors more. Walking among the oval gardens helped them do just that.